Thinking of installing skylights in a kitchen extension or loft conversion? Read on for our expert advice on choosing and maintaining the right rooflight for your needs, including top tips on reducing rain noise!
What are skylights?
Skylights, also called rooflights, are set into a pitched or flat roof, illuminating the room beneath. They are often installed in loft rooms and rear or side-return extensions, either individually or in runs.
What are the advantages of installing skylights?
If you have dark spaces in need of a major light boost, a skylight is super-effective option as they let in up to 40 per cent more light than a regular window.
Skylight panes are usually double or triple-glazed (more on this below) so they are also a very thermally efficient option. You can choose from fixed or opening panels; when going for the latter, remote-controlled rooflights are a smart choice in a room with a high ceiling. Also consider solar or heat-reflecting glass in a south-facing room to avoid sweltering in hot weather.
What glazing do skylights require?
We spoke to Paul Trace, director of Stella Rooflight, to get his verdict on the different glazing options for a new skylight. He noted that glazing can be a tricky subject because there are so many different types available – double, triple, even quad glazing.
‘Unless you require a conservation rooflight, opt for triple glazing as this will have a big impact on the thermal performance. You can choose toughened or laminated glass for protection against falling objects, if that’s a concern.
‘Consider whether you need a solar control element, which minimises solar heat gain by allowing sunlight to pass through the glass while radiating and reflecting away the sun’s heat.
‘Self-cleaning glass is another option which involves a photocatalytic process that, once exposed to daylight, breaks down any organic deposits. This is great for rooflights, where cleaning access is limited.’
How do you reduce rain noise on skylights?
Jonathan Hey, founder and CEO of Aliwood Roof Lanterns, says that reducing the noise of rainfall on skylights begins at installation. ‘People often find the rain to be particularly noisy when their roof window or lantern is improperly fitted. It’s essential for the area around the window to be insulated properly, rather than simply relying on the insulation of the window itself.’
Another aspect that many buyers do not consider is blinds. ‘Many won’t initially consider investing in a blind – as it’s likely to go against the initial reason they installed a roof lantern – but a blind certainly has its advantages as the weather worsens.
‘If grey rain clouds are already blocking out a lot of natural light, it makes sense to go one step further and draw the blinds to reduce rain noise. This can transform the intense and intrusive pounding of rain into a relatively soothing pitter patter. This, accompanied by some cosy blankets and a relaxing cup of tea, can help to make your home much more snug over the rainier months.’
How do you clean skylights?
‘First of all, it’s important to put your safety before the cleanliness of your windows,’ says Jonathan.
‘If you don’t have a sturdy ladder available, aim to use a long-handled mop with a cellulose sponge for any cleaning you do. Unless you’re certain your skylight is made of glass, rather than acrylic or polycarbonate, don’t clean them with ammonia or household window cleaners as this will cause damage. You can simply use a small amount of liquid dish soap in a bucket of warm water.
‘Begin by removing all the dust and debris with a long-handled dry mop (or a clean, dry cloth if you’re using a ladder). Soak your cellulose sponge in a dish soap and water mixture, and wring it out before giving your skylight a gentle wash. Once it’s clean, replace the soapy water with cool, fresh water, ensure your sponge is clean and wash away any soapy residue. Once your skylight has dried, you should find that it’s water mark-free.
‘To keep your skylight looking as good as new, apply a thin layer of auto wax with a clean, dry cloth once the window has dried.’