Green Renovation: Adding Skylights, Part 4

Jim Mallery

Part 4 of a six-part series, Green Renovation: Adding Skylights

Adding Skylights, Part 3

Previous articles have looked at types of skylights and their placement. This article will get you up on the roof and ready for light.

Framing the Skylight Well

In the last article, you cut the ceiling hole. At this point you're ready to frame the well for the skylight.

  • Install headers and footers of the same size lumber as the rafters/trusses
  • Install vertical pieces in the corners
  • Remember to include backing for the drywall at both edges of the corners.

Up on the Roof

Only after you have framed the well for the skylight are you ready to cut the hole in the roof. There's no reason to cut it earlier, only to leave your house open to the elements.

Start by punching nails from the underside of the roof to mark the corners. Now you can go up on the roof to remove the shingles or shakes. You'll be removing the roofing to about three inches outside the perimeter of the skylight cutout.

  • Snap chalk lines to mark your boundary
  • Cut wood shakes with a circular saw; set the blade depth to cut just through the shakes, not the sheathing.
  • If your roof is old, single ply composite shingle, you can cut the material with a linoleum knife.
  • If you have more modern multi-ply shingles, use a circular saw, but use an old blade. It will ruin the blade.

With the roofing removed, cut your hole for the skylight with a circular saw, using your corner nails for your guide.

Tips to Remove Roofing Nails

You will be sliding roofing felt and flashing up under the existing shakes/shingles, so you need to remove roofing nails or staples that will be in your way.

  • Make sure to wear sturdy gloves for this project
  • Work a pry bar under the shingles a foot or so until you come to a fastener
  • Pry out the nail or staple and move on to the next--harder than it sounds, as it can take a bit of force

An alternative is to use a reciprocating saw under the roofing to cut the fasteners, though this will leave nail stubs that can be troublesome to work the felt and flashing past.

In Part 5, you'll learn how to build the curb and prepare for the final installation steps.

Adding Skylights, Part 5

About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding homes.

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