How to Install Skylights in Your Attic

Skylight installation.

Adding a skylight, or two, to an attic space is a great way to add light and dimension to the room. Typically, the top floor of the house is for storage and dust, but they are an easy renovation for usable space. Skylights make the darkened and low height areas of an attic seem bright and airy. With direct roof access, the installation is more practical, and therefore less expensive, than any other room in the house, as well. Adding skylights to your attic increases the usability of that area and could be the first step toward your attic renovation. If your attic is already renovated, adding skylights could be the perfect finishing touch.

Materials and Cost

Materials for a skylight are fairly basic, especially in the attic. Skylights are now sold as kits that usually include the necessary flashing materials as well. These range in price from $150-500 for a 2 x 4 ft sized skylight.

However, these kits are for use with asphalt shingles. If the roofing materials are metal or tile, it will require special flashing. These kits cost about 20-30 percent more and are best installed by a professional.

Skylights that are larger in size or that have special features such as crank or remote control blinds will be more costly. Also, if the house has a truss roof, installing a larger sky light will necessitate reframing of the trusses. This can add at least $1,000 to the cost because a structural engineer will be necessary.

If the attic has a ceiling below the roof, use a chase to seal in that gap. This is usually done by a professional framer and will increase the price of the project by about $1,500.

If the homeowner is able to tackle it on their own, they will need framing materials, drywall, tape, mud, and plaster. Do not forget to add in a little extra for finishing and matching the paint on the current ceiling.

Consider Location

Adding a skylight to the attic is much easier than any other level in the home because it does not require any tubing and needs little or no chase. Yet, it takes all the same preparation. Choose a location that will provide optimal light into the room and will still place the skylight between trusses.

If the trusses are not exposed, use a stud finder to mark their placement for accurate removal of ceiling pieces. A professional is highly recommended for any installation that will lead to a removal of any trusses and/or reframing.

Choose the Right Kit

Purchase a skylight kit that matches the homeowner's preferences, slope/texture of the roof, and is the appropriate size. Before removing any of the existing ceiling or roof, review the kit's installation instructions. They are specific for each manufacturer and model. This step will prevent any unnecessary obstacles or unintended costs.

Follow Directions

Install the skylight according to the model specifications. Install the flashing from the roof of the home, and be sure not to attempt this step of the project alone. Finish the interior installation process last and check all seals before tackling any paint and plaster touch ups.

Perform a Water Test

Test the seals from the exterior using a garden hose and sprayer. Depending on the type of flashing and seals used, the homeowner may need to wait a day or two before using a water test to be sure all epoxies have set.

Clean Up

The last step will be to clean the glass and touch up the interior plaster and paint. Of course, do not forget to vacuum up all that drywall dust.