How to Install a Skylight in the Roof


A skylight can add more light to a room than a common window, making the room feel brighter and larger. Adding a skylight to your home can be an energy-efficient investment, as it will let in natural heat in the winter. Although it also retains heat in the summer, many models have a remote control that allows the window to open slightly, adding ventilation. This allows the hot air to escape through the window and almost eliminates the heat built-up in the room. Installing a skylight can be a project that can be done over the weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Flat pry bar
  • Nails
  • Header joint
  • Drill a hole directly center of where you will be placing the skylight. This will be your locator hole. Go out to the roof. Measure and cut the opening with a circular saw.

  • Frame the newly cut hole with header joists perpendicularly to the rest of the joists. If your home has a normal ceiling (one that does not mimic the angle of the roof), cut and frame the ceiling and make sure to frame a passageway for the light to follow.

  • Cut back the shingles about three inches back from the opening on each side with a utility knife. Carefully center the skylight and place it in its opening. Attach it to the roof with screws or nails.

  • Cut some strips of roofing paper (about eight inches wide) and slide them underneath the shingles. If you are having problems sliding the roofing paper underneath the shingles, try using a flat pry bar to gently lift up the roofing nails and being careful not to damage any shingles. Mount the bottom piece first, then the sides, and finally the top.

  • Install the bottom flashing (the piece that sits above the roof and slightly wraps around the skylight) using either roofing or flashing nails horizontally into the skylight. Do not drive them into the roof.

  • Slide pieces of slip flashing underneath the shingles by starting at the bottom and working your way up (the pieces should overlap each other by about four inches). Attach the flashing to the skylight but not the roof. Most flashings slide into place, but some may need to be attached with nails.

  • Install the solid flashing. Solid flashing is made to fit the window very tight to ensure cannot enter between the skylight and the step flashing. First attach the bottom piece and then the side pieces. To install the top piece, slide it under the roofing and attach it to the skylight. Replace any portion of the ceiling disturbed by the installation. If a passageway was created, make sure to finish this with drywall or the material used in your home. Prepare and paint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the instructions for the manufacturer's installation specifications for cutting a hole in your roof.
  • Some cities require a building permit, while others do not. Its best to check with your city's regulations before starting the skylight's installation.

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  • Photo Credit skylight image by Scott Williams from
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