When considering investing in a skylight installation, it is important to understand your options, as well as the pros and cons of those options. To help jumpstart your skylight knowledge, we put together a short list of 5 things to know before starting a skylight installation.

skylight roof

  1. Roof Type Matters

Given the fact that skylights are installed at the roofline beneath the roof shingles and sheathing, ceiling skylights aren’t right for all roof types. That said, it is important to consider the framing, which typically is one of two types – stick-framed roofs and truss-framed roofs. Skylights for homes tend to be best suited for stick-framed roofs because their individual rafters leave adequate space to cut and fit a skylight between the rafters. However, truss-framed roofs are less ideal as they generally aren’t designed to be cut after installation. 

Please note that if you end up adding a skylight to a truss-framed roof, you may end up having to settle for a smaller skylight installation to fit the limited space available between the beams that make up each truss. Also, even though stick-framed roofs are often easier to work with when it comes to skylight installations, the slope of a roof could still pose some challenges. Gable, hip, and shed roof shapes are most ideal because they all have a slope that will help divert rainwater and debris downward off the skylight roof.

  1. Glass or Plastic Glazing

Did you know that glass isn’t the only option for glazing? Skylight windows consist of a wood, metal, or vinyl frame that holds a light-transmitting piece called glazing. Glazing comes in two options, plastic or glass skylight glazing. Below are the pros and cons of of each glazing type:

  • Glass Glazing:
      • Pros: 
        • Long lifespan
        • Up to 50% less outside noise 
        • Classic look
        • Less likely to discolor and oxidize
        • Blocks out more UV rays
      • Cons: 
        • Higher upfront costs
        • Twice as heavy
  • Plastic Glazing:
    • Pros: 
      • Generally more affordable
      • Light in weight
      • Cheaper to replace 
      • Less likely to break
      • More control on transmittance
    • Cons: 
      • Blocks little to no UV light
      • Can easily fade and yellow
      • People tend to like the look of the traditional glass
      • Doesn’t block out as much sound
  1. Protective Glazing Films – Light Regulation and Privacy

Protective glazing films and coverings not only help to regulate the amount of light that enters through the skylight, but also helps control temperature levels and improve privacy. With glazing films, you can dial back the brightness, glare, and heat in a given room and even improve privacy by tinting the glazing with colored window film or installing a shade. Tinting can also be used to create a softly-lit setting and can additionally help a skylight block out UV light.

Another way to regulate light and increase privacy is with skylight shades. Skylight shades often come in remote-controlled or manually operated varieties that can be drawn open or closed with a chord.

  1. Skylight with Air Ventilation 

Although most skylight installations come in fixed varieties that are always closed, some skylight varieties are ventable and can open or close whenever you’d like. Since fixed skylights transmit only light, they are designed to keep heat in and moisture out – making them energy-efficient and less prone to leaks. However, they don’t allow for air circulation, making them a better option for rooms that are already well-ventilated. Although vented skylights can increase the risk of leaks and heat loss they can still be a good choice for rooms with poor air circulation as it can help let fresh air and natural light in.

  1. Location, Location, Locations

When thinking about where on the roof to install a skylight, remember the location matters more than you may think. Most commonly people decide on a specific room that they want to bring more light into. Ideally this room is directly below the roof – for example, a bonus room with little to no overhead lighting, an attic, or a guest bedroom. Once you have decided on the room, you and your installer will then have to determine which section of the roof above that room meets the minimum slope requirements in the given manufacturer’s specs for your skylight window. Generally, you want to install a skylight at a 5% to 15% slope to help avoid any water puddling.

The direction that the ceiling skylight is facing is equally important. North-facing skylights are often thought of as optimal, as they can supply year-round illumination. Something to try to avoid is positioning the skylight where your view would be blocked by taller nearby buildings and other obstructions. Large trees can also block your view but can be desirable for homeowners in hot climates who may want a tad more shade.

If you would like more information on getting a skylight installed in your home, don’t hesitate to reach out to RT Roofing Specialist. We serve all of San Diego County and would be more than happy to assist you with all of your roofing needs. Give us a call at (858) 206-9685 today!