Skylights bring natural light into areas that may feel dreary or are devoid of windows. They can also deliver solar heat and make a space feel warmer and brighter. While skylights can be a great addition to any home, insulating them can be challenging. Skylights are prone to air and moisture leaks if not insulated properly. It is important to work with a certified contractor to ensure that the job is done right. Here is a look at how to insulate skylights, the costs involved, and how to choose the best insulation for a sufficient seal.
Best Practices For Skylight Insulation
The introduction of skylights into architecture can be highly advantageous if the industry’s best practices are followed. Failure to insulate skylights according to these practices and local codes can result in a host of problems, such as heat loss and gain, condensation, glare, and UV ray penetration. The practices used to install insulation on a skylight will depend on the type of insulation that is being used.
If a skylight shaft contains an air-permeable insulation, such as cellulose or fiberglass, the insulation should be enclosed on the attic side to create an air barrier. If a skylight is installed in the roof over an attic, a shaft must be built to connect the skylight with the ceiling underneath. Rigid foam is the optimal choice for an attic-side air barrier. Not only do rigid foams like expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) add R-value, they also interrupt thermal bridging through the studs. However, rigid foam must be securely sealed with caulk, high-quality tape or canned spray foam.
What Costs Are Involved In Insulation?
The costs involved in insulating a skylight can vary considerably based on a number of factors, such as the size of the skylight, the quality of the materials used, where you live, and the experience of the contractor performing the work. The type of skylight will also play a factor in cost. There are two main types of skylights available: regular and tubular. Regular skylights can be fixed or venting. Tubular skylights are often less costly compared to regular skylights and consist of a reflective tube that runs from the roof to the ceiling. While the amount of light given off is relatively the same, tubular skylights tend to give off less heat.
The average cost of a skylight can range from $700 up to $3,000, depending on unit placement and roof construction. This includes materials and labor. Insulation makes up just a small percentage of the final installation cost. The average cost to insulate a skylight ranges from $18 to $51 per window, depending on the job size, options and other conditions. This can be a great deal compared to how much you could potentially lose in energy due to heat loss in the winter and conditioned air loss in the summer.
Is Your Skylight Up To Code?
If you are planning on having skylights installed in your home, it is important to ensure that the additions are up to code. Skylight installation typically entails modifying the roof structure and making other changes to the structure of the house. This means that your skylights will have a direct effect on energy efficiency and could have structural implications if not installed and insulated correctly. Building code requirements can vary from state to state. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with your local building codes and speak with your contractor about keeping your skylights up to code.
Choosing The Right Insulation For You
Choosing the correct insulation for your skylight installation project can have a major impact on the energy efficiency and effectiveness of the window. The most widely-used insulation option for skylights in homes is foam insulation. With its high R-value and superior resistance to air infiltration, foam insulation types like extruded polystyrene foam are one of the best options for roof window projects. Rigid sheets of two-inch thick extruded polystyrene foam are the optimal choice for light tunnels that are longer. Shorter light tunnels can be well insulated using spray foam insulation that is applied to the underside of the roof sheathing.
Using Spray Foam
Spray foam can be an excellent insulator under the right conditions. Most spray foam varieties offer great insulation value and have the power to prevent warm indoor air from penetrating the framing cavity. This is essential as indoor air leaks are a common cause of condensed moisture. Most home improvement stores now sell spray-it-yourself foam kits containing pressurized tanks that feed into an application gun. These kits are useful for insulating large areas. However, it is important to use proper eye protection and a respirator when using spray foam to prevent potential injury or illness.
What To Avoid
While there are a number of types of insulation available for skylights, there are certain types you want to avoid altogether. This includes any kind of batt insulation. The use of batt insulation drastically increases the risk of condensation, especially in the winter. Fiberglass insulation is also not an optimal option in most cases. It is important to remember that while most types of insulation will provide protection in the short-term, the wrong types are not likely to hold up in wet, cold, or hot weather conditions. Therefore, it is best to choose the right insulation for your project from the very start.
Speak To The Insulation Specialists
More homeowners are finding the value of installing skylights in their homes. Not only do these windows deliver natural light and heat, they can also make your home appear more stylish and modern. Of course, you want to ensure that your skylights are properly installed to prevent leaks and other problems from occurring. The right insulation plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness and energy efficiency of a skylight. At Beyond Exteriors, we are proud to provide our customers with high-quality insulation installed by experienced and certified contractors. For more information on how to insulate skylights or to acquire a free insulation quote, contact Beyond Exteriors today.