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Skylights and Roofing Pros and Cons

Breaking Down the Benefits and Considerations

7 min
Flat gray skylight on a gray asphalt shingle roof with blue sky in the upper right

A skylight is a beautiful part of any roof and a great addition of natural light for any room to enjoy a bit of sunshine or even stare at the stars.

As a top roofing company in Colorado, we have installed many skylights for homeowners. We are frequently asked whether installing a skylight will affect a roof replacement.

Selecting the right skylight can be overwhelming with so many different types, styles, and even installation methods. Further, skylights are available with a variety of glass types, glazings, covers, and shades.

Let’s first discuss a few skylight pros & cons.

Skylight Pros and Cons

Skylights offer many advantages, making smaller rooms appear larger, making dark rooms brighter, and ventilating humid rooms. Roof skylights can also improve the design aesthetic of a room or your roof.

By contrast, skylights can also cause frustration. Lesser-quality skylights can enable UV rays exposure, which can damage furniture and flooring. All roof skylights will create some heat loss and can impact your electricity bill in the winter months. Even a correctly installed skylight may lead to condensation or a roof leak.

You can avoid or significantly reduce these issues by hiring a professional installer.

Pros of Skylights

  • Increase your home’s value – A cosmetic design improvement, like a skylight, can increase the resale value.
  • Brighten an interior space – A skylight brings natural light into a room that may otherwise be stuffy, cold, or dark. Skylights, like mirrors on a wall, can make a room feel larger and more spacious.
  • Improve your mood – Natural lighting is known to improve people’s moods and increase work productivity.
  • Improve ventilation – Vented skylight windows can welcome fresh air, which enhances cross-ventilation in stuffy rooms.
  • Reduce heating in winter months and reduce cooling in summer months – Sunlight can warm a room, and cross-ventilation can cool it down, both of which can reduce your energy costs.

Cons of Skylights

  • Nothing is leak-proof – A skylight can cause a costly leak inside your skylight shaft, which then continues into your home or building.
  • Purchase a lower quality skylight and flashing without a warranty – You may not notice a lesser quality skylight immediately after installation, but there is a potential cost to lesser priced or quality products, especially when they do not come with a warranty.
  • Poor placement for your skylight – Selecting poor placement for your skylight may allow for too much or too little light or heat during the day.
  • Hire a contractor without specific skylight installation experience
  • Install a skylight by yourself
  • Installing a skylight is not a DIY project – The cost to replace or repair a poor installation can be significant.
  • Heat loss – Lost heat through a skylight if installed incorrectly or inferior equipment which impacts your energy savings.
  • Exterior damage and shattered glass – Exterior damage can break the skylight and shatter the glass, such as a tree limb falling. We recommend our customers purchase laminated glass in case of breakage, which includes a thin film that will hold the broken glass in place instead of shattering and falling into the house.

You can avoid most issues by selecting a quality skylight and hiring a reputable skylight professional for a proper consultation and installation.

We recommend using a Low-E (or low emissivity) coated glass, which reduces the amount of heat transfer.

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Choosing the Right Type of Skylight

We recommend spending enough time researching the right type of skylight that best suits your needs and budget.

Two flat fixed skylights on an asphtalt shingle roof in Denver, Colorado

We replace skylights too As part of the roof replacement process, we will replace skylights, flashings, and many other exterior items such as windows, siding, and painting.

We’ll focus on three different types of skylights – fixed, venting (or vented), and tubular:

Fixed Skylights

Fixed skylights are windows that do not open while providing light inside your home or building. Fixed skylights are often installed in rooms with high ceilings, and because fixed skylights don’t open, they do not provide humidity control for a room.

Venting Skylights

Venting skylights (or vented skylights) may look like fixed skylights but can be opened and closed manually or by remote control. For rooms where condensation of humidity is a concern, like bathrooms or kitchens, venting skylights are an excellent choice. Of importance, venting skylights are often more expensive than fixed skylights.

Tubular Skylights

Tubular skylights are not traditional skylight windows but rather long tubes designed to capture and reflect light. Unlike other skylights, they do not provide an outside view.

Tubular skylights (or solar skylights) are most suitable for small spaces, like bathrooms, hallways, and closets, where an attic or roof is not impacted by wiring and can fit between obstructions.

Tubular skylights often have dimmers allowing you to control how much light you want inside, and may come with exhaust fans to help control moisture. Premium tubular skylights will have a filter to keep out UV light. These are an excellent choice wherever privacy is a top priority.

Skylight Installation

There are two skylight installation methods – deck-mounted and curb-mounted skylights. The difference between a deck-mounted and curb-mounted skylight is that a deck-mounted skylight sits flush with the roof (meaning the skylight frame is flashed directly into the roof) a curb-mounted skylight is positioned above the roof’s deck by a curb.

A curb-mounted skylight is considered a superior choice to prevent leaks

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends curb installation tall enough to allow for a minimum of 4 inches of vertical flashing. The curb should even be taller if the skylight is installed on a low-slope roof to allow for 8 inches of flashing. A roofing professional will have to extend the curb when using manufacturer-produced curbs that aren’t tall enough.

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Metro City Roofing is a proud member of the National Roofing Contractors Association.

We recommend that any homeowner or building owner work with a professional installer and select a quality product when installing your ceiling window.

If your skylight already leaks, please contact a professional roofing company or skylight company today.

These professionals will repair the leak and reinforce the structure as follows:

  • Use quality roofing cement to seal any gaps that affect the flashing
  • Use silicone tubing to close any holes in the window structure
  • Replace all damaged metal flashings
  • Install new high-performance weather stripping

Again, a leaking skylight may already have mold and mildew or a rotted window frame or roof structure. A professional roofer or skylight installer may recommend a new skylight replacement. Beyond the skylight, you should be prepared for drywall and painting, plus the replacement of any damaged shingles and flashing.

Skylights and Hail Damage

Damage from hail remains an ongoing challenge to skylights, no matter the advancements in glass impact resistance. Most roofers consider plexiglass skylights a poor choice for hail resistance, as plexiglass is less scratch-resistant than glass and will also break more quickly. By contrast, tempered and laminated glass resists small and medium hail quite well.

In Colorado, we can get larger hailstones, increasing the risk of hail cracking a roof skylight. When that happens, skylight repair or replacement is your only option.

If you have hail damage and file an insurance claim, the industry-standard estimating software doesn’t typically estimate the replacement costs correctly for windows and skylights. A builder grade window is very different in price than a premium window – but they’re both windows. The estimating software provides a generic amount for a window or skylight based on size and mount type. It is crucial that you do not accept what’s on your initial insurance claim estimate – and that you get a quote from a qualified skylight company and have your contractor submit as part of the supplement process.

Metro City Roofing installs Velux skylights wherever possible, the market leader in skylights. Velux is headquartered north of Copenhagen in Denmark, employing 11,500 people worldwide.

Why Choose Metro City Roofing?

Metro City Roofing is a Colorado roofing company, headquartered in Denver, CO. We specialize in hassle-free professional roofing and will treat your home like our own.

We deliver the best professional roofing services across the Denver metro area. We are proud of the excellent reputation we've earned, with outstanding customer satisfaction, one roof, and one customer at a time.

Jonathan Abramson

Jonathan Abramson

Colorado Roofing Expert, Founder of Metro City Roofing

Jonathan loves the roofing industry as his company helps individual customers to navigate the insurance claim process and get them the new roof they need after a hailstorm. He has earned numerous roofing certifications and licenses, including the distinguished All Lines Adjuster License.

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