Install a DIY Skylight

With these DIY skylight installation plans, you can install a skylight in your roof cheaply and easily.
By Flip Heilig
February/March 1992
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The trickiest part of installing the skylight is to make it completely waterproof. A heavy plastic wrap will do nicely, but make certain that no moisture can sneak between the frame and the roofing.
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Installing a DIY skylight in your home is a lot easier than you think. There are so many advantages to these skylights that I'm sure everyone would or should want one or two. Aside from the romantic aspects of watching the rain or snow fall at night with the stars glowing, skylights cut down on your use of electricity (in our case, kerosene) and will help heat your home on sunny days.

I'm not a very talented person in this department, but with a sunny afternoon and a little research at the dump, these portholes in the roof proved to be quite simple to add to a new or already existing structure. And let's face it, any home improvement that can actually be done by the homeowner is an invaluable source of self esteem, and accomplishing it for almost nothing can only add to that good feeling.

First gather all the materials (most of which can be scrounged for free) and tools necessary for the job. The building process will only take about two hours.

Materials Needed:Old window (from a dump or demolition company)
1-by-4-inch board cut to the length you need (this is determined by adding 2 inches on all
sides of your window and measuring)
2-by-6-inch board the appropriate length for a window casing
1-by-2-inch board to support the window in the casing on all sides
1-by-6- or 1-by-8-inch board the length of your window
1 quart roofing tar and a suitable paint brush
4 pieces of lath
1 piece of 6 mil clear plastic at least 10 inches larger than window on either side
1 pound each eightpenny and tenpenny common nails
1 box small staples
Scrap roofing (about 2 yards)

Tools needed:
Hammer
Saw
Square
Pencil

Constructing the Skylight

When it's time to go to work, be sure to pick a day when you'll have a few hours of sunshine. (These directions are for an already existing building, but if you're building a new home, it's even easier.)
1. Remove all roofing where hole is to be cut.
2. Cut hole in your roof the size of your window. Being on the lazy side, I used a chain saw, but a hand saw will work just as well.
3. Measure and cut 2-by-6-inch board and frame under edge of hole, making a casing for the window to set in.
4. Measure and cut 1-by-2-inch boards to fit inside of casing flush with bottom and nail.
5. Set window in place (and smile because it's startin' to take shape)
6. Build a frame from the 1-by-4, 2 inches larger on all
sides than the hole and nail to roof.
7. Cut the 1-by-6 or 1-by-8 to fit inside across middle of frame. Cut so board tapers to 4 inches at the ends and nail in place.
8. Tar and paper around frame on roof.
9. Cover with plastic and staple in place.
10. Nail lath around outside of frame to help secure plastic.

Now enjoy all the warm sunlight shining in through your roof. In the evening you won't have to light your lamps as early, which will save you what it cost to build this economical, practical skylight.








Post a comment below.

 

Scott Brown
5/17/2012 3:13:06 PM
As mentioned earlier, the directions are quite vague. More importantly, the use of any old window found at a dump or demolition (or second hand store) will not do either. Consider the effects of hail, wind blown debris, the weight of snow, etc. There is a reason most skylights are domed and constructed out of an ultra durable poly material. I would avoid using these instructions on anything more than a shed or greenhouse...

JAMES CAMUSO
5/17/2012 12:32:11 AM
Cut the roof hole with a chain saw? The sheer volume of insulation and asphalt that would jam up the works would be prohibitive without mentioning that you located the truss and joist positions from cutting the inside ceiling out first and moved any plumbing or wiring or A/C ducts if needed. Framing an angle for a shallow attic with the correct pitch is not a job for a novice. It might have helped in the article to mention that the dimensions are for a specific location on a specific type of roof and that the shingles need to be pulled and replaced if it even is a shingled roof to begin with. Flat windows are Okay if a properly raised frame is made but an inexpensive preformed dome is much easier and already has an edge flange for sealing the joints.

ABBEY BEND
5/16/2012 7:30:02 PM
Just to warn anyone thinking about doing this project, the way it is described, it most likely will leak! Not at first, but within a few years, this will leak and create a great deal of grief! As people have mentioned the details are kind of sparse to actually use this article for a guide also. Jeff has pointed out a few of the problems with the directions included. :) Not that hard to build a skylight, but building one that does not leak after a period of time, now that is really the idea, isn't it!

Jeremy Marcum
12/26/2011 4:11:18 PM
Also, the picture provided shows the interior has been drywall finished, and does not disclose the location of the 1 x 2 casing. Please help friends, and sorry if this has been posted twice, the website was acting up during my encounter with this article and my comments.

Jeremy Marcum
12/26/2011 4:03:35 PM
I would love to do this project, but without any pictures the project description is very vague to me. For Step 4, is this just additional trim that contacts the window glass, for cosmetic reasons? What is "bottom"? Bottom side of glass, or bottom of 2 x 6 boards? I assume glass, but... ? Step 6, the fact that you are using 1 x 4s, which are actually 3.5 inches thick, means the frame will automatically be more than 2 inches larger than the hole, unless the boards are to be ripped down, or unless the boards bridge the roof surface and the glass. The latter might seem obvious, but would help to clarify that in the instructions for people. Step 7, I cannot fathom what this means. Inside across middle of frame? Inside the house? Inside across middle? What? Cut so it tapers at ends and nail in place? What could this mean and what does it look like? I've spent a few minutes pondering it and my head hurts. The one picture is from the inside of the house and there is a clear unobstructed view through the glass. I can't begin to comprehend where this mystery board goes. Can someone please take the guesswork out of this otherwise cool project? Thanks for the original post, but it could really use some clarification for me, and potentially, many others. Peace!








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