What You Need To Know Before You Put In A Skylight

What You Need To Know Before You Put In A Skylight

SkylightSkylights can completely change a room. They soak a room in natural light, making it bright and cozy at the same time. Skylights can also provide ventilation, which is a plus for kitchens and bathrooms.

A lot of people are concerned about installing a new skylight and worry about cutting a hole in their roof. This is a valid concern, but as long as you choose quality materials and hire an experienced contractor you shouldn’t have to worry about leaks.

Skylights are available in variations. They can be flat, domed, fixed, or vented and come in many shapes other than a rectangle. Fixed skylights cannot be opened, but vented skylights can— either manually or remotely with an electric motor.

Fixed vs. Vented

  • A fixed skylight will be virtually leak-proof since they are sealed during manufacturing. The stark majority of leaks with fixed skylights are due to improper installation and usually due to poor flashing techniques. Always ask for riveted and soldered flashing kits custom made for each curb size. They wrap the corners to seal once and for all.

  • Vented skylights can certainly present opportunities for leakage because they are not sealed shut, however the makers of vented skylights have made vast improvements to their products to prevent leaks.

  • A vented skylight can be left open by accident and allow rain and debris to get into your house. To solve this problem, there are skylights available that will close automatically if they senses raindrops.

  • Vented skylights let built-up moisture escape from kitchens and bathrooms. You can also vent out excess heat, an option not available with a fixed skylight.

  • You can find fixed skylights for under $300 (not including costs for other materials or installation) while a vented skylight with all the bells and whistles can cost your more than $1,500.


To ensure that you get all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks of having a skylight, it is vital to have it installed properly. This usually means hiring a professional. In addition to following the instructions provided by the skylight’s manufacturer, you should also consider slope and moisture control.


The slope or angle of your skylight will affect the amount of solar heat it absorbs into your home. A skylight with low slope will admit more solar heat in the summer and less in the winter, which is typically the opposite of what homeowners want. To keep a handle on your indoor air conditions (and your energy bills) make sure that your skylight’s slope is set to around 10 degrees more than the geographical latitude of your location. For example, the best angle for a south-facing skylight in Portland, Oregon, at 45 degrees North latitude, is about 55 degrees.

Moisture Control

Leaks often present themselves when skylights are installed improperly. Here are some tips to avoid this:

  • Install your skylight above the surface of your roof with a minimum of a 2X6-inch curb

  • Use flashing kits provided by the manufacturer if available or have a sheet metal company build the flashing kit  to fit your curb width plus ¼” to allow for step flashing the sides and 1” above height of the curb and bend it over.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation and upkeep.

Frequently Asked Skylight Questions

Q: “Do I need to wait until the summer to install a skylight?”

A: Nope. While it’s certainly preferable to install a skylight when the weather is dry, contractors and window installers can put in your skylight almost year-round. In fact, you may be able to get a discount on installation during the winter months when a contractor’s business is slower.

Q: “Should I be worried about tree limbs falling and breaking my skylight?”

A: Skylights are made with either tempered or laminated glass, which can break. If you have large trees around your home, limbs falling in a storm is a risk you take. In this case, laminated glass would be suggested. Laminated glass is coated with a film that will keep the glass pieces in place if the skylight is broken. If tempered glass broken, like automotive glass it will shatter into thousands of smooth pieces.

Q: “Will I have to cut roof trusses to accommodate my skylight?”

A: Not necessarily. There are skylights on the market that will fit between regularly-sized rafters (24 or 16 inches). But, if you have your heart set on a larger skylight, you will need to cut a roof support or two.

If you’d like a free estimate on a skylight installation, call us or fill out this quick form and we will contact you ASAP!

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