Winter wonders and Winter answers; Thatching in the cold


Many customers ask how thatchers can work in the extreme cold and the snow.

When it comes to thatching in the cold I find, as with any outdoor work, it is essential to dress for the weather – lots of layers with the outside one being waterproof, lots of pairs of gloves that can be changed during the working day when they get wet and a hat.

Many thatchers will sheet over their work at the end of the day, so that any overnight snow or frost can be kept off the working area.  Unlike a lot of tradespeople (for example brick layers or plasterers), we are fortunate that we can work in the rain and snow – although some thatchers reading this might use the word ‘unfortunately’.

Often it is not the cold or snow on the roof that will stop the thatcher working, but his inability to get down the minor roads to work, which will not have been cleared of snow.  I find that when it’s cold, you can keep the cold at bay, but when it’s 30 degrees plus there is absolutely nothing you can do to keep cool.  Which is worse? – Any extremes are bad!

An enquiry was received from a visitor to the website who wanted to know if with the recent heavy snowfalls, the weight of the snow could compress and water log the thatch.

This is unlikely unless the thatch is very old and worn.  As with a tiled or slate roof, the snow will not penetrate into the thatch and melting snow will result in the water running off the surface and dripping off the outside edge of the eave line, which can create some spectacular icicles.  If the thatch is very old then often the water will penetrate further into the thatch and valley areas especially should be renewed, if the rest of the roof is in relatively good condition.