6 Things to Know About Skylights Before You Install
Skylights are windows set in the roof or ceiling of a home as opposed to the walls. They are an excellent way to add natural light to darker rooms and can even help reduce utility costs by generating extra warmth in cold weather and allowing for added ventilation. Before you install, however, there are a few questions you might want to consider.
1. Where Can I Install a Skylight?
Skylights can benefit almost every room. Some of the more common places they are found include:
Skylights over the kitchen can enhance light and free up wall space that would have otherwise been taken up by traditional windows, allowing for additional shelving/cabinetry. Furthermore, vented skylights may be opened during cooking to keep cooking odors to a minimum.
In addition to the added natural light during the day, skylights add a touch of whimsy to your bedtime routine. Place your bed directly beneath the skylight window for a clear view of the night sky. Tinted skylights and skylight blinds are available options to improve quality of sleep by blocking out any unwanted light from street traffic or the rising sun.
Bathrooms are often some of the most underlit homes in the house, and skylights can help mitigate this issue while maintaining privacy. Vented options can also help circulate air and moisture and reduce mold and mildew.
Living Room/Family Room
Since living rooms tend to be some of the largest rooms in the house, they also tend to be the most difficult to light properly. A skylight addition significantly improves natural lighting and may help regulate heating and cooling, with proper location and installation.
Bonus rooms do not typically meet the coding standards of a traditional room. Notably, they tend to lack closets and windows. Nonetheless, they can add significant value to the home and may offer certain tax benefits when used as, say, a home office. A skylight is a worthwhile addition to these rooms to bring in outside light and make the “bonus room” feel more like a “real room.”
2. What Are The Different Types of Skylights?
There are three main types of skylights, each with its own advantages and applications.
Fixed skylights are the most common type of skylight. They are designed to bring in natural light to out-of-reach areas and can provide enhanced views due to their larger size. Potential drawback: fixed skylights do not open and therefore do not provide additional ventilation.
Tubular skylights are ideal for more enclosed spaces, such as closets, pantries, and hallways. They are smaller in size and much easier to install. Potential drawback: tubular skylights do not bring in as much light as fixed skylights, nor do they offer appreciable views of the sky.
Vented skylights are sometimes called “roof windows.” This version is suitable for nearly any room, but especially for areas with excess moisture like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Vented skylights are comparable in size to fixed versions, but they can be opened manually or electronically to let fresh air in and moisture out.
They are also easier to clean than fixed or tubular versions since the outside panel can be accessed from the inside. Potential drawback: vented skylights may cost more than fixed or tubular versions and can be more complicated to install.
3. How Much Do Skylights Cost?
In general, skylights on their own are an affordable upgrade to your home, especially if you are doing the installation yourself. For example:
● A manual Velux roof window that measures 21×37 ¾” will cost about $500.
● A fixed Velux skylight that measures 21×46 ½” is listed at about $400.
However, this cost can rise considerably depending on the type of skylight, where it is located, and additional professional labor requirements. You will need to consider the most efficient way to cut into existing asphalt shingles or tiles and allow for the possibility of additional flashing; it may also be necessary to add a shaft from the roof to the ceiling and repaint underneath. All of these steps can have a significant impact on the final cost of your skylight project.
4. Can I Install a Skylight Myself?
Individuals with experience in carpentry and roofing may be able to successfully install a skylight as a DIY project. However, as mentioned above, the installation process can be complicated and involve numerous alterations to the home’s architecture, including:
● Removing roof shingles
● Cutting a hole into the roof
● Framework to fit the new window
● Flashing and siding to waterproof and seal the window
● Reshingling certain areas of the roof
● Patching up the ceiling underneath the new window
Due to the complex nature of the installation, as well as the risk of injury or a botched project that causes leaks, it is recommended that you leave roof installation to the professionals.
5. Are Skylights Energy-Efficient?
When skylights were first introduced, there was a concern that solar gain during the summer months would result in overheating of the home. This is not the case today. Skylight manufacturers use numerous techniques, including specialized glazing and insulation materials, to mitigate the heat introduced into the home from direct sun exposure. As a result, skylights can help regulate the home’s temperature and save on energy costs year-round.
6. How Do I Maintain My Skylights?
Skylights are a great addition to your home, but they do require proper care and cleaning to ensure they stay leak-free and protect your home from damage:
● Keep Your Skylight Clean
To maintain a clear shine on the inside of your skylight, use a soft cloth saturated with plain, clean water. Non-abrasive household cleaners, such as glass cleaners, can also be used.
● Be Vigilant About Leaks
○ Clean leaves and debris that accumulate around your skylight, which can affect its ability to wick away rainwater and prevent leaks.
○ If you live in a climate with snow, make sure melting snow and ice can drain off from the roof to surrounding gutters and downspouts so it doesn’t pool around the skylights and flashing.
○ Make it a point to look at the interior of your skylights regularly and particularly after heavy rain or winter storms. Take note of anything that looks out of the ordinary, such as water stains on the ceiling, damp spots on the carpet, or other unusual changes.
● Have Skylights Inspected Once Per Year
Certain problems may not be visible to the untrained eye. It is therefore a good idea to have your skylights professionally inspected annually. A common problem that homeowners often miss is the loosening of the flashing surrounding the skylight, which permits water to enter between the roofline and skylight opening. A professional will be able to spot this problem and perform the necessary repairs.
● Regularly Test Your Skylight Mechanisms
○ If you see condensation on your skylight, it is a sign you need to open it more often. Regular ventilation is the most efficient way to prevent condensation build-up.
○ Check to see that your skylight opens and closes properly. This will help avoid any potential leaks.
Need Help With Your Skylight?
Skylights are most cost-effective when installed on a new build or a roof that is due to be replaced. J&K Roofing offers free roof inspections in the Denver Metro, Front Range, Colorado Springs, and Northern Colorado areas. We have built over 50,000 roofs in our 37 years in business and can help you determine if and when to add skylights to your roofing project. Contact us today to see how we can help.