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Basic Steps for Installing a Skylight

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By : Jilda Peterson    99 or more times read
A skylight is a great way to add natural light to your home, making even a cloudy day a little brighter. Especially if you live in a northern climate, adding natural light to your home can be beneficial to your mood and overall well-being.

A skylight also adds to the value of your home and is a desirable amenity for future buyers. It can be easily added to a single story home or to the upper level of a multi-story home. A skylight is not difficult to install and even if you are not confident about getting on the roof yourself, it is fairly easy to find a competent contractor to properly install a skylight. Do keep in mind that many municipalities require a building permit for skylight installation.

Choosing a Location for the Skylight

In a home with a conventionally framed room, a skylight can be installed just about anywhere because the rafters will be cut and reframed to accommodate the skylight. In a home with a truss roofing system the skylight can only be installed between the engineered rafters. There are other considerations to keep in mind as well: The location of heating vents and ductwork, electrical wires or conduit, HVAC systems and other systems or obstructions should be avoided or moved.

As far as decorative possibilities, any room can benefit from the beauty of a skylight, so a skylight is a bright idea for any room with roof access. Newer tube style skylights with reflective interior cells need only a very small hole on the roof but flood the room with natural light from sunrise to sunset, so they are a great choice for dark rooms.

Basic Installation:

  1. The drywall and insulation should be removed from the chosen area. With a conventional roof, the joist is cut and the opening is framed with lumber that matches the size of the joists. If the home has cathedral ceiling or if the skylight is on the second floor and there is no attic space, the roof can now be cut out. If there is attic space, a plumb bob is used to determine the corresponding location for cutting the roofing material.

  2. Except in the case of a cathedral ceiling or second floor ceiling with no attic above, it will be necessary to build a shaft from the roof hole to the opening in the drywall. The shaft can be framed with 2x4ís or with plywood that is nailed to the ceiling joist and rafters. The shaft should be insulated and a vapor barrier of plastic sheeting should be stapled to the new construction. The outer layer of drywall can then be installed. With a tube style skylight the tube itself serves as the shaft so there is no need to build one.

  3. The final step is to install the skylight. Skylight installation procedures will differ from one manufacturer to another, so itís important to review all instructions before beginning and follow the steps precisely. Most importantly, be sure to follow all instructions for installing the flashing on the roof and seal as directed to avoid future leaks.

Online contributing editor for, Jilda Peterson has extensive design experience, using abstract metal wall hangings and contemporary metal wall art.

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