A home that is filled with light is a home that conveys warmth and welcoming. For homeowners who want to have more natural light in the home, but are not able to redesign their homes to accommodate more windows, skylights are an attractive option. With the summer solstice just around the corner, members of the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area's leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 48 years, offer an overview of skylight options.
“When you put in a skylight, you get the wow factor,” said Bob Quigley, co-owner of Brillo Home Improvement Inc., Milwaukee, which carries the Velux brand of skylights. “Skylights provide natural light when there is a lack of window. It can light up a significant portion of a dark room, even on a cloudy day.”
There are three main types of skylight a homeowner may choose: fixed, ventilating, and tubular daylight devices (TDDs). A fixed skylight provides light, but not an opening for fresh air. A fixed skylight is less expensive than a vented skylight, which opens to allow air movement.
“Vented skylights can be controlled manually or via remote control and the Velux brand also comes with a rain sensor, so the skylight closes automatically when it starts to rain,” ” said Tim Leigler, exterior product specialist for Callen Construction Inc., Muskego. “That’s great if you have left the house and forgot to close the window.”
Older generation skylights often had a problem with leaking. Now skylights come with an improved flashing system that sheds water without relying on sealants, which can break down over time.
“Velux features three layers of water protections, including a gasket that seals to the roof deck and flashing which goes all around the system. Its leak proof and has a 10-year installation warranty and 20 years on the glass,” Leigler said.
“Skylights also are available in an egress design called roof windows,” said Quigley. “Roof windows come in two styles, a balcony roof window and a top-hinged roof window.”
A balcony roof window is a good option for attic conversions, garage bonus rooms, and lofts. The design allows the window to open out to create a small balcony. A balcony roof window also provides increased safety because it can be used as an emergency exit. A roof window, top-hinged, has a 45-degree opening angle for maximum ventilation.
Skylights also have a number of glass options.
“Velux offers a tempered safety glass triple coated with LoE3 (low emission) and injected with argon gas,” said Dan Sturm of Wisconsin Sunlight Solutions in Milwaukee. “This allows the sun's heat and light to pass through the glass into the building. At the same time, it blocks heat from leaving the room, reducing heat loss considerably. Homeowners can also choose a laminated glass with the same triple layer of LoE3 coating, or white laminated glass for diffused daylight. Blind options include blackout blinds to block the light entering the room, roller blinds to diffuse the light entering the room, and Venetian blinds to adjust the light entering the room.”
Differing from these traditional window skylight designs, a TDD is a dome-shaped product that directs light to specific areas through highly reflective tubing.
“TDDs are a great option for closets, hallways, and laundry rooms, but they are just as viable for any room in the house,” said Keith Johnson of Brighter Concepts, Ltd., Milwaukee’s dealer and installer of Solatube Tubular Skylights.
Johnson explained Solatube provides natural light through a small rooftop opening without removing or modifying existing joists or pipes. “The Solatube takes skylights one step further by refracting, reflecting, and concentrating solar light into a small tube using reflective tubing and lenses,” he said. “A Solatube reflects the sun no matter which direction the sun is.”
A 10-inch Solatube will bring in daylight up to a 200 square foot area, and a 14-inch tube lights up to 300 square feet. A 21-inch Solatube will light a 500 square foot area. Solatube’s also have dimmer switches to adjust the light level, and also have light and fan options.
A TDD also has a much simpler installation process than a traditional skylight. “We can install a Solatube in about 90 minutes,” Johnson said.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 900 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call (414) 771-4071 or visit the Council’s Web site at www.milwaukeenari.org.
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