How to Install a Skylight and Maximize Natural Light

How to Install a Skylight?

To install a skylight, start by cutting and framing the opening according to the manufacturer’s instructions and building codes.

If the skylight is above an attic, install header joists perpendicular to the rest of the joists.

Next, cut back the roofing shingles about 3 inches from the opening on all four sides using a utility knife and straightedge.

Attach the skylight to the roof using nails or screws.

Slip strips of roofing paper under the shingles, overlapping them for proper water shedding.

Then, install bottom and step flashing by driving nails horizontally into the skylight and slipping individual pieces of step flashing under the shingles.

Install solid flashing pieces onto the skylight to prevent water from entering between the step flashing and the skylight.

Finally, attach the top piece of flashing (head flashing) by slipping it under the roofing and attaching it to the skylight.

Key Points:

  • Cut and frame the opening according to instructions and codes
  • Install header joists above the attic if necessary
  • Cut back roofing shingles around the opening
  • Attach skylight to roof using nails or screws
  • Place roofing paper underneath shingles for water shedding
  • Install flashing to prevent water entry and attach head flashing on top


Did You Know?

1. The concept of skylights dates back to ancient Rome, where domed glass structures called “oculi” were used in buildings to allow natural light to enter.

2. Skylights were initially seen as a symbol of luxury during the Renaissance era, as they were primarily installed in grand palaces and cathedrals to showcase wealth and opulence.

3. The largest skylight in the world is located in Dubai, UAE, at the Dubai Mall. Spanning an impressive area of 35,000 square feet, it is equivalent to the size of six Olympic swimming pools.

4. In the mid-19th century, French artist Edgar Degas became captivated by the unique lighting effects created by skylights. He incorporated these atmospheric qualities in many of his famous paintings, such as “The Dance Class.”

5. The first operational solar-powered skylight was invented in Sweden by Swedish engineer, Gunnar Wangler, in 1961. This innovation utilized solar energy to open and close the skylight, offering improved control over light intake and ventilation.

Cutting And Framing The Opening

When it comes to installing a skylight, the first and most crucial step is cutting and framing the opening according to the manufacturer’s specifications and building codes. This ensures a proper fit and secure installation.

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Start by carefully measuring the skylight’s dimensions and marking the outline of the opening on the roof. Use a saw or reciprocating saw to carefully cut through the roof rafters and sheathing following the marked outline. Take caution to avoid any electrical wiring or plumbing pipes that may be hidden in the area.

Once the opening is cut, it’s essential to frame it properly using additional roof rafters and support beams. These additional structural elements ensure that the skylight is properly supported and installed securely.

Be sure to consult the skylight manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes to determine the necessary size and type of framing materials to use. This will help create a stable and safe opening for the skylight installation.

Installing Header Joists In The Attic

If the skylight is located above an attic, it’s necessary to install header joists perpendicular to the rest of the joists. Header joists provide additional support and stability for the skylight.

To install the header joists, follow these steps:

  • Measure the width of the skylight.
  • Cut two pieces of lumber to the appropriate length.
  • Secure these pieces perpendicular to the existing joists using screws or nails.

This step ensures that the skylight is adequately supported and prevents any structural issues in the future.

Cutting Back Roofing Shingles

Once the opening is framed, it’s time to prepare the roof for the skylight installation. Begin by cutting back the roofing shingles about 3 inches from the opening on all four sides. This step ensures that the skylight will fit snugly into the roof and allows for proper waterproofing.

To cut the shingles, use a utility knife and a straightedge to create clean and precise cuts. Take care not to damage any underlying layers or roofing materials while cutting. This process may take some time, but it is essential to ensure a tight and secure fit for the skylight.

By cutting back the shingles, you create a clean surface for attaching the skylight and enable easy integration with the surrounding roofing materials.

  • Cut back the roofing shingles about 3 inches from the skylight opening on all four sides
  • Use a utility knife and a straightedge for clean and precise cuts
  • Take care not to damage underlying layers or roofing materials
  • Ensure a tight and secure fit for the skylight
  • Enable easy integration with the surrounding roofing materials.

Attaching The Skylight To The Roof

Now that the opening is prepared and the roofing shingles are cut back, it’s time to attach the skylight to the roof. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper attachment.

Using nails or screws, secure the skylight into place, ensuring that it is centered within the framed opening. Be sure to use the recommended fasteners provided by the skylight manufacturer. These fasteners are specifically designed to hold the skylight securely and withstand weather elements.

Take care when attaching the skylight to avoid over-tightening the screws or nails, which may damage the skylight or the roof itself. It’s essential to find the right balance between a secure attachment and avoiding damaging the materials.

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Applying Roofing Paper For Water Shedding

To ensure proper water shedding and prevent leaks, it’s crucial to apply roofing paper around the skylight opening.

Carefully slip strips of roofing paper under the roofing shingles, overlapping them at least 6 inches on all sides of the skylight. This layer of roofing paper acts as a barrier, preventing water from entering the roof and ensuring proper drainage.

Take care to align and secure the roofing paper using staples or roofing nails. This will ensure that it stays in place and provides a protective barrier against moisture.

By applying roofing paper, you add an extra layer of protection to your skylight installation, ensuring it remains watertight and prevents any potential water damage.

  • Ensure proper water shedding and prevent leaks by applying roofing paper around the skylight opening.
  • Slip strips of roofing paper under the roofing shingles, overlapping them at least 6 inches on all sides of the skylight.
  • Align and secure the roofing paper using staples or roofing nails.
  • Add an extra layer of protection to your skylight installation by applying roofing paper.

Installing Bottom And Step Flashing

Proper flashing is essential for preventing water infiltration around the skylight. Flashing directs water away from vulnerable areas, ensuring the integrity of the installation.

Begin by installing bottom flashing. Drive nails horizontally into the sides of the skylight frame, ensuring they are properly secured. Slip individual pieces of step flashing under the roofing shingles on each side of the skylight, ensuring they overlap to create a continuous barrier against water penetration.

Next, install solid flashing pieces onto the skylight itself. These solid flashing pieces are crucial for preventing water from entering between the step flashing and the skylight, which could cause leaks.

Finally, attach the top piece of flashing, known as head flashing. Slip it under the roofing and attach it securely to the skylight, forming a watertight seal.

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Proper installation of flashing is vital to minimize the risk of leaks and water damage. Take care to follow the skylight manufacturer’s instructions and consult local building codes to ensure the correct installation of flashing materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install a skylight myself?

Installing a skylight yourself can be a feasible option if you possess basic home improvement skills and have access to the required materials. However, it is crucial to ensure the structural integrity of the installation area. Prior to proceeding with the installation, carefully inspect the designated area to guarantee its soundness and stability. Taking these precautions will help ensure a successful and safe DIY skylight installation.

How should skylights be installed?

When it comes to installing skylights, it is crucial to follow a meticulous process. Firstly, ensure that the roof shingles are carefully removed to provide access for the installation. After this, a precise hole should be cut into the roof, keeping in mind the necessary measurements for the skylight. The framing may need to be modified to fit the skylight properly. Once the framing is adjusted, the flashing and skylight can be installed securely. Lastly, it is essential to patch up any open areas in the roof and the ceiling, both above and below the skylight, to ensure a seamless finish. This meticulous installation process guarantees a well-installed skylight that will bring natural light into the space.

Is it a good idea to put in skylight?

Installing a skylight can be a great idea as it offers several benefits in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact. During colder months, skylights help increase the heat gain within a space, reducing the need for heating and ultimately lowering energy consumption. This not only saves money on electric bills but also contributes positively to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, skylights can reduce the need for artificial lighting during the warmer months, further decreasing electricity use and supporting sustainability efforts. Overall, incorporating a skylight into your space allows for a more eco-friendly and cost-effective approach to lighting and heating.

Is skylight expensive?

Skylights can be a substantial investment, with prices ranging from $1,019 to $3,000 for materials and installation. The overall cost is influenced by factors such as the size, shape, and type of skylight chosen. However, it should be noted that the national average cost for skylight installation is approximately $1,862. Considering these factors, it is important to carefully consider your budget and preferences before proceeding with a skylight installation.

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