One simple way to bring more value and appeal to your home is with a skylight. Relatively quick installation can take a little as four hours, allowing you to transform both the interior and exterior of your home with little disturbance to your daily life. 

Skylight vs Roof Window?

Before we can talk about skylights, let’s address a common question: is there a difference between a “skylight” and a “roof window?” Yes, but these terms are often used interchangeably, so make sure to clarify what you’re looking for when consulting with a professional. 

Typically, a skylight, while varied in shape and size, is a fixed window that’s set into the roofline; while the window itself doesn’t open, there are options for venting. A roof window is similar to a window set into a wall in that it can open with a pivoting mechanism. Roof windows are very popular and are installed in the same orientation as the roof, usually at a minimum pitch of 15 degrees, and on par with the immediate surrounding roof.

Skylights to fit your every need

A skylight can be as unique as the house it’s set in: from tubular to venting, arched or flat or pyramid-shaped, skylights can vary in shape and size to allow you to customize your home to get the unique look and feel you dream of.

There are three main types of skylights: venting, tubular, and fixed. The sole purpose of a tubular skylight is to bring light into a building – a glass or plastic globe sits on top of the roof and reflects sunlight through a polished tube, sending the light spilling into the space below. A fixed skylight has a window pane that is stationary and is considered the most leak-proof kind of skylight available. And venting skylights can be opened manually (with a panel that opens via a crank similar to a window) or electrically (the panel opens and closes via a wall switch or remote).

All glass used for skylights must be made of “safety glazing,” a generic term for both tempered and laminated glass. Tempered glass is the most impact resistant. Laminated glass is fabricated with a thin layer of plastic embedded near the center of the glass..

Is a skylight right for your home?

While a skylight can increase your personal enjoyment and add to the value of your home, it’s important to consider the pluses and minuses before jumping in.

Increased natural lighting brightens a room without the use of artificial lighting, decreasing energy costs and saving the homeowners money over time. Even just a small skylight can bring in more natural light than a standard window in a wall, sometimes even as much as 30% more. Bringing more sunlight into the home can also be a mood booster during the long, dark New England winters. More natural light can also make a space appear larger, adding to the value of a home with small square footage.

The aesthetic appeal of a skylight is another main reason people favor skylights: they bring nature into the home by providing prime viewing of foliage, clouds, and blue skies. For those who like to spruce up their living space with plants, they can bask in the sunlight brought in through a skylight and thrive in an otherwise sunless room. 

Skylights also function as a way of ventilating a space. Upper levels of buildings can trap heat and can become unbearably hot in summer months, and well-placed venting skylights allow hot air to escape and can draw in a cool breeze. Breathe fresh air into an otherwise stuffy room by cranking open your skylight for a little while – but don’t forget to close it! Some venting skylights can be fitted with a remote controlled system that also includes a rain sensor that automatically closes the skylight when water is detected.

Speaking of hot rooms, thermal impact is one potential drawback that is worth considering when thinking about installing skylights. Increased sunlight can warm up a room sometimes more than is desired, so consider the direction the skylight will face in relation to the sun’s path: a skylight that bathes a room in morning light may provide too much sunlight come afternoon. Thankfully, this common issue has several solutions: the majority of skylights are made with insulated glass that includes UV protection; as discussed, there are options for venting skylights; and lastly, mini blinds can easily be installed that can be controlled with a manual stick crank or remote control.

The other potential drawback of skylights is the potential for leaks. A skylight involves cutting a big hole in your roof – the main thing that keeps water out! While installing or replacing a skylight may seem like a simple task, this is one best left to the professionals: one small oversight can cause leaks that will lead to huge problems down the road. Thankfully, because of the possibility for water damage, professional roofers take many measures to ensure your unit is waterproofed and secure for a number of years. If done properly, your skylight can last easily fifteen years without leaks. 

Replace or Repair?

Like most other aspects of a home, skylights need maintenance and special attention from time to time. But how do you know when a skylight simply needs a little TLC, or when it’s time to call in the professionals for a replacement? There are a few rules of thumb we recommend to clients:

If your skylight’s less than five years old and you find just an occasional leak, then you most likely need an easy repair, usually around the flashings and seals. Between five and ten years of age, it’s likely that a leaking skylight needs a more in-depth assessment and a larger repair job: applying leak barriers, replacing all of the flashings, or removing and replacing roof shingles around the skylight. For skylights that are leaking consistently and are more than ten years old, homeowners should seriously consider a total replacement of the unit. Repairs at this point will be costly and recurring leaks over this amount of time are likely causing more damage to the surrounding roof area. 

Planning on re-roofing your home soon? This is the best time to replace your skylight. Due to skylights’ potential for leaks, leaving a skylight in place and trying to redo a roof around it will likely disturb the unit and the immediate surrounding area, increasing the likelihood of costly repairs down the road. 

Once you’ve decided that a skylight is right for you, contact your trusted professionals at All Roof USA for fast, hassle-free installation. We deliver long-lasting results to give you the confidence to enjoy your skylight worry-free for years to come.

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