Cutting a hole in your roof is nothing to take lightly. You may be thinking that a skylight installation is more of a small project that can be done pretty easily but there are very important factors to take into consideration not only to avoid buyer’s remorse, but to ensure the structural and functional integrity of your home as well.
Skylights are a great option when you want more natural light in your home and want to save on your energy and heating bill. The right skylight can allow up to 30% more natural light in your home than say adding a regular window to a room in your house.
So if you are thinking about installing a skylight in your home take a look at some of these tips to help you make the right decision for you and your home.
Location, Location, Location
You are probably thinking about where you want your skylight but there is more to consider than just aesthetic placement. The first thing you are going to want to do if you can, is get a blueprint of your home.
The placement of your rafters will be the difference between a textbook and a nightmare installation. You are going to want to avoid cutting rafters as much as possible. The ideal skylight will fit soundly between two rafters but you may have to cut some in order to make the fit. This can add to the installation and complicate it if you are doing it yourself.
The right placement has a huge impact on how much warmth and sunshine you get from your skylight. Be sure to place it on a portion of your roof that is not obstructed by trees or a neighbor’s property.
The slope will also determine how much natural light you get. It is recommended as a general rule of thumb that you set the slope ten degrees more than how your home is situated laterally; of course this can vary so you may have to consult with a licensed roofer.
The Breakage Factor
One important thing to consider when installing a skylight is safety. Skylights are usually made of either tempered or laminated glass, both of which can be broken fairly easily. This is also why you should do your best to strategically place your skylight away from large trees or anything that can drop debris.
Typically, tempered glass shatters in small pieces but don’t shatter with sharp edges. Laminated glass includes a film which will generally keep shards of broken glass together.
Quality and Energy Efficiency
Installing a window in your roof will open your home up to more noise which is something that most homeowners don’t think about when they decide to install a skylight. There are options for noise reduction though. If sound is a concern, consider going with a double or triple-paned skylight.
The way your skylight is installed will have a huge impact on energy efficiency. Make sure that if you are hiring a roofing contractor that they are credible, accountable, licensed and bonded and are using quality materials. Improper installation will let heat seep out of your home in the winter and make it harder to cool your house off in the summer.
A proper installation will also take water-proofing into account. Whether you are installing the skylight yourself or have hired a contractor, you may want to consider having additional waterproof flashing installed to the flashing that usually comes with the skylight itself.
If you live in an area that is prone to high winds, you may want to think about wind rated skylights. Polycarbonate skylights, for example, are wind resistant but you can get skylights that are wind zone 3 rated and built for high coastal winds.
Choosing the Right Kind of Skylight
There are two major types of skylight. One is the curb mounted skylight and the other is deck mounted. Curb mounted skylights require an additional box or frame-like structure to be installed on the roof so that the skylight can sit upon it.
A deck mounted skylight requires no box structure and is built directly into the inner-decking of your roof. So what’s the difference? The most obvious difference is the appearance. A curb mounted skylight will stick out more on your roofline while the deck mounted kind is more or less flush with your roofline.
Curb mounted skylights are generally easier to replace as well, assuming that the flashing is still in good condition. Whereas, replacing a deck mounted skylight is a more involved process.
Choosing the right kind of skylight also involves contemplating the amount of sun you will be getting through it. If it is going to be letting a lot of sunlight through, then you may want to use UV coated glass which can block out 99% of UV rays.
As a homeowner, you will also have to decide whether you will want a vented or fixed skylight. With vented skylights you will have the option of closing and opening them to let air out or draw air in. Fixed skylights do not give you that option and stay shut at all times.
Once you have all this serious stuff worked out, you can reward yourself by thinking about some skylight accessories. If you have a vented skylight then you can electrically automate its opening and closing mechanism so you don’t have to do it manually.