Replacing Skylights When Re-Roofing

By Robert Robillard on Home Repairs And Remodeling

Replacing Skylights When Reroofing – The Age Old Debate

Skylights are a popular option for bringing natural light into a home and can transform a room, adding more light than a window.  Most roofers will recommend replacing your skylights when you re-roof.

In our opinion, it’ the most cost-efficient way, and it allows you to synchronize your roof and skylight warranties. I wish I always followed my own advice, in one case I didn’t.

Re-Roofing and Skylight Failure

They say hindsight is 20/20. Well in my case it certainly is. A reroof is an expensive project and a few years back I paid for my roof to be stripped and re-roofed, In an attempt to cut costs, I decided NOT to replace a 20 year old skylight and instead opted to use a re-flashing kit. At that time the idea seemed like a good one; the skylight was in great shape, and relishing it seemed like a less expensive alternative.

Fast-forward to a year or two later and two things happened;

First, the glass seals failed, causing the skylight to fog up and look dirty and second; I decided that I wanted to put solar panels on my roof. The decision to install solar factors in that you need a fairly new roof, and before the roof got any older, I needed to act now.

The issue was I had a 20-year old skylight with glass seal failure, and if I didn’t replace that skylight now, doing it with solar panels on the roof would be a nightmare.  That mean ripping up fairly new shingles – something I should have done during the re-roof.

Moral of the story is; if you’re considering solar panels, make sure you have a new roof and skylights beforehand.

Consider the Cost vs. Replacement

As a remodeler I try to show my clients that the price differential to replace a skylight when re-roofing, is reasonable.

  • Cost of re-flashing $500
  • Replacement costs $800 to $1500, depending on skylight options.

The price differential isn’t big if you’re getting the skylight replaced during a re-roof, but having it done soon after is a different story.

The idea behind this argument is to get you to think long-term. In my situation, everything was fine, until a year later, when the seals failed. That meant that I had to tear up the new roofing and re-do the shingles and peel and stick underlayment at the skylight area. An additional cost that could have been avoided and would have been more cost-effective to do when my roof was being done!

Skylights Have a Finite Life Span

Everything has a life span and skylights lifespan is the same as a roofing shingle, which is approximately 20 to 25 years.

Ask yourself whether that skylight is really worth saving, and also remember that that many skylight seals fail after 15-20 years.

Disturbing the Skylight Can Lead to Leaks

Disturbing the area around a skylight can also lead to it leaking or seal failure. In my case, the roofer was adding a layer of 1/2 “plywood over the 100 year old roof boards. He removed my old skylight and then reinstalled it, using a new flashing kit.

That skylight may have been fine installed with my old roofing but, but the roofing process may have disturbed it, causing seal failure. Who really knows? What I do know is that for  $500 more at that time I could’ve had a new skylight with better options and greater energy efficiency.

Newer Skylights Mean Better Efficiently

As a remodeler I use Velux brand skylights because they have great features and offer a “No Leak Promise, a 10-year warranty on product and installation.”

Some of the features that I try to educate my client on are:

  • Solar powered / Rain Sensing
  • Programmable
  • LoE3 coated glass
  • Solar Blinds
  • Tax Credit
  • 10 year warranty

Solar Powered

Solar powered skylights use the power of the sun to open and close. That’s means no electrician or running of electrical wires are needed. This makes for a GREAT option for replacement. That means that you can change out your skylight with upgraded options and no opening of walls to run electrical wires.

This is a HUGE PLUS for skylight replacements in areas that are hard to reach and would normally require a long pole to manually open and close.

The solar powered skylight uses a small solar panel on the roof exterior to capture available daylight and charge a small, concealed battery. Even on cloudy days, the solar panel will continue to charge. If your skylight is open and it begins to rain a built in rain sensor will automatically close your skylight.


A pre-programmed remote control, allows the homeowner to open or close you’re one or a slew of skylights without having to manually crank them open and closed.

The remote allows custom programs to open and close during scheduled times of the day to refresh your home and allows you to choose how much to open them. The remote also controls the solar blinds as well.

LoE3 Glass Coating

LoE3 coated glass, which improves the energy performance rating by 35 percent over skylights from the early 1990s constructed with dual pane clear glass

Solar Blinds

Solar blinds are installed in the interior space of the skylight and powered by a small solar panel. These blinds give the homeowner the control over the light during the day and insulation value at night to improve the rooms light and comfort. A variety of designs and styles allow you to choose between colors, light defusing and room darkening.

Some of the blinds available are:

  • Room darkening – double pleated
  • Light filtering – single pleated
  • Blackout blinds – flat
  • Light filtering – flat
  • Venetian blinds
  • Multiple color available

Tax Credits

VELUX Solar Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights qualify for a 30% federal tax credit on product and installation. This amount to approximately $140 savings after tax credit eligibility. This tax credit is available through Dec. 31, 2016.

Should You Do It?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to replace or re-flash will rest on the homeowner, but in the latter case some roofers will include a disclaimer stating that they will not be held responsible for future skylight leaks.

To us at Concord Carpenter replacing skylights when re-roofing is a no-brainer, cheap insurance, common sense decision. Just do it!

Replacing or Re-Using a Skylight – “the DEBATE” Video

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

All posts by Robert »

Not what you're looking for?

Search for more articles here. Enter keywords like roof leak, bookcase, deck, etc to find your topic.

© Copyright 2019 A Concord Carpenter · All Rights Reserved