When it comes to rooms which are in the center of the house, we often find ourselves wondering if there’s a way to create light beyond flipping a switch. Thankfully for us, there is. It’s called a skylight, which you’ve very likely heard of before, and they’re actually more common than you’d think. The use of skylights (also called a roof light) was until quite recently questioned in America because certain safety hazards had been overinflated. These have been brushed off as untrue, and so popularity of these interesting windows has been on the rise again.
Skylights are a way for light to be transmitted from sunlight directly in a room. They lie on the roof of a house at the same angle as the roof stands, this allows for rain and snow to fall easily off the surface. They aren’t always a single small window either, and there are often 2 or 3 in a row which allows for maximum daylight filtration into the room. What’s really appealing about the larger designs is that they allow someone inside to see more of a view of the sky above, and the light acts as a natural alarm clock. These larger windows also serve as a way to create natural warmth in summertime.
There are 2 main subtypes of skylight, those which can open (venting skylights) and those which are fixed and remain closed. For people who live in the Northern states it’s more common not to have skylights which open as the ventilation while good in summer, isn’t needed for winter, especially in those states which get an annual snowfall. Shapes can vary, but the most common is a large or small rectangle or square window.
What do I need in order to install my own?
Installing a skylight is not an easy task, as it requires you to be walking on the roof of your home, and also requires some knowledge of roofing and insulation, so unless you’re confident in these things we suggest you talk to a professional.
If you are confident enough to to try this yourself, then here’s what you need to know:
- Firstly, you need to clear the space under the area the light will go and whether or not it’s going to be suited to your home. This means attic space, work space, ceiling and roof have to be clear, and you have to decide whether your home’s design will fit a skylight.
- Constructing the window means you have to cut a hole in the roof, remove all of the insulation, install the supporting structure and finally the frames and panes.
- Before placing all of the necessary parts, make sure your materials are of the highest quality, because the window will be in direct contact with the elements. Also remember to properly seal all of the parts as you install them to prevent rainwater damage to your roof and ceilings.
- You can add decoration to your skylight if you choose to, which may obstruct the view slightly, but will create a more interesting aesthetic to the area once sun-lit.
- There may be practical things you want to add onto your skylight too, depending on where it’s being used. In a bathroom for instance, you may want to add ventilation to stop a buildup of moisture due to steam from showers or baths. The same can be said if you have the window above your laundry or kitchen. There are also daylight dimmers available if you want more natural light in your own room but enjoy a sunday afternoon nap.
Taking care of your skylight
Clean your skylight by use of a telescoping squeegee, but don’t do it in the hottest part of the day. If you need to clean the outside you’ll have to go onto your roof, so be sure to be very careful when doing this.
Regularly check the window for leaks or water marks, as well as inspecting the glass for any cracks. If they need to be repaired or replaced, then contact a roofing contractor to get the job done.
Skylights with moving parts mean checking those parts too. If you have a venting skylight, there will be gears you will need to inspect once every few months. For out-of-reach windows, there are sometimes motors, and if you have motorized blinds or any motorized blinds you should inspect the motor at least once every few months.
Remember, if there is any wood in the frame or in the construction of the supports, you should check this too, as wood can be damaged by water and condensation. Keeping it in good condition means varnish or paintwork every so often. Keeping the frame clean is also a must,as it increases the lifespan of the window.
Skylights with shutters or blinds
Shutters can be a fantastic addition to any skylight, as they allow you to control the amount of light you receive. They are permanently fixed to the window, and can be manually or automatically operated depending on the height of the window. Shutters with louvers are the best option as they control exact amounts of light and provide a very effective way of filtering glare.
Material options for shutters are varied, and there can be anything from natural, lightly stained wood to pre colored PVC. You can also get shutters in composites and aluminium. Remember that window shutters do come in standard sizes and shapes, any oddly shaped skylight will need a custom built shutter.
Blinds are a good light and heat filter. You can raise or lower them to control the light filtering, and can also be operated manually or electrically.
Blinds come in many shapes and sizes, as well a many material choices, such as natural bamboo or wood, or aluminium and vinyl.
Blinds that you choose for the job will have to be resistant to sunlight as they receive more than regular blinds would.
There are also lots of different blinds to choose from, such as block-out blinds, pleated honeycomb and solar reflective blinds. You may also get light filtering or venetian blinds which can work for skylights, so choose what best fits your home.
Aside from the remotes which can be used to control the motors on a roof light, there is some other technology which is improving these windows and their uses. Advances in glass and plastic have meant that a skylight surface can be glazed to greatly filter the amount of glare coming through, while still retaining the ability to create up to 3 times more light than side windows. Similar advances have positively affected the strength, durability and weather resistance of materials used in making skylight panes.
Active daylighting is a type of skylighting which is slightly more technologically advanced. It comprizes a small tubular light, which uses fiber optic element to light areas of the house which receives light from a light condensing unit on the roof, similar to a standard skylight.
Before considering which type of skylight you’d like to install in your home, chat to a professional and see whether it would be worthwhile investing in having one (or more) installed.