VERY FEW PEOPLE WILL DEBATE THE merits of a skylight: It brings light into a dark space, creates nice ventilation, and offers heat gain in the winter. The question, though, is whether or not intentionally cutting a hole in your roof is an archaic idea whose time has passed.
People who believe a skylight is old news are thinking about their father's skylights, says Greenwood, S.C.–based Velux America. When properly installed, today's skylights, the company says, don't leak and are highly energy efficient.
“Matched flashing systems and other improvements have done away with the No. 1 fear of people who are considering cutting a hole in a perfectly good roof,” says Joe Patrick, senior product manager at Velux.
It only makes sense for skylight manufacturers to keep up with the times, especially since consumers are interested in energy efficiency, mold, and protection against damaging weather. Manufacturers have worked hard to engineer their skylights and roof windows to address these issues.
Today, skylights are made with weather-tight frames and flashing systems to prevent moisture intrusion and they use the best glazing to avoid heating and cooling loss. Some systems incorporate hurricane-resistant laminated glass for security. And manual and motorized venting systems (with rain sensors) allow home buyers to catch cool breezes when needed.
Manufacturers have long contended that it was the installation, rather than the skylight, to blame in most leaking incidents. What is certain now is that companies have stepped up their efforts to create foolproof products.
Wayne, N.J.–based GAF has come up with the HeavenScape Premium skylight line that it says is quicker and easier to install but also reduces potential leaking problems. Notable features include a special neoprene gasket, permanently encapsulated weather stripping, and a longer bottom apron and wider side flashing. Installed properly, this skylight will perform for a long time, the company says.