4 min read

Things to Know Before Getting a Skylight

Things to Know Before Getting a Skylight

When you’re trying to increase the amount of light you get in your home, there are really only a couple of options that you can consider: adding windows, cutting down some trees, or adding a skylight.

Adding windows is a particularly difficult process, and depending on how your home is constructed, you may not even be able to do it. Cutting down trees can also be problematic, as you might want to keep that greenery around your home, even if it means less light.

So, what then, can you do to get some more dang light in your house? Well, an option many homeowners opt for, is to add skylights into their roof! Now, it’s still not super easy, but it can be a much more simple process than having a tree cut down, or a window put in, especially if you have it done during a roof replacement.

If a skylight is an option that you’re considering, there are a couple of questions you should consider before springing for one.

In this blog, we’re going to go over some of those questions, including:

Alright, let’s get started!

Do Skylights Leak?

Over time, skylights have developed a pretty bad rap for cracking, leaking, and causing all sorts of damage and mayhem. That reputation comes from a good bit of truth, as putting a skylight in your roof does open you up to a bit more risk of those things occurring. It involves cutting a hole through the roof, which can end up really badly if it's not done right.

And that right there is the key.

improperly installed skylight

Skylights that have leaks and a lot of other issues occurring are usually done by an installer who is either an inexperienced roofer, or one who doesn’t perform a lot of skylight installations.

So to answer the question at the top of this section: skylights will leak if they are not installed correctly, and to the manufacturers specifications.

Skylights won’t leak on their own unless something is wrong with them or the installation. That being said, you should be picky when looking at contractors to install your skylight. If it isn’t installed correctly, and does leak, there is a chance that it will cause a lot of water damage to your roof decking, which is an expensive repair.

When Should You Replace a Skylight?

Old Skylight_WebP

If you were to get a skylight installed correctly by someone that is experienced and knowledgeable, how long can you expect it to last?

This will depend on the material, and brand of skylight, but they should last between 10 and 30 years. Skylights made of more durable glass, will last 20-30 years when installed correctly, while those constructed of acrylic will likely only get around a decade of life.

So with that information, you should probably begin thinking about a skylight replacement a few years before its advertised life runs up, as that is typically when trouble starts to occur.

Skylight during roof replacement_WebP-1One common path homeowners take is to have their skylights replaced as a part of a larger roof replacement project. It makes sense from a logistical standpoint, as to replace the skylight, you would likely already be tearing off some of the roofing material. So if the material is already off, it allows for the skylights to be swapped out far easier than if you did them separately.

The only case where it doesn’t make sense to do these projects at the same time, is if your skylights are only a few years old at the time of the roof replacement. If that is the case, you’d be tossing out perfectly good skylights, and the money you’d be saving just wouldn’t be worth it. If your skylights are getting close to that 20-year-old mark however, having them replaced with your roof is definitely an option to look into.

Who Installs & Repairs Skylights?

For the most part, you can have your skylight installed by a window company, or a roofing company. Skylights are essentially windows in the middle of your roof, so it makes sense that either could be qualified for the job.

Though I may be biased, I will say that I think using a roofing contractor for the work is going to be a better option than using a window company. Roofing companies have lots of experience working on roofs (we do it every day), and also have the knowledge of how to properly take off and replace the shingles around the skylight area.

What are the Types of Skylights?

Though there are additional subcategories of skylights out there, the two primary categories of skylights are fixed, and vented. Fixed skylights are sheets of glass that don’t open up, and only let light into your home, instead of letting air in and out. Vented skylights, on the other hand, open up to let air in and out of the roof. They can either be operated by a button or remote if they are powered by electricity, or if not, may be manually pushed open.

skylights after install_WebP-1

Underneath the vented category, you can get an electric powered skylight that is wired into your home, or even a skylight that has a solar battery attached to it. That one collects sunlight that hits that area of your roof, turns it into energy that can be used to open and close the skylight when you press a button. Most companies also make a version that can be pushed open and latched shut like the hatch on an old-fashioned submarine.

Fixed skylights, while far more simple, also have a few different varieties, primarily based on what kind of roof they are installed on. For instance, for a flat or low slope roof, it’s more important to have a skylight with curved glass that allows for water to run off of it more easily than it would a regular, flat glass.

How Much Does a Skylight Cost?

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about skylights, I hope you’re starting to feel more knowledgeable about what it might take for your own skylight installation.

The next question you might find yourself asking is: how much does all this cost anyway?

The prices of skylights and the installation of them exist within a wide range, that is determined by a large variety of factors. These include the type, materials, and size of skylight you choose, how difficult your roof makes the installation, and the contractor you use.

For the most part you can expect to spend somewhere between $1,000 on the low end, and even up to around $6,000 for the highest priced kinds of skylights on a complex, steep roof.

If you want to read more about the factors that affect the costs of skylights, check out our blog!

On Tops Roofing has been installing, replacing, and repairing skylights in the Raleigh, NC area for over 30 years. Whatever your roofing project requires, we’ve got the tools for the job!

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