The main thatching materials used in the UK today can be split in to two categories.

• Cereal Straw
• Water Reeds

Cereal Straw can be processed in ways to give us thatching materials with different characteristics

Long Straw

Combed Cereal Straw or Reed

Long Straw is so called, not because of the length it grows but the way the finished roof looks. The straw has been threshed to only remove the grain. This leaves a straw which is tangled and broken and needs further preparation before it can be used for thatching. The roof has a slightly shaggy finish and commonly has a stick work around the eaves and gables which are then cut to form a neat edge.

Combed cereal straw or Reed takes its name from the processed material itself. The straw has been threshed to remove the grain but with an attachment to the threshing machine which removes the weeds, leaf and broken stems. The processed straw is a straight length which resembles a reed. The roof takes on a smoother carpet like finish with the eaves and gables often cut to form neat rounded edges.

Water Reed – Phragmites Australis, is a grass which grows in wetland areas to lengths dependent on the nutrients available. The reed is cut during winter months before the new shoots appear. They are stacked loosely to dry before being cleaned and bundled and sorted into differing lengths ready to be used by the thatcher. A Reed roof can be styled to look like a combed straw roof but generally forms sharper edges to eave, gable and hips.