Skylights are in many ways your natural gateway to energy efficient lighting. Moreover, beyond the scope of just saving energy, skylights also provide that much needed volume (and visual) enhancing ambiance to your dark and dank room. In view of all of these advantages, one might think of installing a skylight as a labor intensive enterprise, or at least a high cost job. However, quite contrary to all these notions, you can actually contrive a DIY project for your room’s very own skylight. Yes, of course the costs may vary according to your room’s structural state, but more importantly; there are some crucial factors one needs to know before embarking upon this DIY venture. So, without further ado, let us briefly discuss about the considerations and methods on how to install a skylight in your home.
1. Things to make sure before deciding to install a skylight
According to moderate estimates, a skylight can increase up to 30 percent of light induction in your room, and that too by cutting on other energy intensive factors like fuel and electricity. However, before jumping on the ‘sustainable’ bandwagon you should firstly make sure that your room has adequate ventilation. If not, then there are venting skylights available (though practically they can sometimes be difficult to use as proper ventilators). Related to this point, you should also make sure that your attic’s HVAC or plumbing does not come in the way of the designated skylight area.
Secondly, you should consider the structural system of your roof; like is it trussed or not? Now if a truss has to be sacrificed to make room for the installation, you should take the services of a structural engineer for alternate framing (whose charges can run up to $500).
Thirdly, and finally, you should make a rough estimate of the cost of the project. In this regard, a good quality skylight frame (4 ft x 2 ft) and flashing kit costs between $200 to $500. Other installation costs depend upon the materials and method, which we will discuss about in the next points.
2. Materials needed for installing a skylight
In the previous point, we mentioned that most of the cost of installing a skylight depends upon the materials you would use for the project. In this regard, we have concocted a basic list of materials that should cover most of the installation processes.
1) First, we obviously need a skylight. Now this can be obtained for a price (ranging from $200 to $500, as we mentioned before) from hardware stores, or there is a more cost effective option for the enterprising among us. This bolder option entails salvaging an old window from your neighborhood dump or even from demolishing companies. With this, of course the danger remains of potentially weakened frames.
2) We will need header joists for framing the hole (for the skylight) that is to be made in the roof.
As an alternate, boards with various dimensions can be used as support for the skylight frame. For example, you will need the window support 1-by-4-inch board, accordingly cut to length of your window plus 2 inches. Along side, you will also need 2-by-6-inch board (cut to length) for casings and 1-by-2-inch board for casing supports.
3) Fixing materials like common nails and staples will be needed for fixing the skylight along the hole made in the roof.
4) If you want to take the cheaper route, a piece of plastic is required which would ideally extend to 10 inches beyond the window’s length. This plastic would serve as the second ‘line of defense’ from various factors like percolating dampness and dirt. Now, as can be understood from its function, the waterproofing application of plastic can also be substituted by hardy roofing papers. In this regard, we should mention that roofing papers made from kraft papers allow for lighter weight yet greater strength than the conventional asphalt smeared felts.
5) Laths (four pieces would normally do) and roofing tar are needed for securing the plastic component or roofing paper along the frame.
6) Flashing components are needed to prevent passage of water into joints and angles.
7) Finally, the tools required for the whole process should be limited to a saw, a hammer, a flat pry bar, a square and marker and lastly, of course a ladder.
3. Method for installing the skylight in your room
1) You will need to choose the area in your roof where you would like to put up your skylight. Once you have designated the area, you will have to remove the roofing components from that zone and then cut a hole according to the dimensions of the sky window. For the hole you can either use the manual saw or even the chainsaw (if the notion of balancing on the ladder and then cutting through roof insulation and asphalt does not entice you one bit).
2) As for framing, you can install header joists to the ceiling joists in a pretty much perpendicular manner. The external roof shingles should also be cut by at least 3-inches to make room for the frame.
The alternate board method entails the usage of the correctly cut boards to be framed under the edges of the hole. These frames would serve as window casings.
3) Then you need to set the skylight window in its pre-determined place along the framed hole. You can fix the skylight to the roof by using nails and staples.
4) Now when the skylight is fixed in its place, you need cut strips of roofing paper or plastic and then place them under the shingles, along the framing (with the support of nailed laths and roofing tar) for protection against external dampness and snow. In this regard, one should start from the bottom, then work along the sides and finally work on the top facades.
5) Finally, you need to install proper flashing pieces to prevent water penetration into the skylight components. For this you need to follow the same dictum of starting from the bottom, then going along the sides and finally reaching the top.
So, after all the process are correctly followed, you will have your very own skylight catering to your interiors. And, before we sign off, we should mention that sky-lighting is particularly favorable to spatial zones like bathroom, kitchen, living rooms and areas which take up much of your electricity bills.