Best Skylights? Velux Skylights!

Category: Hardware & Appliances

Maybe skylights can't be guaranteed not to leak, but every professional we've talked to says Velux is, hands down, the way to go.

Our Review

I'll say up front that we actually didn't do as much comparative research on skylights as we did for central air conditioning or other products. Why? Because all of the initial research we did quickly pointed to Velux.

Granted, we don't have a lot of quantitative evidence to point to. (Consumer Reports hasn't reviewed skylights.) That said, we did talk to several architects and builders, and it was amazing how consistently (and enthusiastically!) they said that Velux was the way to go.

As for specifics, here are a few of the things that we heard:

  • Velux is the only system that doesn't depend on caulk for a good seal.
  • The flashing system is superior.
  • Installing a Velux is extremely clean--slip your drywall into the built-in slot and you're "finished look" is perfect.

Given that we focused less on Velux vs. [INSERT ANY VENDOR HERE] and more on deciphering the various Velux options, what follows is a summary of what we learned in choosing our own Velux windows...

Skylight Options

  • 16" vs. 24" - A good first step is to determine the type of roof you have. Velux offers skylights in many widths but they're all designed to compliment either 16" on centers or 24" on centers construction.
  • Fixed vs. Vented - Skylights can be opened to let in air or can be fixed and just serve to let in light. This is a matter of preference.
  • Curb or flush mounted - Curb-mounted skylights rise above the plane of the roof on a wooden frame, while flush-mounted skylights are recessed and the glass is flush with the roof surface. Here there was clear guidance from every source we consulted--flush-mounted skylights leak. Avoid them.\
  • Glass treatments - Velux offers two types of glass treatment: "Comfort" glass, which minimizes heat loss and gain, and "ComfortPlus" which offers extra UV protection (so your fabrics don't fade).
  • Integrated vs. Step Flashing - Along with step flashing details on each side.
  • Electric vs. Manual - On the higher end, VSE models offer electric openers that operate via remote control. They even have moisture sensors so that the window shuts when it rains. No surprise here--they're not cheap.
  • Shade Options - Velux shades block varying degrees of light, from cellular shades to opaque blinds. If a particular shade is important to you, than look into this early on--not all shades are available for each skylight style.

    Our Choice
    We've decided to get two skylights for our master bedroom, installed as a pair over the bed. Specifically, we're getting the Velux VS 304--a 30" x 46" manual venting skylight. We also ordered cellular shades for both.

    Hopefully it should look something like this.

    Needless to say we're excited to get the skylights installed. We got ours as a special order from Home Depot...they've arrived and we're hoping our neighbor Jay (a former carpenter) will be able to come over soon and to help install them.

    (And yes, we've discussed the "do you want to listen to the rain over your head?" question with a few people. We both love the sound of rain overhead. Must be left over from summer cabins, tents and sleeping on boats in early childhood.)

    Looking for More?

    House in Progress Search for more on 'Velux skylights' on this site. Search for 'Velux skylights' on on other houseblogs like this one.
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    I have installed Velux skylight in three places where I have lived and I have never had any problems with leaks...but good installation is crucial.

    Make sure you have plenty of Ice and Snow Shield for carpenter friend Jay to I@S shield the opening before the wood frame is attached to the roof deck, and I@S shield again up the sides of the wood, before the step flashing is installed. This protects that raw wood frame, and it will form a seal around the fasteners for the frame, flashing and shingles so you don't have to go hunting for mystery leaks in the attic at a later date(we already know how much you love that).

    I love your site and am on my second bring the bungalow back from the brink while I live in it adventure.


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