Everything You Need to Know About SkylightsCapitol Design Build
Skylights can be a beautiful addition to your home, flooding it with natural light and adding interest as an architectural element. They light otherwise dreary spaces, bringing in as much as five times more light than a traditional window and giving the impression of a larger, airier room. Installing a skylight is a little bit complicated, however. Here are some things you need to know before you decide to install a skylight.
- There are different types of skylights. Skylights fall into three categories, ventilating, fixed, and tubular. Ventilating skylights open and close, either with manual or electric operation, providing not only extra light but also fresh air. These are a good option for rooms that get very humid, like kitchens and bathrooms. Fixed skylights look like ventilating skylights, but they don’t open. Tubular skylights have a dome that is attached to a reflective tube running from the roof to the ceiling, providing diffused light. This is a good option for a small space with no room for a traditional skylight, but it doesn’t offer ventilation or a view. Skylights also vary in size and shape. The size has a major impact on the amount of light that comes into the room, and it also affects the room’s temperature, so it’s important to get a skylight that is not too big for your room. The shape of a skylight changes the way light travels through it. If you want light that is evenly spread through the room, choose a skylight that flares out, but if you want a focused light, choose one with straight edges.
- Not every roof can handle a skylight. Skylights are installed beneath the roof shingles and sheathing, so the roof’s construction factors into its ability to support a skylight. Stick-framed roofs, with individual rafters widely spaced apart, are better for skylight installation because there is room to cut and place a skylight between the rafters. Truss framed roofs, made of prefabricated triangles, are not designed to be cut after installation, making it hard to put a skylight into them. The slope of the roof also comes into play, and even if you have a stick framed roof, a roof that is not sloped enough to allow water to run of is not suitable for a skylight.
- Placement is important. You want your skylight to let in the perfect amount of light, not too much or too little. Obviously, your skylight will need to be in a room directly under the roof, but beyond that, give some consideration to its placement. North-facing skylights are considered ideal for the soft, diffused light they allow into the room all day and the way they help keep the room at a comfortable temperature. East-facing skylights let in the most light and heat in the morning, west-facing let in more sunshine in the late afternoon, and south-facing skylights tend to overheat the room.
- Skylights can cause a glare. Sometimes, especially if you are not careful in your placement, skylights can give off an uncomfortable glare that can make your roof hot, your room too bright, and can even fade your furniture or bedding. If you discover that your skylight is too bright or causes glare, consider adding a shade or filter to tone it down.
- Skylights come in different materials. Some skylights are made of acrylic or plastic, which is cheaper than glass, but these tend to become discolored and brittle over time. Glass is more expensive, but it’s the material of choice for many builders and homeowners, because it’s durable and doesn’t yellow. Install a double-paned glass skylight with a low-e coating for maximum efficiency and sun protection. You can also choose coatings that provide privacy and help control the temperature.
- Not every skylight is energy efficient. In fact, they vary widely in energy performance, so look for a skylight with ENERGY STAR or NFRC ratings. You can choose between heat-absorbing tints, insulated glazing, and low-emissivity (low-e) coatings to make the skylight even more energy efficient.
- Your skylights will require some maintenance. To keep your skylights clean, dust them with a telescopic dust mop each month. Inspect them every week or two for leaks, and deep clean them once a year, using a using a sponge mop to clean the inside and a telescoping pressure washer for the outside. Annually, have a professional inspect your skylights, looking for tell-tale signs of structural damage.
- Skylight installation should be left to the professionals. It is a complicated project that can take upwards of 3 days to complete, and it’s definitely not something to DIY.
When it’s time to renovate your home, Capitol Design Build can help. We’ve been performing custom remodeling since 1989 and building custom, high-end homes in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area for 29 years. We serve businesses and individuals in Virginia, Washington D.C, and Maryland, meeting every need from kitchen renovation and bathroom remodeling to custom home design and building. With experience spanning many disciplines, including engineering, design, remodeling, construction, and customer service, we look forward to working with you. Feel free to shop our website, call us at (703) 436-6919, or contact us online for a free, no-obligation estimate.