Skylights and Roofing in Colorado
June 01, 2020
A skylight or roof window is a beautiful part of any roof and great for any room in a home or commercial building to enjoy a bit of sunshine or even stare at the stars. As a top roofing company in Colorado, the staff at Metro City Roofing is frequently asked whether installing a skylight will affect a roof.
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 to a room or your roof.
By contrast, skylights can also cause frustration. Lesser-quality skylights can enable UV rays, which damage furniture and flooring. All roof skylights will create some heat loss and can impact your electricity bill in the winter months. And 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.
Like getting your roof replaced or installing new gutters, there are several considerations for a skylight.
Pros of Skylights
- Increase your home or building’s value. A cosmetic design improvement, like a skylight, can increase the resale value.
- Brighten an interior space with natural light that may otherwise be stuffy, cold, or dark rooms. 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. 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
Any cosmetic change to your home or commercial property can have potential disadvantages. Skylights are no exception.
As a top roofing contractor in Denver and across the Front Range, and having installed numerous skylights for homeowners, the following are some disadvantages or frustrations we recommend avoiding before installing a new skylight.
- Nothing is leak-proof. A skylight can cause a costly leak inside your skylight shaft, which then continues into your home or building.
- Purchasing lesser quality skylights and flashing without a warranty
- Selecting poor placement for your skylight, allowing for too much or too little light or heat during the day
- Hiring a contractor without specific skylight installation experience
- Installing a skylight by yourself and the cost to replace or repair a poor installation; installing a skylight is not a DIY project
- Lost heat through a skylight if installed incorrectly or inferior equipment which impacts your energy savings
- 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.
Choosing the Right Type of Skylight
We recommend spending enough time researching the right type of skylight that best suits your needs and budget.
We’ll focus on three different types of skylights – fixed, venting (or vented), and tubular.
Fixed skylights are skylights 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 (or vented skylights) may look like fixed skylights but can be opened and closed manually or by electronic 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 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.
Different Skylight Installation Methods
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.
Of note, Metro City Roofing is a proud member of the National Roofing Contractors Association.
Installing Your Skylight Correctly
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.
How Skylights Affect Your Roof
A skylight is simply a hole in your roof. At some point, even with proper sealing to prevent leaks and moisture, something is bound to penetrate. And with a hole the size of a skylight, your home or building is at risk for water damage.
Before investing in a skylight, we suggest you first consider whether a skylight might affect your roof. Beyond the many benefits of skylights, an owner must understand how these high-level window installations can impact your roofing system.
Beyond the actual damage a water leak may cause to your ceiling, walls, flooring, and furniture, once inside your home or commercial building, a water leak can quickly create mold. Mold needs little to survive and thrive – just moisture and oxygen. Mold can also create health risks for people with asthma and allergies. Even people in otherwise good health may feel flu-like symptoms from mold.
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 as 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. There is a threat of large hailstones cracking a roof skylight with the possibility of larger hailstones in Colorado. 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 Pella 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 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 Metro City Roofing?
Metro City Roofing is your hassle-free answer to professional roofing services – residential roof replacement, commercial roof replacement, restoration, and roof repair. We are hail damage and wind damage roofing experts and have perfected the insurance claim and roof restoration process. Our professional roofing services staff will settle your hail or wind insurance claim directly, including possible code-related requirements, to ensure that you receive all funds owed to you.
Metro City Roofing provides the best professional roofing services in metro Denver and across the Front Range. We install the highest-quality roofing materials and aim for your complete satisfaction at every stage of the roof replacement process. We approach every roofing project we manage like it is our own home.
We continually strive to differentiate from our competitors in the following ways:
- Licensed inspectors who inspect your roof and property with the lens of an insurance adjuster; all commercial roof inspections include an evaluation with an infrared camera
- Professional insurance claims experts who settle your hail damage or wind damage claim successfully
- Expert sales representatives who help customers select the best roof for their home or business
- Quality project managers who provide expert supervision on every roofing project
- Experienced roof installers who are certified, fully insured and committed to delivering high-quality craftsmanship
- Long-term warranties that cover roof material and quality and are backed by manufacturers