Skylights for Different Roof & Ceiling Pitches

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers

Some people think that skylights can’t work for them due to the structure of their homes, but they’re actually surprisingly adaptable. No matter the pitch of your roof or the slope of the ceiling beneath it, you can find skylights to add plenty of natural light inside. Here are some of the different options to consider!

VELUX Solar Powered "Fresh Air" Skylights

Vaulted ceilings practically demand skylights! And these VELUX® No Leak Solar Powered Fresh Air Skylights offer so much more than just natural daylighting—they refresh the interior by opening to vent hot air and feature blackout shades that can effectively block out the sun when you’d like to keep the room darker.

Skylights for Vaulted Ceilings

Most roofs are pitched to easily shed rain and snow, and the ceilings on the other side are vaulted as a result. Views of these ceilings and the volume they create used to be lost to attics in the past, but many newer homes open up this space to naturally light from above. Skylights are perfect for vaulted ceilings because artificial lighting can’t fill all that volume as effectively as the sun. Just imagine if you had a wall of that height and didn’t install high windows—it would be pretty dim up there!

Skylights are purposely designed to work with the roof, so they aren’t like regular windows. VELUX® Skylights are installed with three layers of weather protection to prevent leaks; stopping moisture from trickling through an opening in the roof takes more than a window because of the effect of gravity. You can select curb or deck mounted skylights for sloped roofs; curb mounted skylights are installed on a curb constructed of 2x4 lumber—like a shoe box top sits on the box—that stands out from the roof and is ideal for lower pitches while deck mounted skylights have a much lower profile that performs best when installed on steeper pitches. The structure of your house determines what you should choose, so let a professional do the ordering to ensure your skylights are the right fit for your roof.

VELUX CurveTech Fixed Flat Roof Skylights

VELUX® CurveTech Fixed Flat Roof Skylights shed rainwater and provide clearer views of the sky than standard flat skylights. They’re made for roof pitches ranging from 0 to 15 degrees and their unique curved glass captures light from more angles to effectively brighten the interior throughout the day.

Skylights for Flat Roofs

You may not think you have any options if you have a flat roof due to the risk of standing water, but that isn’t the case! Even the flattest roofs should still have a slight slope for drainage because the weight of trapped water alone would cause a problem, forget leaking. Of course, creating an opening on a flat roof ups the stakes, but this is where curb mounted skylights really shine.

Skylights for flat roofs feature a higher curb to raise the glass even higher off the roof surface. This creates more room to get those layers in order for waterproofing. The glass of skylights specialized for flat roof conditions is also different—it’s curved to shed rain, because the non-existent slope of the roof won’t automatically do it for you. As a bonus, the curved glass is able to catch more light than it would if it were flat due to the arc of the sun over the day. So, if you have a flat roof, don’t overlook skylights—they can completely transform your interior like they would in any other house!

VELUX Skylight in a Light Well

If your ceiling doesn’t match the pitch of your roof, no worries! The skylight installer can design a flared light well, like the example seen here, to allow natural light from the skylight to spill further into the room. Even deeper light wells can have flared construction, too. Skylight installers often expose rafters or trusses within a light well to bring in more light and create an architectural feature in the ceiling.

Skylights for Pitched Roofs and Flat Ceilings

Skylights aren’t just for homes where the roof matches the ceiling. Tons of houses have pitched roofs with flat ceilings inside whether you’re looking at new construction or older homes with attics. Believe it or not, this arrangement is still compatible with skylights! Just install a skylight suitable for the pitch of the roof and direct the light where you want it with a light well or choose a Sun Tunnel® skylight instead.

A light well connects a standard skylight to the interior through the attic space. Basically, you cut an opening in the ceiling beneath the skylight and then install drywall to create a shaft, closing off the attic so all of the light is directed down into the room. This is ideal when you have plenty of dead space and want to flood the interior with light. Sun Tunnels also cut through the attic, but they’re much smaller and able to replicate the look of recessed lighting. They reflect sun captured from the roof through a highly reflective aluminum tunnel that can bend around obstacles to shine it where you want it. So, whether you need a solution for a large room or a tighter space, don’t let the attic prevent you from choosing to install skylights.

VELUX Roof Windows

Roof windows are similar to skylights, but they’re installed in places you can reach and open wide enough to be a point of egress in case of emergencies. If you weren’t sure what to do with a pitched wall, here’s your answer!

Roof-Access Options

What if your roof and walls are one and the same? It can happen in some spaces like lofts and bonus rooms! This gives you the unique opportunity to install what’s known as a roof window. Similar to skylights at first glance, roof windows differ in their breadth and operation because they’re also designed to provide a point of egress. So, not only do they offer plenty of light and ventilation, but they can help add even more value to your home by transforming unused space into additional living or sleeping quarters. Regular windows provide this functionality in most rooms, but you’ll need a specialty roof window if you have a sloped roof and not a perpendicular wall to work with.

Check out VELUX® if you need any sort of natural lighting solution! They offer all sorts of products to help you take advantage of sunlight that would otherwise go to waste on the roof. With skylights for tricky placements and plenty that pull double duty by opening to provide passive ventilation as well, you’re sure to find something that’ll improve your home. Find a local dealer or installer to discuss your needs!

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