Skylights are amazing features in a home. They are currently very much in style, and very practical in a lot of ways. You’ve looked at the benefits and decided you want one. That’s great! But what’s your next step? Some people think choosing a skylight and having it installed is difficult, but if you consider a few things before you call someone out to install your new skylight, the process is easier than you’d think!
Type of Skylights. One of the first things you need to consider is the type of skylights you need. This may be something to discuss with your installer to ensure you get the right type of skylight for your roof type. For typical sloped, shingled roofs, a deck mounted skylight is a good choice. It seals directly to the roof and has a low profile. A self-flashing style (which has a built-in flange for sealing to the roof) can cost a little more but will be easier and cheaper to install in the long run.
A curb-mount skylight sits on a pre-built curb, much like a shoebox lid. You’ll need to use this type of a skylight for low-pitched roofs or where you plan to replace an existing old curb mounted skylight.
Roof Replacement. Because you will need to remove the roofing on and around the area of your new skylight, the best time to add or replace skylights is when you’re replacing the roof. If you know you’ll need to take care of the roof in the near future, you should at least consider waiting until you replace the roof to install your skylights. This will save money and time.
Installer Experience. Research anyone who installs skylights in your home. You’ll need someone with experience, because if it’s not done correctly, your roof could leak around the skylight. You don’t want to have the added expense of additional work later. Many skylight installers with the most experience are roofers. Check out anyone who’ll install skylights before you hire them. Ask how many skylights the installer has done, whether they’re familiar with installing the type of skylights you want on your roof type, and ask others for recommendations. Your skylight supplier may have recommendations of experienced installers in your area.
Glazing. You can choose either glass or plastic for your skylight, and you can also choose a variety of glass colors. Plastic is less expensive but does degrade with exposure, causing it to become hazy and brittle, and it isn’t as energy efficient as glass. A quality skylight is made with double-paned, insulated, tempered glass. Many skylights have a standard tint that helps cut UV rays and solar heat gain, but you can choose different colors and levels of tint to meet your style preferences.
Heat and Light. Since your skylights are like windows, (but more horizontal), they let lots of additional sunlight into your home. This is great to add to your natural lighting, but it can also add heat, especially in the summer. If your roof is in the full sun, you should consider how to soften the glare and reduce heat gain from the skylight. The simplest way is to choose the right glazing, like solar reflective glass, which has been coated to further reduce glare, UV, and heat.
Shape. You may not think about it, but skylights can be made in many shapes other than rectangles. Just like the windows in your house, your skylights can be triangular, trapezoidal or almost any custom shape you can imagine. You can add an interesting architectural element with your skylights. Think about the shape you want before you call an installer.
Placement. Skylights will work in many rooms in your home. You’ll need to consider where you want to let in additional light, see the sky, and make a beautiful statement. If you install in a bedroom, you can look at the stars as you’re falling asleep. A skylight in your kitchen can add light so you can see better while cooking. You can even install a skylight in your bathroom so you can watch clouds as you’re bathing! Two or three skylights in a cathedral ceiling in your great room are visually stunning. Consider the location of your rafters. Skylights are made in sizes to fit between rafters, which simplifies installation. Several longer, narrow skylights placed parallel make a great looking arrangement that will not require cutting and reinforcing the rafters. Consider every room on the top level of your home, and be creative with the placement of your skylights.
Where You Need Light. Sometimes a sunroom or porch addition actually makes the adjacent room darker, because the inner windows are covered. This is the perfect place for a skylight. If you install skylights in the sunroom roof, more light shines through the inner windows. Rooms with no windows, for example an interior powder room, are also excellent candidates for a skylight. Again – be creative!
Multiple Skylights. More is usually better, especially with skylights! We often think of one skylight above an area. If you have two or three in your great room, however, you’ll let in additional light and the grouping is even prettier than a single skylight. A larger skylight makes a bigger impact, but may require a custom order, which can cost a bit more than stock sizes. A grouping of two, three, or even more skylights in a larger area are also very pretty.
After you consider everything, you’ll be more prepared for that call with the installer you choose – and your installer will be better informed to work up an estimate for the cost of the skylight and installation. Thinking through these decisions early on will prevent surprises and save you time and money later.