Installing a Skylight

Thinking of adding a skylight to your home? Here’s what you need to know about skylight installation

Does your kitchen feel drab and cramped during the short, dark days of winter? Is poor lighting making your child’s playroom upstairs feel more like it’s tucked away in a gloomy basement? Cheer up these areas by installing a skylight.

Image of a roof with several skylightsThese windows on the roof bring natural sunlight into the living areas of your home, creating a feeling of warmth, well-being, and brightness. This is especially true in Vancouver – during summer, you want that beautiful sunlight beaming inside every way possible with a skylight.

On average, a skylight can allow about 30 percent more sunlight into a room than windows. They may help you save big bucks on your energy bill too since you’ll be using less light. The benefits are pretty clear. But there are still a few things you should consider before putting the time and money into skylight installation.

1. How much do skylights cost?

If you’re a handyman and feel up to doing it yourself, skylights are pretty inexpensive. A decent skylight may cost only about $250 to $500, and that’s including a flashing kit to ensure against water leakage. The more features – like a remote control for shading – will cost more.

But most people will need to turn to a professional for installation. In that case, it may cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 per skylight to your total expense. Also, the flashing might prove more costly if you have tile or metal roofing, as skylights are generally intended for asphalt shingles.

2. Does my attic have a path for a skylight?

You might have what seems like the ideal spot in mind for your skylight, but if there are pipes, wiring, or HVAC equipment in the way, you will be disappointed. You should check it out before cutting a hole in the ceiling or just have a professional take a look.

3. What style of skylight do I want?

Skylights are generally very versatile and can suit many different environments, but it’s still a good idea to give some thought to whether it fits in with the general look and architecture of your home.

4. What is my roof pitch?

When purchasing a flashing kit, you will see that many are made for specific roof pitches, so be sure you have accurate information before attempting to install a skylight.

Read: How to Determine Roof Pitch

5. What’s the spacing like with your trusses?

If your roof is framed with trusses, you will need to know how far apart they are in order to know what size skylight can be accommodated. Most trusses allow for two-foot-wide skylights. You can cut a truss if you want to go with something wider, but then you should consult with a structural engineer. The estimated dollar figures are just to give you a rough idea of what to expect. If you are interested in having a skylight installed in your home, give us a call and we will be happy to give you a cost estimate tailored to your home.

If at any point you have any questions about skylights, you can call Warner Roofing at (360) 694-0249 and we’ll be happy to help.

A skylight installed in a home kitchen

The 5 Big Benefits of Skylights

Balanced light: Skylights bring natural light into your home all year long. They bring balance to the light in any room and reduce harsh glare. They make your living space more open and inviting. This helps during the long summer days in Oregon and Washington.

Health and mood: Sunlight triggers the cues your brain and eyes need to manage your circadian rhythms, which helps keep you healthy, happy, and productive.

Save energy and money: You use less energy for artificial light when you rely more on natural light. This is good for the environment. Improved energy efficiency also means your utility bills are lower.

Better ventilation: Skylights draw warm air up to vent through the skylight. This cools a room and brings in the fresh air.

More privacy: Skylights make it possible to bring more light into a bathroom, or any room, without sacrificing privacy.

How to Repair a Skylight Leak

A skylight is a good investment as they tend to last a long time. However, you might run into an issue here or there that needs fixing, such as a leak. Pay close attention to the corners of the skylight.

If a skylight leak is minor, it is not difficult to repair and you can do it yourself. If the issue lies with the roof opening or the window, then it could be part of a larger problem that may need professional repair. We’ll explain the difference as well as some causes for leaks and ways to repair them.

Finding the Leak

Some leaks aren’t actually leaks, but condensation from cold temperatures within the home (this is common during winters and rainy seasons in Vancouver). Other times it’s from a leak in the roof, not the actual skylight. The best way to find out is to do some troubleshooting:

  • Clean debris around the skylight: A skylight may leak if water can’t drain from the roof. This happens when leaves, fir needles, and other debris prevents runoff and water pools, which seep under the shingles. Snow and ice may also create standing water. When the snow and ice begin to melt, puddles form and can drain through the shingles or flashing.
  • Check the stripping: Are there any gaps? This happens during an improper installation. Weatherstripping and seals between roof shingles and flashing also wear out over time, which can let water through.
  • Examine shingles or flashing: Damage to the roof or step flashing can cause the sides of the skylight to leak. The damage may not be adjacent to the window. A leak near a vent flashing due to roofing nails or a missing or broken shingle above the roof window allows water to penetrate the roof and travel to the skylight. This type of damage can become extensive if it’s not promptly repaired.

If you still can’t find the source, you can try running a garden hose over the area and seeing where water seeps through.

Repairing the Skylight

A leak can be repaired in various ways. Here are the four most common practices:

  • Seal gaps in the flashing with roofing cement
  • Seal holes or leaks in skylight lens with 100% silicone tubing
  • Replace the metal flashing entirely
  • Install new weather stripping

Sometimes, these repairs may not be enough. If a skylight has been leaking for some time, there could be water damage such as mold, mildew, or rot. Sometimes a leak can’t be repaired and the window must be replaced. New flashing and shingles may also need to be installed.

Professional Skylight Installation in Washington State

At Warner Roofing, we have years of experience with all types of roofing-related work, specifically with skylight installation, repair and replacement. That’s why we’re among the most trusted roofing companies in Vancouver, WA.

Interested in a new skylight? Does your current one need repair? Request a free estimate online or call us at (360) 694-0249 today.

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