What You Need to Know Before Installing Skylights

Kathleen Maxwell | July 28, 2023

A view through a skylight to cloudy sky.

Installing skylights is a great way to open up a commercial building and provide natural light. While they can add beauty and visual interest, there are several important things to consider before getting any kind of roof penetration. Before you add skylights to an existing commercial building or plan on integrating skylights into the design of a new building, you’ll need to know what installation entails. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about commercial skylight installation to help you decide if skylights are right for your building.

Do roofers install skylights?

Only a licensed professional can install a standard skylight on a commercial building. If you’re considering adding a skylight, your commercial roofing partner should be your first phone call. A roofing professional can answer questions you may have about skylight framing and framing detail. Sometimes a structural engineer may need to be involved in the design phase. Typically, a roofing contractor can install the skylight and can be invaluable in properly flashing it into the roofing system.

What are the benefits of a skylight?

Installing skylights gives your building more natural lighting, reducing the need for electric lights indoors. Skylights can also add interesting architectural flair to what might otherwise be an unexciting interior. Additionally, many eco-conscious, LEED-certified, or other green buildings use skylights to help provide passive solar heating and reduce electricity needs.

What common problems occur with skylights?

Any rooftop penetration can be a potential leak source and maintenance item. Skylights may crack, especially due to storm damage, and replacing the dome may be necessary. The curb flashing on a skylight may also become loose over time, resulting in a leak. Like all windows, skylights can allow heat to escape or enter into a building. This can be a common issue, especially with poorly installed skylights. As a result, it’s important to make sure that your skylights are well-insulated. Roofers can also install remote skylight shades. On hot days, a building’s ambient temperature can be maintained through the use of these shades.

Skylights also have unique maintenance considerations. Because skylight installation requires penetrating the roof membrane, a roofer must make sure it is well sealed so that moisture does not intrude into the rest of the roof.

How long does skylight installation take, and do I need a permit?

Most municipalities require a permit for skylight installation, especially for large commercial buildings. Your roofer will be able to tell you if a permit is required for your project. Installing skylights requires good weather in the forecast since the interior of the building will be exposed to the elements during installation. The length of time needed for installation varies depending on the size and number of skylights. You can estimate one half-day or full-day per skylight if they are being added to an existing building. In many cases, buildings can remain open and functional while a skylight is being installed.

If you’re ready to learn more about skylight installation, our team at Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal is ready to answer your questions. Our roofing experts have experience installing skylights and all roof penetrations. Contact us today to get started.

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