Sweden is 1574 km (978 miles) long, and it is only in the southernmost and central sections of the country that there are thatched roofs and thatchers.There are about 30 firms in all, mostly small, and about 25 of them are spread around the very south of the country that previously belonged to Denmark. The Swedish thatchers have their own interesting homepage www.stratak.info/ but they do not have any registerede training scheme yet.
Swedish thatchers use both straw and water reed to thatch with. Straw is used as a thatching material because Swedes have found that it withstands the great amounts of snow very well in the mid-Sweden area, where many thatches are to be found. Even so, other thatchers will estimate that over 90% of thatches today are made using reed.
Historically, thatching used to be a part-time employment for local farmers. They would have a young helper provided at the place of work, and they were also able to provide the long straw needed for the roof. Very few men actually worked as full-time thatchers. Nowadays, thatchers arrive on site with a full work force and all necessary materials for the job.
Anecdotes from the 18th century mention that on the Uppsala plain north of Stockholm, there were as many as 95% of the farm buildings that were thatched, probably mostly with straw. So in this mid Sweden area, roofs are still thatched with straw, and one could say the thatching here is somewhat antiquated.
The rise in demand for thatch in Sweden came about when the Berlin wall came down in the late 80’s, and cheaper thatching reed became available. This led to a thatching boom in the south, with considerable influence from Dutch and Danish thatchers – so also new constructions began to be seen using reed. The influence of foreign thatchers has brought improvements to Sweden, and modern methods of roof attachment with stainless steel thatchers’ screws, better scaffolding and fireproofing are now the norm.
These days, the whole branch is under considerable pressure, with foreign (especially Eastern European) firms taking the largest jobs. However, it does look as though the relatively few and small Swedish firms are managing, mostly because they are also able to provide solutions for other crafted projects as well as the thatch.