Sunday, February 19, 2012


I had heard a rumor that the skylights over the bedrooms were installed. So I stopped by to check. From below, the only way I could tell that the rumor was true was the sticker that seemed to be hovering in midair. There is essentially no visible frame to these skylights from the inside, and the glass is clear. I like that.

There will be a wood board finish over the studs in the skylight wells (just like everywhere else in the house).

The units are a bit more obvious from the roof:

Here also you can see that the corrugated metal paneling for the inside of the parapet walls is coming along nicely.

I was nervous about whether the skylights would actually fit over the openings I left for them. It had been months since I wrote down the rough opening size from the skylight website, put the dimension on an updated drawing, and handed it to the framer. What if some little error had been made anywhere in that process? We'd have to tear out the curbs and re-do all the flashing, and likely ruin for good whatever details I wanted inside. I was confident that my dimensions were correct, since I double and triple checked them. But what if there was a typo on the website? What if the framer misread my dimensions? When I heard that the skylights were being picked up and would be installed that day, I prayed a lot. I was disappointed in myself for not field-measuring the openings just to be absolutely sure - and preferably prior to the roofer's extremely careful flashing work around the skylight curbs.

God had mercy on me (again). Every skylight fit perfectly.

Speaking of careful flashing work, the Great Room skylight required the most, by far, with its criss-crossing internal gutters:

Nine other skylights sat stacked on the roof for a few more days so this flashing could be done just right.

And then, at last - nine floating stickers:

I've experienced this space now under both sunny and cloudy skies, and have been surprised to find that the space seems more luminous on cloudy days. These pictures were taken on one of the overcast days. Maybe this is a perception issue - the relative darkness outside makes us expect an even darker interior, so we're surprised when the light level is exactly the same. Maybe.

All the skylights have double-pane insulated glass, but the ones over the Great Room also have a laminated interlayer, like a car windshield - a code requirement for glass higher than 12 feet above the floor.

I think they look pretty sharp from above too.

It's hard to see from these photos, but there is a 1/8-inch deep puddle of water on the low side of each skylight, left from the rain that day. There is a slight slope built into the curbs to help shed water, but the skylight frame sits about 1/8 inch above the glass, so a little water catches there and sits until it evaporates. This worried me at first, and I considered re-installing them with a steeper slope. But I realized that even at a much steeper slope the lip of the frame would still hold some water. So I assume the frame is designed to withstand this. After looking closer at the detail drawings of the frame - and noticing that not a single drip fell inside - I think they'll be okay.

I'm looking forward to seeing snow on these skylights, especially from inside. Sometime in the next five years we may get some.


  1. Thanks Randi. About time for you guys to pay another visit!

  2. Cool! Skylights are definitely a great addition to any establishment. They can help reduce electric bills significantly, as they allow natural daylight to enter the space.

  3. If you feel like star-gazing, you can just lay down on your bed of roses (Hehe) and stare at the skylight atop your roof. It would bring such relaxing view before you sleep at night.

  4. That's the idea, Kermit (minus the roses..). Also I imagine it would be magical to wake up during the night just long enough to roll over and catch a glimpse of Orion, then fall back to sleep and dream of other worlds ;) I like that these skylights can connect us better to the universe.

  5. These may be the first skylights that I've ever seen that I didn't think were ugly. This is a far cry from the opaque domes of old!

  6. You’re right. If it wasn’t for the sticker, one might actually be tricked into thinking there is a hole on the roof. :D The skylight structure is brilliant. It deceives the looker, but in a good kind of way. You would feel closer to nature, to the sky, without the frames to remind you that there is actually glass in between.

    Galliena Gornet

  7. Well, I guess your contractors did a very good job on the fittings, and it looks good too! I’m sure you have a wonderful time looking up at night, under the stars and the nightsky! How cool is that? Well, you could appreciate this even more without the stickers!