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Can I install skylights in a room that has a flat ceiling with attic space over it?

Learn about adding skylights to rooms with flat ceilings.

Living room blue sofa yellow pillows skylights stone fireplace

Worried your flat ceiling will prevent you from achieving your skylight dreams? Fear not: It’s totally possible to add skylights to a room with a flat ceiling that has unfinished attic space over it. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about adding skylights in a flat ceiling room.

The best way to explore adding skylights to your home is to do a virtual consultation with a VELUX daylight designer, who can make product recommendations and even refer you to an installer in your area. The installer will do a quick in-home consultation to verify skylight size and placement.

What does a skylight installer do during a home consultation?

The installer will look at the outside and the inside of your roof to see how it is constructed and whether there are any obstructions in your attic that would affect where skylights can be installed.

Attic obstructions can include HVAC units, ductwork, bathroom fans, plumbing vents, electrical wires and natural gas lines. Attic obstructions don’t mean that skylights are an impossibility. It means the skylight location may need to be adjusted or the obstruction moved. Things like ductwork, bathroom fans, electrical wires and ceiling light fixtures are easily relocated to accommodate skylights. If obstructions cannot be moved and the skylight can’t be repositioned to avoid them, your installer may suggest adding natural light with a Sun Tunnel skylight.

This photo shows an example of attic obstructions.

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The vast majority of flat ceiling rooms are able to accommodate skylights to brighten the room below.

What happens during a flat ceiling skylight installation?

There are two main components to a skylight install: the rooftop and the interior ceiling. Installation, which should be completed by a professional installer, can take between half a day and three days depending on variables such as weather, roof style and ceiling style.

For the roof, the installer measures and cuts the hole, and fastens the skylight to the roof with the three layers of protection that are part of the VELUX No Leak Skylight installation. The interior portion of the installation includes drywall and painting. Installers make every effort to protect your home’s interior from dust and other installation debris by laying drop cloths in the work area. Often, they will construct a curtain of plastic sheeting around the space in your ceiling where the skylight will be installed to contain dust.

Flat ceilings require more drywall work than vaulted ceilings, but the ultimate result is still beautiful, natural light. If you have a flat ceiling, your installer will use drywall to build a light shaft, also called a lightwell, from the skylight to the ceiling, directing the daylight into the room. In flat ceiling rooms, installers will often flare the light shaft by angling the sides to allow daylight to spill further into the room.

The light shaft in the photo below is flared on all four sides, allowing natural light not only to fill the small bathroom, but also help the room feel bigger. Read more about this installation and get all the details about the new bathroom design.

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Next, the light well is finished with drywall mud, sanded and painted to match the surrounding ceiling area. From making the room feel larger to giving your overall design a natural light boost, here are four examples of skylights transforming rooms with flat ceilings.

Skylights make a small room feel bigger

This family in New Jersey transformed their small living room by installing two Solar Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights. The couple says the room benefits from both the light and the added height, allowing them to place the couch across from the television without the room feeling closed off.

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Add natural light to make colors pop

Kelly Mindell, the blogger behind Studio DIY, chose an unexpected shade of pink for her kitchen, which she says was previously the darkest room in her home. Vaulting the ceiling could have been expensive and overwhelming for the relatively small space. Adding skylights helped her gain the bright, color-illuminating benefits of natural light. The skylights can be opened to release cooking odors or shaded with room darkening blinds, both controlled from a smartphone app.

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Photo credit: Jeff Mindell

Adding skylights to small spaces

When Laura Tusken, the designer behind Inspiration for Moms blog, added a skylight to her small, hallway bathroom, which has a flat ceiling, the installer relocated the bathroom fan into a wall of the light shaft. Because the bathroom was windowless, the skylight added an abundance of natural light, and it also opens to create air flow.

See the location of the bathroom fan in the wall of the skylight’s light shaft in the photo below.

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Make a statement with architectural additions

Spice up a flat ceiling skylight installation by incorporating architectural details in the light shaft, such as exposing the trusses or rafters as stylist Emily Henderson did in her Portland home bedroom. The wider opening means more light can spill into the room and the exposed details give the sense of a larger, more visually interesting space. While Henderson said the original intention was to paint the rafters white, she ultimately left it in natural wood to bring more warmth to the space.

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Ready to learn more about adding skylights to your home? Schedule a virtual design consultation with a VELUX daylight designer.

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