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Installing a New Skylight

If you're ready to make some major renovations to your home, here's a suggestion:  Consider putting in a skylight.  Why? There are several good reasons.  The obvious reason is that they allow more light to flow into the house.  They also provide better ventilation, and they will greatly increase the re-sale value of your house.  But let's face it, the best reason to install a skylight is because they look cool.  If you do decide to put in a skylight, when you're trying to pick the right one, remember that they should take up at least ten percent of the room's square footage.  Also, it's important to call City Hall and find out what requirements there are before you can begin a major project like this.

1) The first step is to cut and frame an opening for the light.  In doing this, you should consult the instructions for the skylight, following their specifications.  From the inside of the roof, drill a reference hole to indicate where you want the skylight's center to be.  Then go up to the roof and, using a circular saw, cut your opening.  You should frame your opening so that it's strong; this will require that you install header joists which are perpendicular to all the other joists.  If you have a flat ceiling that does not follow the roof's angle (and most ceilings do not), you must cut / frame the ceiling also, framing a vertical passage so that the light can flow through it.

2) Next, use a utility knife to cut the roofing back.  Use a straight edge to make sure you cut in even swipes.  Now cut the shingles on the roof three inches from the opening on each of the four sides.  Place the skylight in the center of the opening, connecting it to your roof with either screws or nails.

3) Cut several strips of roofing paper, making them around seven or eight inches wide. Slip these strips under your shingles. Then install the skylight's bottom piece, followed by the sides, and then followed by the top part.  If possible, have someone help you with this stage, since getting the paper beneath the shingles can  be a bit tricky. now use a crow bar to pull up all roofing nails so they don't get in the way. As you do this, be careful that you don't damage any shingles.

4) Now it's time for installing the bottom and the step-flashing. The bottom flashing is the single piece that will wrap partly around the skylight; it will sit on top of your shingles.  Pound some flashing or roofing nails into the skylight (horizontally), but not into the roof.

5) You're almost finished now, but first you need to slip the pieces of step-flashing beneath the shingles.  Start near the bottom on every side, and work your way up.  Make sure that the step-flashing pieces overlap by about four or five inches.  Be sure not to attach flashing pieces to the roof, but to the skylight. Finally, install all the solid flashing-pieces. These are meant to fit perfectly onto the skylight. Their purpose is to keep water from entering between the step-flashing and the light. Last, slip the top piece under your roofing and attach it to the skylight. Now you're done--and you can go inside to enjoy your new skylight!

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