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Skylight Installations

Let Some Extra Light Brighten Up Even the Darkest Rooms

Natural sunlight is at a premium in home construction. Windows and doors can only do so much, and with most of the sun's rays wasted on your roof, it makes sense that this is the optimum place for a window. Enter skylights. Home Improvement Educator brings you a complete skylight installation and buying guide as well as providing accurate data on how much you can expect to pay for this project.

Installing a Skylight

Skylights can be installed in nearly any type of roof with ease. The main installation concern is maintaining the structural integrity and load bearing properties of the roof. This is achieved through proper framing. After a specific location is chosen (based on personal preference and sunlight exposure), the roof framing is exposed from the interior and exterior of the home. Specific measurements are used to determine where the existing framing must be cut to allow the skylight to fit in the roof. New framing is installed horizontally and attached to the uncut rafters on either side of the cut rafter(s) to allow the cut rafters to continue to perform a supporting function.

New vertical framing is attached to the newly installed upper and lower horizontal framing members to allow the entire perimeter of the skylight flange to rest on a solid surface as well as provide adequate nailing for the soon-to-be installed plywood and sheetrock. After these boards are in place, the skylight unit itself is dropped in place from the exterior (skylights are supported by a metal flange that rests on the exterior roof framing and sheathing). Modified bitumen flashing is installed over the flange (VERY important!), and the final roof covering (shingles, metal, tiles, etc.) replaced as needed. Most skylight manufacturers have final metal flashings that must be woven into the roof covering to give an added layer of protection.

Types of Skylights

There are several types of skylights commercially available in a wide variety of styles and sizes, each with their own unique properties. They are discussed in detail below:
  • Tubular Skylights: These skylights are used in areas that normal skylights wouldn't be able to access such as a hallway or a 2nd floor bedroom with an attic above. They include a traditional exterior skylight kit, but come with a long, clear tube that extends through an attic or unusually thick roof deck that allows natural light into an area that otherwise wouldn't receive any.
  • Ventilating Skylights: This skylight option allows natural light in while also functioning like an awning window, allowing fresh air into a room. These skylights are often controlled with a remote due to the inaccessibility of the skylight. Manufacturers also offer an automated unit which opens and closes based on the temperature of the room.
  • Fixed Skylights: A traditional skylight that has one function - to allow natural light into an area. This is the most common type of skylight.

Skylight Materials and Installation Costs

The following prices are based on national averages; your actual costs will vary depending on your specific location. They also assume an average size skylight (24"x36") and average materials; large, high quality units can easily double the prices given.
  • Fixed skylights are the most economical option, costing $200-$300 for the skylight itself.
  • Ventilating skylights start around $350 and can cost as much as $600-$700 for a remote or automated unit.
  • tubular skylight kit starts at around $350-$400, depending on the length the tube must travel. A 4 foot, 10-inch diameter section costs $50-$75.
  • Installation of a skylight, including any interior sheetrock installation and/or repair needed, costs between $500 and $1,000 depending on the type of roof covering and difficulty of installation.

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