By October 26, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Skylights Provide a Window on Your Roof

Skylights are becoming a more popular roof window addition in both residential and commercial buildings. Architects and home owners are recognizing not only the beauty that they add, but the benefits that they offer as well.


The primary benefit of skylights is that they provide natural light in your home. A roof skylight can deliver five times the amount of light that is provided by a window of the same size. Since the source of light is on the roof, it is seldom, if ever shaded or blocked.

According to studies, there are many health benefits gained by exposure to natural light. One of the vitamins that people need to stay healthy is vitamin D. An increase in vitamin D will boost a person’s energy level and help improve a their mood. Sunlight is known to help the body produce this essential vitamin. Furthermore, people who do not get enough exposure to natural light often suffer from various seasonal disorders.

Since the skylight is in the roof, it offers some great views of the outdoors. You can see starlight, clouds, or rain without having to go outside. If you have to stay indoors because of the weather or illness, you can still enjoy the outdoors.


There are a few downsides to having skylights in your roof.

Without careful planning and installation, skylights can bring additional heat into your home in the summer, while letting heat escape during the winter. To lessen this disadvantage you must carefully plan the slope or angle of the skylight as well as its location. Both of these choices will impact the heat gain and loss. Adding exterior or interior shading can also help with this potential problem.

Next, poor construction can result in skylights that are drafty and leak in rainy weather.

Lastly, because they are in the roof, skylights can be difficult to clean. You may have to use a ladder or a cleaning tool with an extension to reach them.


Skylights come in all shapes and sizes. They can be installed as a single unit or can be used in many different combinations. The height of the skylights available varies as does their shapes. Skylights can be completely flat, or they can be raised. Domes, flat top pyramids, traditional pyramids, ridge lite and low profile domes are among the most common choices.

Consider how the skylight will look to people passing by when choosing a style. You want the skylight to contribute to the curb appeal of your home.

Glass or Plexiglas?

Many homeowners choose to have their roof window constructed of glass. Your options here include two types of safety glass, tempered and laminated. If it is struck, tempered glass shatters into many small pieces. Laminated glass is typically made of plastic between two pieces of glass. If it is struck, the interlayer of plastic holds the glass fragments together.

Although a glass skylight is a great choice, it is by no means the only choice. Many individuals prefer to have the panes made of acrylic or Plexiglas. These plastic panes won’t shatter like glass and they weigh less than glass. However, over time, Plexiglas skylights are more likely to deteriorate because of exposure to the sun’s heat and ultraviolet (UV) rays.


The panes can be treated with other special products, such as a film, which can reduce the effects of the sun’s UV rays. In extremely warm climates, you might want to consider having the windows tinted. Panes can be either single or double. Double panes offer more insulation.

Fixed or Vented?

You can also choose to have a fixed skylight or one that opens.

A fixed skylight is sealed in the factory and is fixed in place on your roof. It will let light in, but can’t be open to let air in. If installed properly, it should not leak at all.

A vented skylight is one that can be opened. These are very useful for kitchens or bathrooms where they can let the air flow out. This type is more prone to leaking, but that’s usually the result of a poor installation job. And, if you forget to close a vented roof skylight, a sudden storm can bring rain or snow into your home.

Skylights can be opened manually, by using a specially designed pole or crank. Automatic and remote control opening and closing options are also available.


The frame of the skylight is another decision that you should investigate. Wood, vinyl and steel are the most common options. Many manufacturers use a combination of materials to produce the longest lasting and most durable product possible.

Sky Tunnels

There is another option that is available if you want to install a skylight, and that is a sky tunnel or a tubular skylight.

This type of roof window is an ideal way of providing natural light in places that may not be large enough for a skylight or for areas where the usual skylight wouldn’t fit. Areas such as a hallway, closet, or small room would be possibilities.

Tunnels are made with a light collector in the roof. This directs sunlight into the tube that has a highly reflective interior surface. The tube than sends the light to a diffuser lens on the interior of the ceiling. The light is then spread evenly below. From the inside of the room, the lens looks like a light fixture.

Although they do provide additional light to your interior, sky tunnels do not provide a view of the outside.

Tubular skylights are typically lightweight and can usually be installed without modifying the roof structure. This makes them easier to install than traditional skylights.

Installation: DIY or Contractor?

Because it involves the structure of the roof, installing a skylight is considered a more difficult do-it-yourself job. If you want to tackle this job yourself, you should feel comfortable doing a window installation, as well as having roofing and carpentry skills.

Tubular skylights are sold in kits, so are a more likely candidate for a do-it-yourself project.

The most expensive installation option would be a window company, although for your money they should be able to recommend the ideal skylight and placement for your home.

General contractors with skylight experience will likely be the middle cost option. You can probably save even more money by researching and selecting the skylight yourself.


For a traditional skylight, the size and materials chosen will affect how much you will pay. Typical skylight prices range from around US$250 to US$600 for a single skylight. Venting and shading options cost more. A skylight with automated options can be US$1000 or more.

Tubular skylights usually cost less than a roof skylight. You can get one for from about $150 for a small basic model to more than $400 for larger models.

Installation would be extra.


Skylights are an ideal way to brighten any room or area of the house. And the natural light and views can really enhance the beauty and value of your home. Just be sure to think through all the possible options and plan the job carefully.

Posted in: Skylights

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