The Whats, Whys, and Hows of Skylights

Additions and Remodels
Roofing
Small Projects and Repairs
By Contractors.com Team June 11, 2021

Lighting plays a huge role in the interior of any home. There are many different electronic lighting methods, but all-natural skylights are among the most practical and effective. 

Skylights are passive lighting sources that utilize sunlight to brighten entire rooms. They are different from typical windows as they are horizontal roof windows that let in even more sunlight than their vertical counterparts. From providing gentle sunlight in the mornings, to moody accent colors during sunsets, skylights are a great addition to any interior that can accommodate them.

What Are Skylights

Why Skylights Are Beloved Features of Any Home

Why Skylights Are Beloved Features of Any Home

Skylights are windows that are either fixed or operable and are installed horizontally or semi-horizontally on roofs. They allow for natural sunlight to make its way into the center of a room, lighting them up just beautifully. 

There are all kinds of commercial skylight brands to choose from. Among the most popular are Velux modular skylights which can be purchased all across the country. While you can find skylight windows of different styles and designs, they are mostly divided into four types. 

Main Skylight Styles

Fixed Skylights

Fixed Skylights May Sound Limiting, But You Can Achieve Just as Much In Design as with Any Other Skylight

Fixed Skylights May Sound Limiting, But You Can Achieve Just as Much In Design as with Any Other Skylight

Fixed skylights are installed as permanent fixtures in your roof that cannot be opened or closed. They are made up of glass panes and steel frames. You can have some flexibility with them by installing blinds for skylights that will allow you to let in or keep out sunlight as you wish. 

Vented Skylights

Vented Skylights Are a Simple Home Addition You'll Thank Yourself Later for, Always

Vented Skylights Are a Simple Home Addition You'll Thank Yourself Later for, Always

Self-Ventilating skylights are similar to fixed skylights in appearance but come with the feature of cracking them open by manually pushing the window up or using a remote to open them automatically if they are too high up. Vented skylights give you all the light you need, with the bonus of fresh air.

Tilted Skylights

How a Tilt Skylight Works and Everything Else You Need to Know to Choose One

How a Tilt Skylight Works and Everything Else You Need to Know to Choose One

Tilt skylights are a variation of the traditional vented skylights with a different opening mechanism. While the ventilating skylights open vertically, tilt skylights open horizontally, more closely resembling a standard window that opens to the side. There is no objective advantage or disadvantage to either of these skylights, as it comes down to personal preference.

Tubular Skylights

With a Handful of Skylight Types to Choose From Your Sure to Find One that Fits for Your Home

With a Handful of Skylight Types to Choose From Your Sure to Find One that Fits for Your Home

Then there are tubular skylights, also known as solar tubes or sun tunnels,  which are completely different in shape and size but can be even more practical than conventional skylights in certain ways. The shape of the standard rectangular skylight may be too large for many homeowners’ roofs. Sky tunnel skylights are compact, making them great skylights for rooms with less ceiling area. This is due to their dome-shaped lens which sits on top of a tube that resembles a chimney. This lens captures sunlight from the outside, transfers it through the highly reflective tube, and disperses it throughout the spaces with the help of its diffuser.

Why You Should Install a Skylight (Or Two)

Solar skylights come with a set of benefits that make them a worthy addition to your home. If you can spare the space on your roof and ceiling, you can reap the benefits all year long, for years to come.

Attractive Design 

Top Reasons Why You Should Get a Skylight Installed

Top Reasons Why You Should Get a Skylight Installed

From an interior design perspective, skylights are the perfect opportunity to bring extra stylizations to a home. Not only do skylights allow for our eyes to travel irrelevant of the style of design in a particular space, but it also accentuates or creates the architecture of a home. Besides contributing to a stylish interior, of course, there’s plenty of light it disperses that helps create a warm and organic aura.

Energy Efficiency

Skylights Can Help Reduce Your Energy Bills

Skylights Can Help Reduce Your Energy Bills

Skylights can make for a valuable replacement for traditional lighting fixtures. They are a great way to lower your home’s energy consumption, as they provide just as much light as electric lighting  — if not more — without using up any electricity. While skylights are not very functional when the sun goes down they can still significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home. This also has the benefit of a lower power bill, especially during the winters when heating and lighting can seriously tank up your home’s electricity consumption.

Natural Lighting

The Main Perk of Having a Skylight Is Ample Natural Lighting

The Main Perk of Having a Skylight Is Ample Natural Lighting

Lighting has different effects on us based on its brightness, color, and placement. However, natural lighting has been observed to significantly lower stress and help us relax. There are a variety of reasons for this. The most notable is the fact that, for hundreds of thousands of years, humanity has been programmed to subconsciously gauge the time of day based on natural light. Plus, unlike the piercing glow of some light bulbs, natural lighting in the house can create a more serene atmosphere and help you relax.

Growing Indoor Plants

More than One Green Reason to Have a Sylight

More than One Green Reason to Have a Sylight

For the gardeners among us, skylights are very useful when it comes to growing your indoor jungle. While some plants can get enough sunlight from standard windows or even artificial lighting, if you wish to create a more luscious biophilic interior design, skylights are a major bonus. With a few skylights, you can start your own garden without even leaving your home and freshen up your house with beautiful plant life. 

Plenty of Vitamin D

Home Addition Projects that Improve Your Lifestyle

Home Addition Projects that Improve Your Lifestyle

The sun is not simply a source of light. It also provides us with plenty of nutrients, most notable of which is vitamin D. An important building block for healthy skin and bones, vitamin D is also essential for building up the immune system and the strength of your body. If you have a work-from-home setup and rarely have the opportunity to go outside, skylights can help mitigate that imbalance and provide you with the vitamin D you need to stay healthy.

Skylight Installation: What to Expect

Skylights Look Good Anywhere In Your House because Every Space Loves Natural Lighting

Skylights Look Good Anywhere In Your House because Every Space Loves Natural Lighting

Planning and Permits

As with most other renovation or remodeling projects, installing skylights starts with planning. Looking at a blueprint or a mapping of your home, take into account what part of your home gets the most sunlight. Direction is very crucial when planning skylight installation. Each direction has its own strengths and weaknesses. Putting in a north-facing skylight means you will get plenty of light, but less heat. Installing it to face the West means you will get dimmer, indirect sunlight, but will still receive limited heat in the afternoon. Roofs looking towards the East will get lots of heat and sunlight in the mornings.

What to Expect from the Skylight Installation Process

What to Expect from the Skylight Installation Process

Permits are also required for skylight installation in most regions across the country. This ensures that the skylight and the roof structure surrounding it meet wind resistance standards and are sturdy enough to handle the weight of the frame and glass pane of the skylight. You can speak with a licensed contractor to learn more about the permits and other requirements in your area. 

You should also plan the size and shape of the skylight, which is usually directly based on the slope of the roof or how steep it is. A qualified professional will be more familiar with the nuances of roof slopes, sizes, shapes, and other skylight measurements needed for a successful installation.

It is highly recommended that you get a professional roofer, window installer, general contractor, or at the very least someone who is a handyperson and knows their way around tools and technical DIY projects. Skylight replacement or installation is by no means an easy project, but it does not utilize any specialized equipment or tools, making it slightly easier than more complex additions. 

  1. Creating the Opening
    Contractors measure out the length and width of the skylight. They find the exact center of the area using a measuring tape and mark it with some chalk. This mark is used as a reference point for carving out the frame as it will give a general idea of how far you are from the center of the skylight frame. The same is done to the ceiling in the room directly below.

  2. Reinforcing the Opening
    Once the opening has taken shape and matches the dimensions of the skylight's frame, using a knife or straight edge, the roof shingles are cut open depending on the dimensions of the skylight (usually about 3 inches of shingles need to be cut from the opening).

  3. Place the Skylight and Seal It
    With the opening and its surroundings now ready, the skylight is placed into the exact center and aligned to make sure the frame fits perfectly into the sill. Once the frame is aligned, using a nail gun or drill, the skylight is fastened into place. Before replacing the roof shingles, roofing paper and flashing seal the sides of the skylight.

    This sealing process is very important. While most contractors will ensure that there are no dangers of leakage after installation, one wrong nail or a missing piece of roofing paper after installation may cause a leaky roof. Skylights, unlike vertical windows, are more susceptible to leaking due to their horizontal position.

  4. Install the Waterproofing Layers
    After this is done, the bottom flashing is installed, which is the biggest piece of the underlying flashing. The flashing needs to be fitted with the individual pieces of step flashing under the shingles and nailed into the skylight frame.

  5. Final Waterproofing and Flashing
    The last step is to attach the skylight’s external flashing, to further ensure that not a single drop of water makes it through the roofing layers. External flashing is designed such that even in the heaviest rainstorms no moisture will seep through the skylight.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team