04 Feb 2020

How to choose the best rooflight for your project

Are you thinking of having rooflights installed in your home? If so, here are six things to consider before you make your choice. Carefully considering these key points will ultimately make the shopping process much easier and ensure you get a rooflight that is perfect for your individual project.

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1. Why do you want a rooflight?

First and foremost, you need to ask yourself what exactly it is you want your new rooflight to do, i.e. what do you want to achieve by having it installed? Then you can start considering what options are available to you. Maybe you’ve got an existing rooflight that has seen better days, and you want to replace it with a higher spec, more modern alternative. Perhaps you want to do away with an old conservatory roof and have something slightly different by fitting a rooflight instead.

Whatever your reasons for wanting a rooflight installed, the primary benefit you’re going to get is more natural light. This not only makes your living space brighter but can also help reduce your energy costs too. The type of room or living space where you want to install the rooflight also matters. For example, the size, shape and style of a rooflight in a conservatory, where lots of light is the primary goal, would differ from what you might choose to fit in a bedroom. That’s why the specific application always needs to be considered first.

Finally, will you want your new rooflight to open? No problem, you just need to take that into account when you’re considering your rooflight options.

2. Do you want it to be pitched or flat?

Where are you going to have the rooflight installed? Will it be located on a flat or pitched roof? The good news is that both options are available to you, which means you can achieve the look you want without having to make any major modifications.

Flat rooflights can be installed with as little as a 5º pitch. This ensures that rainwater will run off instead of pooling. If your roof doesn’t already have a 5º pitch, one can be achieved using a small timber frame, called an upstand.

Roof lanterns allow more light into the property as there is more glass area to draw in light. Lanterns also add a sense of height, which can lift the area, something that cannot be achieved with flat rooflights. The pitched glass usually makes roof lanterns lower maintenance as dirt and debris cannot settle down on them as easily. When it comes to pitched rooflights, look for ones that are designed to provide a frameless view from the inside. They provide up to 49% more natural light compared to traditional rooflights. It’s also worth checking if they have built-in flashing aprons as these ensure maximum water dispersion.

3. What size do you want your rooflight to be?

Bigger is better, right? Not necessarily, especially with rooflights. The size of your rooflight will ultimately depend on where you want to install it and what you want to achieve. Most reputable rooflight suppliers offer a choice of standard sizes that provide a good solution for most building projects. If you want to achieve a unique look or perhaps have an awkward space to accommodate, ordering direct from a manufacturer is an option. Manufacturers offer standard sizes, as well as the opportunity to build bespoke rooflights designed according to your exact specifications. Ordering a bespoke rooflight shouldn’t mean a big difference in price but does provide more alternatives.

Be aware that some manufacturers work to the overall size of the rooflight, which includes the surround frame, resulting in far less visible light than a product that works to internal dimensions. This means that if you’re not careful, you could end up with 25% less light for your money.

4. What shape do you want your rooflight to be?

All rooflights are square or rectangle, right? Wrong. In fact, there are a number of different shapes and styles available. While it’s true the majority of rooflights you see are square or rectangle, round ones are becoming increasingly popular too. It really depends on where you are looking to install the rooflight and what you want to achieve.

In addition to round, there are also pyramid-shaped rooflights that add both style and functionality. The extra glass attracts sunlight from all angles throughout the day, making illuminating a dark corner much easier. Pyramid rooflights can also slide open to offer ventilation as well as extra light.

5. Do you need to be able to walk on it?

Are you looking to illuminate a basement or cellar? Walk-on rooflights enable you to do just that, both internally and externally, without losing valuable floor space. Walk-on rooflights are extremely durable and allow you to showcase hidden architectural or archaeological underground features and introduce extra light to rooms that are below ground level. They can be installed indoors or outdoors, and you can add an anti-slip surface to ensure that you won’t compromise safety.

Looking for something slightly more special? Consider a walk-on rooflight with underfloor lighting for a seriously dramatic effect. Such features often become great talking points due to their fascinating nature.

6. Does it need to sit low to your roof?

Whether you like it or not, certain Building Regulations dictate that rooflights must sit low to your roof, which means pyramid rooflights and roof lanterns can’t always be used. Fortunately, the extensive range of rooflights available today means this doesn’t pose a problem. Flat rooflights have extremely slim aluminium profiles, which allow them to be installed flush with minimal protrusion to the existing roof.

Where aesthetics are key, frameless designs with glass flush to the edge are the order of the day. Your chosen rooflight partner will be able to advise you on what can be done to ensure you abide by Building Regulations. Any reputable supplier should be happy to do this.

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