Adding roof windows can instantly transform spaces into bright, usable rooms which are less reliant on artificial lighting. Whilst they’re perfect for loft conversions, they can also be used to bring illumination to darker rooms and corridors in your home. Choosing the right window will help to create the most of natural light sources and the most of space in smaller rooms.
The aspect or direction a room or window faces will determine the sort of light it receives. You may prefer a brighter room if you plan to use it as a work or living space, or choose to avoid direct sunlight to keep a room cooler. To make the most of sunlight throughout the day, south facing windows are ideal. North facing windows won’t capture this light, but will still receive a muted, reflected light. If you intend to use your room at a particular time of a day, take into account that east facing windows will capture more light during the morning and west facing windows more light during the evening. Once you’ve worked out which of these factors are most important for the way you plan to use your room, you can work out the ideal location for your windows.
Choosing windows is an important part of a loft conversion – they will determine the brightness of the room, may create obstacles for furniture and fixtures, and can also be used to create attractive features within the room. The type of window will be determined to some extent by pitch of the roof, roofing material and the size and shape of your room. Consider how many windows you would like, and whether there are particular areas of the room you would like to illuminate.
The same principles apply in rooms which open into the roof space. Even more combinations are possible in this situation as it is possible to use both roof and wall hung windows to optimise the use of natural light. Roof windows are ideal for maximising light throughout the day – perfect for home offices.
Before finalising any plans, be sure to check with your local council whether planning permission will be required.
Centre pivot roof windows
These windows consist of a single panel of glass which pivots open and closed from the vertical centre of the window frame. Look for frames with an electronic remote control when installing in hard to reach spaces, and programmable opening with rain sensors to automatically close windows if the weather turns. In more accessible locations it can be just as easy to open and close using the top control bar.
Top-hung roof windows
Top hung roof windows are similar to centre pivot windows, but pivot open and closed from the top of the window frame, giving the illusion of creating more space and offering uninterrupted views when open. The majority feature handles at the bottom of the frame for easy opening. Consider top-hung windows for rooms where headroom and space are at a premium.
Roof window blinds
Specially designed roller blinds can be fitted to most roof windows, providing a stylish and easy way to create shade and prevent heat loss. Available in a wide variety of colours and patterns, these are a great way to add personality to your room.
Whether you’re planning a flat roof extension or have an existing flat roofed room, roof windows can be used to great effect to bring natural light into a room.
Flat roof windows
These are designed to sit flat on the roof surface and open vertically to let in fresh air. As with most roof windows, these can either be opened manually or by electronic remote – a hidden motor and rain sensor make these a great option in rooms with high ceilings. Look for clear polycarbonate covers, where you want to maximise natural light, or opaque covers, where you would like more privacy. Both types also offer excellent sound and heat insulation.
Centre pivot roof windows
By installing a timber kerb to create a pitched window frame, centre pivot roof windows can also be installed on flat roofs. By considering the aspect of the room, it is possible to angle the window to take the greatest advantage of natural light.
Installing new windows can be a big project, therefore, it’s reassuring to know that sometimes there is a simpler solution. Hallways and small rooms can be easily lit using sun tunnels. This window cuts through both the roof and ceiling to provide the same illumination as a roof window, without the need to open the ceiling up into the loft space above.
The use of highly reflective materials allows a surprising amount of natural light to enter the room. This solution works especially well in bathrooms, where privacy might be a concern and space at a premium.
Sun tunnels are easy to install, featuring integrated flashing for excellent weatherproofing.
Sun Tunnel Types
Pitched roof sun tunnels Dependent on where you wish to place your sun tunnel and the pitch of your roof, you can opt for a rigid or flexible tunnel. Concerned about the keeping the window clean? Look for protective coatings that will help to keep the glass cleaner for longer.
Flat roof sun tunnel These are best suited to rooms where it would not be possible to install a standard flat roof window, such as those with a large cavity between the ceiling and roof line. Similar to pitched roof sun tunnels, these consist of a flexible tube and PVC framed roof light with domed covering to allow the most natural light enter your room.
Thinking outside the box? Centre pivot roof windows can be used to create stunning architectural features in your home. Transform an average kitchen, dining room or hallway by using multiple roof windows to create an atrium effect. The windows simply sit within weatherproofed timber core frame and allow light to enter the room from different angles to maximise natural daylight entry.
Remote controlled windows are a great choice here and easily allow extra ventilation in a room. Before finalising any plans, be sure to check with your local council whether planning permission will be required.
Choosing the right style and location for your windows is key to achieving the look and feel you want in your home – but don’t forget to consider two other important points: the finish and glazing of your windows.
The right finish
Centre pivot and top hung roof windows are usually available in two finishes: white polyurethane or lacquered pine.
White polyurethane is the ideal low maintenance choice. The moisture resistant finish has no visible joints, making it perfect for bathrooms and kitchens where the humidity tends to be higher. The white finish complements contemporary homes and neutral interiors.
For a more traditional looks, consider lacquered pine windows. Opt for triple lacquer coated window frames to ensure the natural timber is fully protected from the elements.
The right glazing
Getting the glazing choice right will help to ensure that your windows provide the heat and sound insulation you expect.
The more windows you place in your home, the more opportunity exists for heat to escape. However, by choosing insulated glazing, it is possible to prevent this, and make the most of heat that has risen in your home, especially in loft spaces. Don’t forget that insulated glazing will also help your home to become more energy efficient.
Noise reducing glazing is a smart choice if you live in an area with lots of external noise, such as road traffic. It will also help to reduce the sound of rain on roof windows.
To make the most of the insulation benefits of your glazing choice, you will also need to consider the fitting of the window. The following options will help to improve the thermal and weatherproof qualities of your roof windows:
• For weathertight installation, flashing should be installed between the window frame and roof. Opt for recessed solutions to maximise energy efficiency
• An insulation or underfelt collar eliminates cold bridges between the roof and window frame, thus helping to reduce heat loss
• Concerned about the build up of condensation in the roof? Choose a vapour barrier to aid weatherproofing