What is involved in installing a skylight on a cathederal ceiling?

Answered by Brett ~ June 30, 2010 ~ No Comments

I have a cathedral ceiling in which I would like to install a skylight. There are skylights on the other side of the roof, but they are boxed in so the light comes to standard ceiling height. What's involved in this type of project?

Mary P. ~ Greenville, North Carolina

Brett Kulina

Mary, installing a skylight into a cathedral ceiling can be pretty straight forward, but it often requires working on a steep pitched roof and some significant carpentry skills are needed to successfully cut a hole in the roof, frame the skylight opening, and to properly flash and repair the exterior roofing. If you have not completed this type of project before, then you should consult a qualified contractor who works in the Greenville area to help plan and complete this home improvement.

Many types of skylights are specifically designed to be installed between the rafters of a cathedral ceiling, therefore a small portion of the interior ceiling will need to be removed so that you can locate the rafters. Most rafters are positioned approximately 24 inches apart, and if the new skylight is wider than the space between your rafters, then one or more rafters may need to be cut in order to frame the skylight opening. Remember, if any rafters need to be cut or altered, it is very important that the roof structure not be compromised or weakened, which is another reason why you should consult a contractor for this type of project.

After the new skylight is set into the newly framed opening, then the roofing shingles will need to be repaired from the outside. This usually involves installing metal flashing around the rim of the skylight and caulking all the seams and joints where the roofing shingles overlap the flashing. Make sure that the instructions which come with the skylight are followed exactly, as a leaky skylight can cause serious water damage to your house. Once the exterior roofing is made water tight, then the interior ceiling will need to be repaired and some wood trim can be installed around the skylight.

An experienced carpenter should be able to install a skylight in a day or two, which is about as long as you would want to expose the inside of your house to unexpected weather. So check the forecast and schedule the work to be completed when there are sunny skies and no rain!

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