A Guide To Skylights
A skylight is an assembly composed of three different sub-assemblies. The glazing is the transparent pane that admits light. The curb is the structure on the roof that holds the glazing and keeps the whole skylight watertight. The shaft is, obviously, the aperture that links the skylight in the roof with the interior spaces below. Skylights can be glazed with plastics (typically acrylic or polycarbonate) or real glass.
Plastic glazing is typically less expensive than glass. It’s also lighter, which is sometimes a crucial factor. Most plastic skylights fall into a few basic molded shapes, the most common being flat panes, bubbles, domes, and pyramids. Many homeowners opt to install plastic skylights in order to keep their overall costs down. Plastic skylights are susceptible to breakage and cracking over time.
Glass is favored by many homeowners in Thornton because it does not get cloudy, resists scratches, and can be employed in more complex designs. Glass skylights can be single, double, or triple-glazed. (Many plastic skylights offer the same options.) More glazing layers equate to better thermal insulation. In premium glass skylights, the spaces between the panes are often filled with an inert gas like argon to provide even more thermal insulation. The more advanced construction of glass skylights typically grants them a greater resistance to heat flow than their plastic counterparts.
3 Skylight Coatings
With both plastic and glass skylights, a number of different coatings and treatments can be applied to stop the transfer of thermal energy. Coatings can also be used to block certain portions of the light spectrum, typically UV rays. UV blocking is not always perfect; on many skylights, the unit’s capability is expressed as a percentage of total UV exposure blocked. UV blocking is attractive to homeowners because it can prevent damage caused by the sun (e.g. fading) to carpets and furnishings.
Older skylights were typically framed in either wood or aluminum. Today wood, metal, and plastic are all popular framing materials in Colorado. Combinations of two or three of these materials are also frequently used. Many skylights come with flashing integrated directly into the frame, but most installers will add more flashing to minimize the possibility of leakage.
The shaft which directs light down into the interior of the home is typically finished in either plywood or gypsum board. Most shafts tend to get wider the lower they go; this allows natural light to penetrate further into the room. Sometimes this spreading flare is only applied to some of the shaft’s sides; this is usually done to accommodate space limitations.