In modern architectural terms, roof windows, otherwise known as skylights or rooflights, are a popular and practical choice, with more styles on the market than ever.
Whilst classically a common or even quintessential feature of the standard loft conversion – necessary for the admittance of any natural light – AK Roof Windows are no longer the preserve of the attic bedroom. With varying and varied styles on the market, available in a multitude of designs and sizes, roof lights can a make suitable addition to many parts of the home – providing that it has a roof of course.
Ground floor extensions may particularly benefit from the added illumination, as will any room with an existing roof structure. Most windows can be slotted in with relative ease, with little alteration to the existing framework, and unless you have a listed home, the process is unlikely to require planning permission. Most rooflights are suitable for both flat and pitched roofs, whereas some models will specify suitability for one or the other. Whilst many DIY installation guides are available online, it is recommended to consult a professional before commencing any work.
Contemporary skylights are geared to suit the many needs of many homes, from the period to the most contemporary. No matter the aesthetics however, or the added features, the rooflight’s main functionality remains its inherent quality of allowing external light to pass through into a building. With the modern, scientific understanding of the vast benefits of natural light on our well being, from regulating the bodyclock to maintaining our mental health, illumination is a big selling point from a health perspective, as well as a purely architectural point of view.
With all this in mind, let us take a closer look at what’s on the market. Contemporary roof windows come in three main styles. The most common of these are centre pivot windows, which are also generally the cheapest and the most popular option. A control bar at the top of the window makes it easy to open and adjust to the desired level. Although price is an advantage, the main drawback to this style is that – as they open on a centre pivot, as the name suggests – these windows cause a visual obstruction when open, preventing a clear view.
Top hung roof windows are a more expensive alternative, which avoid the problem of visual obstruction. Additionally, the design makes them simpler to clean, allowing easier access to the outside surface. Top third pivot roof windows, in turn, aim to offer the best of both worlds, by amalgamating the advantages of both the main styles.
Whilst these are the three main types of roof window available, other styles do exist, and can easily be found on the market. These include side hung roof windows, which, as the names suggests, open outwards from the side, much like a conventional window, with a handle as opposed to a bar. Less conventional options also include smaller ‘sun tunnels’ – non-opening skylights which allow for bringing daylight into areas where a conventional roof window cannot be fitted, such as cupboards and stairwells. Exterior light is reflected through a window into a tunnel, which can be rigid or flexible, into the desired area. Tunnel extensions can also be bought separately.
As would be expected in the modern, technological age, roof windows come in various options and with various accompanying features that can be adapted to many needs. Conservation skylights, for instance, are specially designed to fit in with the period home, by mimicking original features such as cast iron and traditional putty. Ultra modern skylights are streamlined for a low profile, combining functionality with a seamless, minimalist look. There are even frameless models on the market. Many roof lights are also designed to act as fire escapes as a safety precaution, many even operating a smoke ventilation system that will open automatically in the event of a fire. Other popular functionalities include self-cleaning glass, UV filters, noise reduction, and extra secure models. Skylights can be solar powered, manual or function electronically.
Many extras and accessories are of course available for compatibility with most roof windows, including blinds, safety locks and opening poles. Blinds come in many styles, such as blackout and light dimming models, many of which can be controlled electronically. Some roof windows even operate external blinds, which are designed to regulate the amount of heat that enters a room. For the most sterile environments there are rooflights with an integrated blind sealed within the glass, which can be operated electronically or magnetically.