South West Thatching is a small but very professional thatching company based in Cornwall. We are fully trained and have a mass of experience between us in all aspects of thatching, timber work, working with cob and any other general maintenance your roof may need.
Combed wheat reed (wheat reed or wheat straw) is the most commonly used Thatching material in Cornwall. Harvested by cutting the reed with a binder and leaving in small tied up bunches called sheaves, the sheaves are then left to dry naturally by stooking them in the field (a method of standing the sheaves upright together).
The wheat will then be stored until it is put through a threshing machine to remove the grains and tied into bundles ready for use on the roof.
Combed wheat will have a life span of around 15-20 years, all dependant on the pitch of the roof and how sheltered the roof is from the elements. Combed wheat reed is applied to the roof using a very traditional Cornish method which has had minimal changes from the day it began. When dealing with wheat you almost always leave a layer of thatch on the roof which will be used as a bed for fixing in to.
Working throughout cornwall we come across cob buildings 90% of the time. Because of this we have become highly skilled in working with and replacing this age old material.
The traditional method of fixing the eaves to the cob would have been to drive wooden stakes down into the top of the cob wall.
We use a much more efficient method which will not damage your cob wall and will last hundreds of years. We first level the cob and add a lime, cement mortar.
We then place a wooden wall plate on top of the mortar which we fix down using boat nails driven though the timber and into the cob. They cause minimal damage and will hold tight once the lime mortar has set.
The roof is then ready to be thatched over and over for years to come, whilst protecting the cob beneath. Please click on the photos below to see larger versions and more detail.
Water reed also known as Norfolk reed or continental reed is widely used across Cornwall and the uk. It is grown in marshes and lakes.
In the past the reed was harvested using sickles or scythes, a method that can still be found today. A skilled reed cutter can harvest and tie between 15 and 20 bundles per hour.
Water reed is applied in a very similar way to wheat reed,one change being that nearly all roofs being thatched in water reed will need to be completely striped back to timbers, this is because water reed is fixed to the timbers using screw fixings.
When the water reed is added to the roof we use a drill with an extended drill bit to screw down into the timbers, the screw has two wires attached which then wrap around a steel bar on the surface of the reed and pulls the bar down tight. The reed is then dressed into shape.