Skylights 101: Construction

Skylights are a great way to brighten and enhance the architectural appeal of your home as well as potentially improve its overall value. Depending on the type of skylight you have installed, they can also offer extra ventilation for rooms prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Many homes in Arizona feature skylights, but most homeowners don't know much about their construction.

We think it is beneficial for homeowners to have a deeper understanding of their skylights. Knowing the parts of your skylight and how they are installed in your roof can help you keep your skylights well-maintained. Additionally, the more you know about how your skylights work, the better you can respond to repair issues when they arise.

Keep reading to learn some helpful skylight basics.

The Parts of a Skylight

There are a few different types of skylights: fixed, vented, and tubular. Fixed skylights what most people think of when they think of skylights. These windows offer improved lighting but do not open. Vented skylights can be opened (either manually or electronically) to provide ventilation and airflow. Tubular skylights are a smaller type of skylight that is generally installed in smaller spaces where traditional fixed and vented skylights will not fit.

A skylight is much more than the glass you look through. The main parts of a skylight include:

  • Frame
  • Glazing
  • Sash
  • Underlayment
  • Flashing

Just as your windows are installed in a frame, so too is your skylight. Frames come in several materials, including wood and metal. The glazing is the part of the skylight that you look through and is typically made of glass (though there are alternative materials available). The glazing may be single, double, triple-paned, and coated for UV protection like a traditional window. The glazing is held in place with the skylight sash, a metal or resin structure installed in the frame. Once the sash and glazing are installed in the frame, underlayment and flashing are installed around the frame and on top of the adjacent roof shingles. The flashing and underlayment are important in making the skylight weatherproof.

Types of Skylight Installation

There are two main skylight installation methods: deck-mounted and curb-mounted. Deck-mounted skylights are installed directly into the decking of your roof. Skylights that are deck-mounted are relatively easy to install, but they only come in a limited range of sizes. Curb-mounted skylights are installed in a curb that is then attached to the roof. Because they are not directly installed in the roof, curb-mounted skylights tend to have fewer issues with leaks. However, curb-mounted skylights can be more expensive than deck-mounted models.

Be on the Lookout for Skylight Leaks

One of the most common skylight issues homeowners deal with is leaking. Several conditions can lead to a leaking skylight, including improper installation and damage to flashing and seals. It is a good idea for all homeowners to be aware of the signs of a skylight leak.

Common signs of a leak include:

  • Condensation on the skylight
  • Discolored sealant
  • Water staining around the skylight
  • Visible cracks in the skylight

Leaky skylights should not be ignored. They can lead to significant damage to your roof and home and may cause mold and mildew to grow. If you are worried about a leak in your skylight, you should reach out to a professional roofer experienced in skylight repairs.

For more information on how to deal with skylight leaks, review our blog here.