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Types of Skylights to Brighten Your Home

By Karen L Edwards

October 04, 2022

A country kitchen with skylights

Daylighting your home using skylights is an environmentally friendly solution that both brightens and beautifies your home's interior while also reducing reliance on electricity. And the good news is that there are many different types to choose from that will light up any room. However, when thinking about adding skylights to your home, it's important to know about the different styles and features available — and the primary issues to take into consideration — before making your final decision.

Different Types of Skylights

There are three main types of skylights: fixed, ventilating, and tubular.

  • Fixed skylights won't open; they simply provide light from above, along with a view of the outdoors. Some fixed skylights offer the option of built-in blinds so you can control the amount of light that is entering the room.
  • Ventilating skylights open to allow fresh air to enter or stale, hot air to escape. Also known as roof windows, some are manually opened and closed, while other models can be remote-controlled.
  • Tubular skylights are ideal for smaller spaces such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. They don't take up a lot of space on the ceiling, and their tunnel-like shape guides light from the roof opening down into the room.

Today's skylights are more than just windows in the roof. Manufacturers have incorporated technologies that make them perform better than ever and deliver conveniences that will make you wonder why you didn't install them sooner. Most feature low-E glass that reduces heat transfer and protects your family and belongings from potentially harmful UV rays. They are also hail-resistant for peace of mind during storms.

What to Consider Before Installing a Skylight

Age of Your Roof

The ideal time to install skylights is when you are replacing your roof. With the old roof removed and the roof deck exposed, it's easy to cut the holes required to install the skylight and ensure they are properly flashed and watertight. Installing skylights in an existing roof can risk damage to shingles, and the repairs and flashings required may detract from the overall aesthetic and curb appeal of your home.

Stick-Built or Truss-Framed?

It's important to consider whether your home has a stick-built roof or a truss-framed roof. Stick-built roof frames tend to have wider spaces between the rafters, which allow more space for skylights. Many newer homes rely on truss-framed roofs that are built off-site and hoisted into place during construction. These truss-framed roofs often have smaller spaces between rafters and are not engineered to be cut after the installation. Doing so may jeopardize the structural integrity of the roof, which is why it is critical to rely on a professional to assess and perform an installation.

Roof Slope

Steep-slope roofs are well-suited to skylights, since the angle allows for effective water runoff. While you can install skylights on lower-sloped or flat roofs, you may need to meet extra considerations for ensuring they are watertight, such as using a curb-mounted style that can be properly flashed.

Ceiling Style

Whether your ceiling is vaulted or flat can make a difference in the type of skylight that is best suited for your space. With a flat ceiling, the light must travel farther to reach the room, and interior improvements including drywall and painting will likely be needed during installation. Vaulted ceilings typically align with the slope of the roof and require less interior work with their installation.

Use a Qualified Installer

After learning about the different types of skylights and what to consider before choosing to install them, it's important to find a professional contractor who can ensure that your skylights meet your expectations and brighten your home for years to come. This is why it's imperative that you choose a roofing contractor who understands skylights and how to properly install them. Start your search by contacting a qualified GAF-certified roofing contractor* in your area.


*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

About the Author

Karen L. Edwards is a freelance writer for the construction industry and has a passion for roofing, having worked in the industry for 20 years.

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GAF is expanding its footprint with new manufacturing facilities, increasing its plant network to over 30 locations nationwide.Summer 2024 is kicking off with the construction of a 275,000-square-foot residential shingle plant in Newton, Kansas—the first GAF location in the state. In Peru, Illinois, the new polyiso plant recently sent out its first shipment of GAF EnergyGuard™ Polyiso Insulation, the new TPO plant in Valdosta, Georgia, is gearing up to begin production this year, and in Avon Lake, Ohio GAF partnered with a third-party plant to support the research, development, and production of silicone products.New state-of-the-art facilities such as these allow GAF to continue innovating and "meet growing customer demand for our market-leading roofing product," says GAF CEO John Altmeyer. These developments also offer benefits to the surrounding areas. For instance, regional plants can help shorten product haul times (benefiting customers and the environment) as well as bolster local economies and support the communities where GAF employees live and work.Expansion to Help Meet Increasing Customer DemandThe Newton, Peru, and Valdosta plants will help meet ever-growing residential and commercial market demand, enhance best-in-class GAF service to customers, and help strengthen the overall construction industry by increasing manufacturing capacity.Currently, one in four US homes is protected by a GAF roof. To better meet residential demand, the GAF shingle plant in Newton will produce Timberline HDZ®—America's best-selling roof shingle—and Timberline® AS II shingles. Timberline HDZ® offers homeowners a high-definition look with patented GAF features like the StrikeZone™ nailing area, GAF Time-Release algae protection, and LayerLock™ Technology. For hail-prone markets, the Timberline® AS II is a UL2218, Class 4 impact resistant shingle that can also help protect roofs from wind, and algae discoloration.To better meet commercial and residential demand, the GAF plant in Valdosta, Georgia will manufacture TPO, one the most popular products for low-slope roofs. Nearly 2 billion square feet of TPO are installed annually, making up over 50% of single-ply roofs installed today.Meanwhile, the plant in Peru is helping to better serve commercial customers by manufacturing a full line of EnergyGuard™ Polyiso Insulation and EnergyGuard™ NH Polyiso Insulation. Additionally, the plant will soon offer new composite polyiso insulation boards. Polyiso Insulation is used on more than 70% new and retrofit commercial buildings, and is the highest R value per inch of any board stock insulationThe Opportunity for Economic and Social BenefitsGAF expansions can generate local, good-paying jobs and empower surrounding areas through meaningful community involvement. These benefits have been seen in the locations where GAF currently manages its workforce of 4,800, and the organization hopes to continue its progress. GAF actively invests in community resilience through its Community Matters initiatives. Community grants, in-kind donations, and hands-on support through employee volunteer efforts allow GAF Community Matters to build meaningful area relationships and help address the area's unique needs.Another benefit of adding manufacturing plants closer to end markets is the potential to reduce operational carbon emissions. 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By Authors Annie Crawford

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A house with a damaged roof.
Your Home

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A house's roof edge trim, or soffits and fascia.
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By Authors Mark Soto

June 25, 2024

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