Roof Skylights

roof skylights, skylight roof, home skylights, plastic skylights

Roof Skylights

Skylights can be one of the most striking elements you can add to your home decor, while staying very energy conscious.

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Roof Skylights - Definitions:

Are you interested in leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. If you are then you should make use of one of the abundant natural resources that is available to us - the Sun.

We can make use of this valuable resource very efficiently by capturing the Suns energy for both heating and natural lighting, and skylights give us the versatility and engineering to accomplish this.

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Skylights are referred to by many names such as roof skylights, roof windows, plastic skylights and many more. I have always referred to fixed skylights a roof skylights and operable skylights located in the roof as roof windows.

Sometimes all the technical terms creates a cloud of confusion and thus throws the consumer and the design professionals 'out of sync' because of this terminology.

So for the purposes of this article we will be narrowing our focus on roof skylights - the fixed or non-operating type.

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Roof Skylights - Master Bath Application

Roof Skylights - The Elements:

Roof Skylight Frame Materials:
Composite Wood Interior and Aluminum Exterior

Roof Skylight Glazing Materials:
Tempered Glass
Laminated Glass

Roof Skylight Applications:
Sloped Roofs
Flat Roofs

Curb-Mounted Skylights
Solarium Roofs

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Roof Skylights - Living Room Application

Roof Skylights - Flashing Systems:

Probably the #1 concern I have with skylights is the flashing system that is used with the unit. The flashing is the engineered system of waterproofing and metal that sheds water and ice away from the skylight itself.

Flashing's are quite often used in conjunction with sealants, but never rely solely on sealants to keep water out of your home as they break down over time and you will be assured of leaking problems.

If at all possible, purchase the flashing as an integral part of the skylight system. In other words, buy the flashing from the same company that manufactures the skylight itself. This will assure you that proper engineering has been completed and you will get the best water-tight fit.

Pan-Flashed Systems: These are usually part a a ganged skylight system, like the example in the photo below - that is a 4-gang skylight.

Usually with ganged skylights you get great flashing systems as they are factory welded and tested to be waterproof. You usually do not need to get a separate flashing system with ganged skylights either.

Make sure you use an experienced installer for these systems as they are quite complicated - especially the flashing, which is the most important piece of the pie.

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Roof Skylights - Kitchen Application

Low Profile Flashing: This is usually a factory produced flashing that is available from the skylight manufacturer. They make the flashing's in 1/2" increments to allow flexibility in placement of ganged skylight applications.

A word of caution with this type of system: This is not a do-it-yourself task. You should hire an experienced roofing contractor/building contractor that is very familiar with installation of these types of systems.

The Low Profile flashing for Roof Skylights are primarily used for asphalt or fiberglass shingle roofs and shake roofs. You will find that there are minor variations available for stepped flashing's and flashing's for metal roofs as well.

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Roof Skylights - Foyer Application

High Profile Roof Flashing's: These systems provide a weather tight seal for skylights or roof windows installed on roofs with concrete or Spanish tile and other high profile roofing materials. .

There are versions that address ganged skylights, single skylights and curb-mounted skylights.

Again, verify with the manufacturer that the skylight flashing's are actually supplied by them and are manufactured by them for use with their products.

Also, especially with this system, employ a builder/contractor that is familiar with these systems. If I sound a bit paranoid about this, it is for good reason.

I have had inexperienced people on the job doing these types of installations and it is an absolute nightmare. They don't understand the installation and in some cases don't even use all the parts supplied to them.

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Roof Skylights - Curb-Mounted Installation

Curb-Mounded Skylights: This type of skylight rely's of a site-build curb construction to be in place that is built by the building contractor and flashed by the roofing contractor.

The curb is raised above the roof surface between 3 and 6" and then flashed into the roofing system.

The skylight then sits of top of the curb, and hangs over the curb and flashing to complete the waterproof seal.

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Roof Skylights - Bedroom Application

Roof Skylights - Selecting Locations:

Homeowners are often faced with the decision of where to actually place skylights to get the biggest bang for the buck.

If you already have adequate perimeter windows in all of the living spaces of your home, you should then turn to the core areas of the home.

Likely candidates include interior bathrooms, master closets, hallways, dens and other windowless rooms, or rooms with few windows.

Adding skylights to these types of rooms enhances the quality of the space immensely.

Additionally, supplemental skylight placement in areas like the kitchen - over work areas and islands or in living rooms/family rooms will bring even more light into a space, and is a very popular option.

One more option is to place skylights as the roof glass option for a sun room. You can line the room with windows and place the skylights in the roof structure and have a very impressive sunroom.

Roof Skylights - What We Recommend:

After years of specifying skylights, both commercially and residentially, I have found that one of the best engineered systems on the market is made by Velux.

Velux has great products, including composite wood and aluminum units, a great variety of manufactured flashing's and installation types and a great warranty.

Roof Skylights - Tax Credits:

Energy Tax Credits: Skylights fall under the Federal Tax Credit with the following guidelines:

30% of the cost (not including installation/labor costs), up to $1,500 can be claimed.

You do not have to replace all the windows/doors/skylights in your home to qualify. And it doesn't need to be a replacement either - installing a new window where there wasn't one previously (like in an addition) would qualify.

From June 1, 2009 - December 31, 2010 windows (and doors and skylights) must have a U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) less than or equal to 0.30.

Go to the page Energy Tax Credits for more information.