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What happens when you install skylights?

Come behind the scenes of a skylight installation to see the process from the first sales call to the reveal of a sun-filled room.

If you’re considering skylights for a dark room in your home but aren’t quite sure about cutting a hole in your roof, join us behind the scenes to see how one homeowner added a VELUX skylight with remote-controlled shades to her work-from-home office.

What happens during the first skylight consultation in your home?

Most skylight installation companies will visit your home to create a cost estimate for you. During this visit, the salesperson will need to see the room where you want to install skylights and access the attic space above it to see how the roof is framed.

A skylight salesman greets at homeowner at the front door
Photo caption: Meeting the skylight installation company salesperson.
A skylight salesman climbs into an attic
Photo caption: The salesperson will inspect the attic to see where skylights can be installed.

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The salesperson will discuss options for skylight size and placement based on the type of roof framing — trusses or stick built — and what’s in the attic over the room. Sometimes small things such as plumbing pipes or air venting will need to be moved to make room for the skylights. On the other hand, skylights can often be installed with no modifications. If there’s something big over the room, such as a furnace, consider installing Sun Tunnel® Skylights instead.

Pro tip: Before your installer visits, know where your attic access is and whether it has drop-down stairs or needs a ladder to be accessed.

Installers have different methods to illustrate where skylights could go. Some carry a flashlight to help pinpoint just where they think skylights would look best. Others use painter's tape applied to the ceiling to help you visualize your future skylights. They may also use the VELUX Visualizer app to help you visualize different skylight options.

A skylight salesman uses a skylight to show skylight placement
Photo caption: A skylight installation company salesperson uses a flashlight to explain where a skylight could be installed.

By the end of the visit, your installer should have a cost estimate to share with you for your skylights and their installation. Some will write their estimate by hand, while others have automated processes that enable them to email the cost estimate to you.

Once you approve the cost estimate, the installer will add you to the schedule. As your target date approaches, you may get updates to reconfirm the time and date or to adjust based on the weather.

What happens during skylight installation?

In addition to confirming your installation date a few days in advance, most installers will call about an hour before they arrive at your home to let you know they’re on their way. On arrival, the installer should reconfirm all the details your salesperson reviewed during the sales call including:

  • The location where the skylight will be installed
  • The type of light shaft to be built
  • The model skylight to be installed

Finally, they will ask you to confirm that you want them to proceed with the installation.

How do skylight installers protect your home during a skylight installation?

Your skylight installers should take every precaution to keep your home as clean as they found it, starting with wearing protective shoe coverings when they’re inside.

A skylight installer puts on protective booties over his shoes
Photo caption: A skylight installer puts protective covers over his shoes before entering the home.

They will also lay drop cloths and hang protective sheeting to catch debris and keep dust in their work area.

A skylight installer lays dropcloths over the floor
Photo caption: A skylight installer lays drop cloths to prevent damage to the home.
Skylight installers hang protective sheeting over walls
Photo caption: A skylight installer hangs protective sheeting in the room where the skylight will be installed.

What happens inside the home during a skylight installation?

While each skylight installation is slightly different, most skylight installations follow these steps inside the home:

  • Mark the ceiling: The installer will locate the studs and mark the outline of the hole to be cut in the ceiling.
  • Remove insulation: They will remove the insulation above where the ceiling drywall will be cut.
  • Cut ceiling drywall: The installer will use an electric saw to cut the ceiling drywall away to reveal what will be the light shaft opening.
  • Add framing: The next step is to reinforce the roof structure with additional 2-by-4-inch lumber.
Skylight installer uses painters tape to mark where the ceiling hole will be cut
Photo caption: The installer marks the ceiling where the hole will be cut.
Skylight installer cuts the ceiling hole
Photo caption: The skylight installer cuts ceiling drywall away to form the opening of the light shaft.
Skylight installer nails timber framing to reinforce the light shaft
Photo caption: The skylight installer nails additional framing in place to reinforce the roof where the skylight sits.

What happens on the roof during a skylight installation?

The installers will mark the corners of the skylight opening on the roof from inside the attic, allowing them to easily find where to measure, mark and cut the hole in the roof. They will mark the opening with a snap chalk line and use a saw to cut the roof-deck and shingles. Once complete, you have a clear view from the room inside to the sky.

A view of the sky after the roof hole has been cut for a skylight
Photo caption: A view of the sky as the roof deck is removed to make room for the skylight.

The installers will likely have unboxed the skylight soon after arriving at your home, so it’s ready to go when needed. They will remove the stickers and clean both sides of the glass.

Skylight installer removes product label stickers from a skylight
Photo caption: The skylight installer removes the product label stickers from the skylight glass.

When the time comes, they carry it up to the roof on a ladder. No fancy lifts or cranes are needed here!

A skylight installer carrying a skylight up a ladder
Photo caption: A skylight installer shoulders a skylight and carries it up a ladder to the roof.

With everything on the roof, the installer can get to work. VELUX skylight installers follow these steps during the roof portion of the skylight installation:

  • Expose the roof deck: Some shingles around the newly cut hole will be removed but reused later in the process.
  • Place the skylight: Most installers work in teams with the person on the roof positioning the skylight and the person inside telling them when it’s perfectly aligned with the hole.
  • Nail the deck seal: The installer will nail the flange at the bottom of the skylight to the roof deck, pressing the foam lining to the roof for a good seal. The deck seal is the first layer of protection in the VELUX No Leak Skylight installation.
  • Add all-weather underlayment: The installer sticks all-weather underlayment, which has adhesive on one side, to the roof deck and up the sides of the skylight. It forms the second layer of protection against water or air infiltration.
  • Install VELUX engineered flashing: Step flashing, where flashing pieces are alternated with roofing material, is nailed to the roof along the sides, and saddle flashing is installed at the top and bottom of the skylight. The flashing is the final layer of protection.
  • Add the solar panel: If your skylight is a solar-powered model, the installer will plug in the solar panel and clip it to the top or bottom of the skylight frame.
Man in red shirt screws a skylight to a roof
Photo caption: The skylight installer screws the deck seal to the roof deck.
A skylight installer adds all weather underlayment around a skylight
Photo caption: The skylight installer adds all-weather underlayment around and up the sides of the skylight.
Photo caption: Skylight installers nail flashing pieces into place.
A skylight installer nails flashing in place
Photo caption: The completed skylight installation with the solar panel installed on the top end of the skylight.
A skylight on a roof
Photo caption: The completed skylight installation with the solar panel installed on the top end of the skylight.

Cleaning up the roof after completing the skylight installation

Installers will remove their tools and any packaging from the roof, and some use small leaf blowers to remove dust and debris from the roof. They will remove the packaging and other trash for disposal elsewhere.

What happens during skylight interior finishing?

The last phase of skylight installation is interior finishing. There is much less interior finishing with vaulted or cathedral ceiling skylight installations, compared to flat ceiling skylight installations.

In a flat ceiling skylight installation, the installer will follow these steps:

  • Install drywall in the light shaft: The space around the skylight between the skylight and the ceiling opening is called the light shaft. The installer will cut drywall pieces to cover all four sides of the light shaft and nail them in place.
  • Finish the corners: The installer will install trim in the interior corners of the light shaft and trim around its opening. If you opted for a no-trim finish, most installers will contract a drywall finisher to finish the light shaft with drywall tape and mud.
  • Paint the light shaft: The last step is to paint the interior of the light shaft. Some installers will do the painting, while others contract with a painter to complete this portion of the work.
A skylight installer adds trim pieces to the inside of the light shaft
Photo caption: A skylight installer nails trim pieces in the corners of the light shaft.
A skylight installer nails a trim piece to the light shaft opening
Photo caption: A skylight installer nails trim around the opening of the light shaft.

Now you’re ready to enjoy your new skylight

Before the installers leave, they will remove the protective sheeting and drop cloths, carrying out any debris with them. They’ll return any furniture they’ve moved to its original location and invite you to see your brightened room.

The installers will show you how the remote controls for your skylight and its shade work before leaving. Depending on the installers, they may email their invoice or take credit card payment via a smartphone or tablet.

A skylight installer explains how the skylight works to a homeowner
Photo caption: The skylight installer explains how to use remote controls to open and close the skylight and its shade.

All that’s left for you to do is register your new skylights so that you can stay up to date on the latest product news and inspiration from VELUX.

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