How Green are Thatched Cottages?

Once upon a time, thatched cottages were all the rage. They died out in urban areas for a long time, but they’re making a return. Here’s why.

thatched cottages

The main thing stopping people from buying thatched cottages is the increased fire risk that a straw and reed thatched roof entail. From fireworks to lightning to an open fireplace, there are several reasons why they can go up in flames. This is why they died out for many years and Welsh slate became the roof material of choice.

But what about the huge amount of eco-friendly benefits that they bring? Read on to find out the five most notable advantages of thatched cottages. There are roughly 50,000 thatched buildings in England today, some of which are over 600 years old. They must be doing something right!

1. Thatched cottages provide great weatherproofing

If a thatched roof is a very deep, traditional one, severe rain will simply glide off it without a need for guttering. The straw, wheat reed and water reed materials used for thatched roofs nowadays are non-porous and are thatched so densely that water shouldn’t find a way indoors.

2. They have a very low U value

Thatched cottages provide a thick, almost impenetrable layer of insulation to a building. They’ll help to keep your house warm in the winter without having to use your central heating system too much. Long straw thatches tend to fare better than reed because the latter allows for greater heat loss and the escaping of air. A 300mm layer of water reed thatch has a U value of 0.29 W/m²K and the same thickness of long straw has an incredibly low U value of 0.23 W/m²K. Your carbon footprint will be very small indeed and it’ll be very unlikely that you’ll need extra insulation.

3. They are made from a sustainable material

The materials used in the roofs of thatched cottages grow naturally and are even grown in farms now, specifically for thatched roofs. The supply of them will never run out as long as growers keep growing. As it’s a material that grows in nature, it’s extremely eco-friendly and green. It doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals or processed at all, and once it reaches the end of its life it can be composted.

4. They block out lots of sound

While a high U value is no guarantee of soundproofing ability, it is the case with a thatched roof. Its thick and dense structure is a great barrier against sound as well as heat loss and severe weather.

5. They give a timeless appearance

While not a green benefit, it’s a large contributing factor into why people invest in thatched cottages. They can be made to look traditional, modern or a mix of the two. They can be shaped and styled however you like and with whatever other materials and designs you want. They are therefore a very flexible choice which will never look outdated.

Image: Lisa

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