Nothing opens up a room like a window: a source of light, air, and connection to the outside world. Some rooms in your home may not be able to support windows (such as interior rooms), or seem cramped with windows set only at one side. Skylights brighten up these dark rooms, and even small units can change the flow and feel of a room and how family and guests see it. If you think a skylight might help brighten up a murky sitting area or a claustrophobia room, it’s time to learn the basics.
Skylights: Different Terminology
For the purpose of this article, we will refer any glazed assembly that admits natural light through the roof as a skylight. Generally speaking a “roof window” refers to a skylight set low enough to show landscape (and act as a point of egress), while the term “sky window” is sometimes used for much larger glazed areas, particularly on flat roofs. For all intents and purposes, you can refer to any of these as a skylight.
Venting vs. Fixed Skylights
Skylights come in two different standards: venting and fixed units. Venting units use a special rod or electronic motor to open or close the skylight, while a fixed unit doesn’t open. When deciding between the two, it’s a matter of effort. Will the skylight be easily accessible? If it’s outside of easy reach with the tools to open it, it can as easily become more nuisance than the breeze and ventilation it can provide is worth. Fixed units usually require less maintenance and are cheaper due to the lack of moving parts.
Bathrooms and Skylights
Bathrooms are a popular location for skylights, providing them with privacy, but at the same time with natural illumination. Regardless if you decide to go with a venting or fixed skylight, one important issue will be adequate ventilation when it is closed. If you already struggle to keep your bathroom steam-clean, your skylight will quickly become a condensation magnet. If humidity is an issue in your bathroom, think about installing or upgrading the vent fan in the bathroom alongside the new skylight.
Living Rooms and Skylights
In large rooms such as living rooms, dining rooms, and sitting rooms such as sun rooms or 4 season rooms, skylights are a great addition. While they do open up a room, there are a couple of considerations for such a large and drafty space. Modern skylights can be laminated with low-e and tinted coatings. Just like with energy efficient windows, skylights have thermal and energy efficiency ratings. Tinted skylights tend to make a room too gloomy, so instead buy a shade for the skylight if the heat buildup or UV fading become an issue.
When possible, have your skylight installer also be a roofing specialist. Improperly installed skylights don’t only damage the roof, ceiling, and room first time it rains: they can also bring your house down. A skill roofer will not only provide proper installation of roof flashing and shingle trimming, they will also avoid damage to the structural rafters of your home, a real concern with unconventionally frame roofs such as with load-bearing trusses.
Have any other questions about skylights or their installation? Speak with our licensed and insured installers of roofing, siding and windows and let us provide a free estimates for your home improvement project.