5 Helpful tips for oast cowl maintenance

Here at Dude & Arnette we know looking after oast cowls is a serious crafty business. And if you don’t do much to maintain them… well, a costly one. Our expert team uses traditional building and maintaining methods (perfected over 4 generations) to weatherproof and protect your roof and ensure your roof is tip top!

To help you get an idea of what’s required to maintain your oast cowl we’ve put together 5 recommendations:

1. Get them serviced every year

It might seem obvious, but we’d suggest having your oast cowl serviced every year. This is to avoid it from collapsing due to damage caused by weather conditions. Lucky for you, with Dude & Arnette you’ll be in safe hands. Our specialist team can strip and re-tile all types of kiln roofs, including brick and wooden, round or square roofs, making sure your roof is weatherproof. We can also replace ironwork and lead work for kiln tops, and craft bespoke kiln guttering. Phew!

2. Have them down every 5 years to avoid as many repairs

Repairs can be costly, so avoid leaving it too late by having the cowls down for a check-up every five years. This will help you get an idea of the state of the cowl and avoid potentially costly problems that can develop with the wood- and iron-work due to weather conditions. Prevention is key, folks.

3. Always get the oast cowls down to refurbish

After we’ve assessed your oast cowl we bring them down using scaffolding or a crane, which is usually a fast and hassle-free process. We also cap the building securely to protect against the weather and any would-be nesting wildlife. Once the cowl is down, we sand it, remove all moisture from the wood before any paint work or repairs take place. If you want more detailed information of our step by step process, read how our cowl repairs work.

Old cowl coming off

4. Check the top of the oast roofs when the oast cowls are off

It is as important to check the cowls as it is to check the top of the oast roofs. In some cases, where the cowls have been severely damaged, it may be more cost-effective to build a new traditional wooden cowl rather than carry out all of the repairs needed. If we feel that this is best, we will always advise clients in advance and discuss the options.

5. Banging or squeaking? Get your oast cowl serviced ASAP

If you hear any banging or squeaking coming from your roof we recommend you contact us as soon as you can to prevent any damage or water coming in.

If you are interested in our oast cowl maintenance services please get in touch today for a no obligation visit and we’ll organise a time to meet with you and assess your roof.

Curious about what we do? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and watch us in action.

Filming an oast cowl construction with Channel 4

The guys from Channel 4 love a good oast cowl construction. Back in 2017 they featured us in their Village of the Year programme showcasing the history of oast cowls and Kent peg tiles. This time, they approached us to film the construction of an oast house a from start to finish. This is part of a programme that will showcase the build of different traditional buildings, each one being different and unique (a church, a windmill). With faces most definitely made for television, who were we to deny the public this experience?

They were particularly interested in watching us build the two oast house roundels (the roof) and the two oast cowls. As highly trained craftsmen and a fourth-generation family business, we know this process very well. We restore and rebuild oast houses and oast cowls from scratch and over the years, we have worked on all types of oast houses across the country, including buildings listed with local heritage departments.

Building an oast owl from scratch

We started the construction by pitching the two oast roofs known as roundels. We then used Tyvek (flash spun high-density polyethene fibres) to weather each kiln. After that, we used counter batten up each rafter, so that when we lathed the kiln it could hold the tile nails away from the Tyvek preventing holes. We then made onto the counter baton to work out where every row of tiles had to go so that they were evenly spread up the kiln and weathering one another.

oast cowl construction  Oast cowl structure being put together  oast construction filming

Going onto the makes we added the lath, which is wood that’s run out really thin and therefore gives us an opportunity to bend it and pin it around the roof. The lath also serves as a base for the tiles. We used tapered and square tiles as due to their shape they’re able to go around the roof without running downhill. Once the tiles were on with lead and fibreglass, the top was ready for the oast cowl.

Preparing tiles for oast construction  oast construction tiles . oast cowls built in the warehouse

The last step of the process is to add the oast cowl on top, which we are in the process of putting on so watch this space for the final snaps!

Whether you’re interested in oast construction, installation or kiln roof maintenance, get in touch with our specialist oast cowl build team for a clear, honest and concise quote and we will organise a visit to your oast house at a time that suits you.

Want to see how we finish this project? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for the latest oast updates.

Oast cowl repairs by hand

We’ve always worked with our hands here at Dude & Arnette, some of us used to be mechanics, some started working on oasts early raising cowls up by hand using pulleys and poles. We like getting stuck in, but there are lots of other reason why investing in a true craftsman for your oast cowl repairs is important.

How often should I have my oast refurbished?

Looking after your oast is important, it can preserve the life of your oast and save replacement.  Oasts ideally should be refurbished every five to six years so any rotten or broken wood can be repaired before causing a larger problem.  If we carried out the original repair work, it may be a little longer. From start to finish, a standard cowl refurbishment typically takes around four weeks.

oast cowl repairs    finishing oast cowl repairs a before shot of oast cowl repairs

Why should I have my oast cowl repairs done by hand?

Oast refurbishment is a detailed process. We carefully strip down the oast by sanding it – removing all the paint from the boards. This allows us to see any wear or water damage. The cowl then gets placed in a special drying room to remove any moisture from the wood before we begin repair work. Depending on the cowl’s condition, this may include meticulously replacing or repairing boards, heads, mainframe or curb, our expert craftsmen know exactly how to repair any problems with minimal disruption to the structure of the original cowl.

A critical stage is the re-painting, we still paint the cowls by hand, the shape of the cowl means it’s almost impossible to get good, solid coverage by spraying. And we do five coats for optimum appearance and weatherproofing. Something we are committed to always doing by hand.

What have you changed?

We keep up to date with the very latest technology and quality when it comes to paint and wood treatment.  Using cutting edge primer, undercoats and finishes leaves you fully weatherproofed and prevents any potentially costly problems developing with the wood- and iron-work.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see what we’re up to in the new year, or get in touch to chat about your oast refurbishment needs.

Oast House Restoration

It’s that time of year when those of us lucky enough to live in a period property are warming our feet by a large open fire. But period properties are hard work. Fact. They require tender, loving care, and a fair measure of expertise. It takes bravery and commitment to take on an oast house restoration and we’re always inspired by the clients we work with.

This month we spoke to Ecclesiastical and World Heritage Magazine about Richard and Jane Horobin’s project, two great examples of the bravery we admire. They transformed the Grade II listed Lydens Farmhouse, near Hever in Kent into a family home. And what a spot to work – with views over the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Committed to Kent’s history

What we liked about the Horobin’s was their commitment to preserving the historical features of the property. Which, luckily for us meant working with only the finest oast house experts in Kent! They meticulously used local joiners, bricklayers and other tradesmen when they could. For example, they used locally sourced oak to replace the original rotten timbers. And Tudor Roof Tiles (traditional clay Kent Peg tiles) that give an authentic, natural finish than modern tiles.

The historical building had no record or clues of how it used to look. That’s where our generations of experience came in. From the diameter of the roundel base, we knew exactly the height and style of oast cowl to build to be true to Kent’s history.

A year of oast house restoration

As the year draws to a close we’re so proud of our team and the oast house projects we’ve worked on across Kent, Herefordshire and Sussex. Thank you from us all for being amazing customers and we’re excited to working with you all in 2019.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see what we’re up to in the new year, or get in touch to chat about your oast restoration needs.