Where is the Best Location On the Roof For A Skylight?

When you begin planning to add skylights to your home, you definitely want to consider the indoor aspects of the skylight – what rooms, where you’d like the light to hit in the room, and how the skylight will affect the room in general. However, you also need to consider the best location on the roof for the skylight.

Skylight Direction

There are several reasons to consider the direction your skylight will be facing. First, consider how much solar heat the skylight will allow into your home. If your skylight faces south, you’ll get direct sunlight throughout the day, which means more heat coming into your home. If you live in a warmer area, energy efficient skylights and adding solar reflective glazing can help manage the heat, but you should still consider that when placing your skylights. Remember that solar reflective glazing also significantly reduces glare, but still provides a great view of the outside.

Another consideration for direction is how much natural light you want. Skylights facing north will give you a consistent amount of natural light throughout the day, but you may want an eastern-facing skylight for the morning light. Look at any trees or other obstructions around your home as well. This can help you decide what direction to face your new skylight.

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Home Construction

When deciding on your skylight placement, consider how your roof is built. If you have a stick-framed roof, you’ll need to know where the rafters are, because you’ll need to place the skylight between rafters.  This requires the least construction modification.   If your chosen skylight location is where you have a rafter, cutting into that rafter could compromise the structural integrity of the roof.  You may need the advice of an architect or structural engineer. Stick-framed roofs are more suitable for skylights, because they generally leave more room to fit a skylight.

If you have a truss-framed roof, installing a skylight may be tricky. Trusses have smaller spaces between beams, and it’s not in your best interest to cut into those beams without consulting a structural engineer.  You may need to install a smaller skylight in order to work with the space you have. You may want to choose a skylight width that is within the truss spacing.

In either case, make sure you know where your rafters or beams are before you decide on skylight placement.

Placement to Avoid Leaks

Even after you consider direction and the underlying roof construction, you’ll want to look at the surface of the roof to avoid placements that can increase the possibility of leaks. Avoid roof valleys and seams where debris can build up. You’ll also want to stay away from the eaves of the roof. If you do need to use an area near a valley, seam, or eave, check with your skylight installer for any additional precautions or adjustments needed to be sure the skylight is installed properly. 

Another place on the roof that requires special consideration is a flat area that doesn’t have enough pitch, or angle. Your skylight should be sloped, as that allows rain water, dirt and debris to run off. Curb mounted skylights are recommended for flat roofs, so be aware of the type of skylight and any installation requirements required due to the roof’s slope.  

Consider placing the skylight higher on the roof. In most cases, this placement allows more light to come into your home. It also stays cleaner, because gravity helps most debris move towards the lower parts of the roof.

Knowing how to place the skylight on your roof before you start installation helps you to make the process easier for both you and your installer. When you consider direction, your roof construction, and the layout of your roof, it can be easier to decide where you want skylights and envision how they will look in your home. 

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