Skylights can bring light deep into a room and create a sense of drama where there was merely a blank ceiling before. Early versions gained a nagging reputation for leaks, condensation, or heat loss, but if you buy a quality skylight today and have it properly installed, you should find these concerns unfounded.
You can pay as little as $100 for a fixed acrylic skylight, about $500 for a pivoting model that you crank open with a pole, or several thousand dollars for a motorized unit that automatically closes when a moisture sensor detects rain. The most energy- efficient designs feature double glazing and "thermal-break" construction.
Fixed skylights vary in shape from square to circular; they may be flat, domed, or pyramidal in profile. Most skylight manufacturers also offer at least one or two ventilating models that open to allow fresh air in and steam and heat out. Think of rotary roof windows as a cross between windows and skylights. They have sashes that rotate on pivots on each side of the frame, which permits easy cleaning. Unlike openable roof skylights, they are typically installed on sloping walls.
If there's space between the ceiling and roof, you'll need a light shaft to direct light to the room below. It may be straight, angled, or splayed (wider at the bottom).
Fixed skylights vary from square to circular; they may be flat, domed, or pyramidal in profile. Most manufacturers offer several ventilating models.
Think of roof windows as a cross between windows and skylights. Typically installed on sloping walls, they have sashes that rotate on pivots on two sides, which permits easy cleaning.
If you opt for an architecturally elegant window, a decorative bay or bow, or a picture window framing a magnificent view, you may choose to leave it bare. Otherwise, a variety of coverings can dress up openings that are not architecturally noteworthy or where privacy and light control are paramount concerns. You'll find blinds, shades, and shutters in many colors and finishes.
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