Find out how to install a curbed skylight, which sits about four inches above the roof and is easier to make water-tight. Learn why you should use low-e glass that reflects the sun's heat and also add insulation to keep your house cooler in the summer.
LESLIE: Louella in Oregon needs some help with attic insulation . Tell us what you’re thinking about using.
LOUELLA: Oh, I don’t know. That’s the reason I’m calling you; I don’t know what to use.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Alright, how can we help?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, how can we help you and what are you considering?
LOUELLA: Well, my east roof is made of – if it were made of glass, this time of year, with all those fall-colored leaves, one could see a giant Scotch Tartan muffler (Leslie chuckles) of russet green and gold stretched from Canada to Mexico for as far as eyes can behold.
TOM: (overlapping voices, chuckling) OK. Alright.
LOUELLA: But how do I divorce the intense heat of summer and the cold of winter? Everything up there now is the backside of the roof. You can’t see that beautiful view and I want to know how to make it into glass.
TOM: Yeah. Now, is this roof over an attic? So do you have space for insulation?
LOUELLA: It’s in an attic.
TOM: Mm-hmm, OK.
LOUELLA: But that would block out my view, wouldn’t it?
TOM: Well, what are you seeing now? I mean you’re talking about installing some skylights? Is that what you’d like to do?
LOUELLA: Well, I just want to be able to see that view and all I can see now is the backside of a bunch of boards.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, well – alright, so here’s what you need to do. You need to install skylights  and you have lots of options with skylights. We would recommend that you use a curbed skylight and that means that it sits up off the roof by about four inches. It’s easier to make it watertight.
And once you put that in, then you have to build what’s called a well – which is sort of a light shaft that goes from the skylight through to the ceiling – and then that’s all covered with drywall. So when you’re done, you can look up and you can look out. And depending on the angle of your roof, sometimes, if you have a very steep roof, you put in something called a roof window where you can actually even open it up. So that’s an option.
While you’re working up in there, though, I would make sure that you add some insulation because that’s what’s going to keep the rest of that hot, radiant heat coming through the roof from getting down into your house and warming it up in the summer. And the skylight that you put in, it should have low-e glass ; high-performance glass that actually reflects the heat of the sun back out. If you do that, you can have your view, you can watch your birds, and you can stay cool in the summer.
Louella, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.