Is a skylight right for you?
Adding a skylight is an attractive way to brighten a room with natural light. But there are several things to consider before committing to the project.
Depending on the placement, a skylight may impact your curb appeal, especially on a classic or historical home.
A skylight and flashing kit are relatively inexpensive, but there could be elements to your home that add significantly to the installation and material cost. For example:
- Adding a chase – a chase is a tunnel that funnels light through your attic and into the desired room. Unless your room has a cathedral or vaulted ceiling, you will probably bear the extra expense of this addition.
- Cutting a truss – trusses provide the structural framework to the roof. They usually accommodate a two-foot skylight, but you will need a structural engineer to design alternative framing for anything bigger. As you can imagine, this is a significant cost.
What else should you consider?
Now that you’ve decided that bathing a room in beautiful sunlight is worth the trouble, there are a few more things to consider.
The sun’s path
Skylights facing south or west will collect direct sun, while those facing north or east may not get any direct sunlight. If your skylight will be receiving a lot of direct sunlight, plan for how you will control the heat. Options include remote controlled blinds or shades, a skylight that can be opened for ventilation, or a material that reduces heat gain.
Placement in the room
Think about how you use the room. You might like the idea of a view of the stars above your bed at night, but are you willing to have sun shining directly in your face in the morning? And, you may not want clear glass if someone can look into your bathroom from their second story.
The light needs to be directly under the roof or clear attic space. Once you have an idea where you’d like to add a skylight, check the attic for any HVAC, wiring, or plumbing in the way.
Glass or plastic?
Plastic comes in standard sizes and is best where weight, durability, and price are important considerations. Glass is generally preferred because it has a better appearance and can be ordered in more sizes and types.
Consider the fact that you are cutting a hole in your roof, so using durable, watertight, environmentally friendly materials is important.
DIY or hiring a professional?
Installing a skylight is a difficult undertaking, so unless you are a seasoned DIYer, it’s best to hire a professional. Work needs to be done in the attic/ceiling and on the roof and it may involve drywall work for a shaft through the attic. Plus, the waterproofing inside and out needs to be perfect
Different skylight materials and shaft configurations work for different areas in your home, and for capturing the right amount of sun. A professional will help you select the best combination for your circumstances to add light and a view to your room without overheating in the summer and letting too much heat out in the winter.