Installing a Tube Skylight

This story shows you how to install a tube skylight.


A standard skylight is difficult to install when the ceiling does not follow the roof line. A tube skylight enables you to bring natural sunlight into a flat-ceiling room with relative ease. You won't have to cut through framing or install new framing.

The metal tube for the type shown here assembles like ductwork. A variety of elbow fittings are available to make turns. Some units have flexible tubing for installation in hard-to-reach areas.

Some models offer an electric light that fits into the tube to provide overhead lighting at night and some can control the amount of sunlight that comes in. Those upgrades call for adding an electrical circuit and making electrical connections.

The most crucial part of the job takes place on the roof. Follow manufacturer's instructions carefully to ensure that the unit will not leak.

Prestart Checklist

About half a day to install a tubed skylight with one or two turns in the ducting

Tape measure, hammer, drill, flat pry bar, putty knife, drywall saw, screwdriver, reciprocating saw, utility knife

Measuring, sawing, working at heights

Determine where you want the skylight and check that the attic space above is unobstructed.

Tubed skylight, ductwork (tubing), elbows as needed, sheet metal screws, duct tape or tape provided by manufacturer, roofing cement

Step 1

Drill a hole where you want the skylight to be and poke a wire up into the attic. Find the wire in the attic and drill a hole nearby, centered between two joists so there will be room for the tubing.

Step 2

Trace the outline of the ceiling ring on the ceiling, with the locator hole in the center. Cut the opening using a drywall saw or saber saw. Attach the ceiling ring using the hardware provided that grips the drywall from behind.

Step 3

Start assembling the tube in the attic. Start with an elbow at the bottom and add pieces of tubing until you are near the roof. Center the tube between two rafters. Drive a nail up through the roof to indicate the center of the roof unit.

Step 4

Caution: Prepare a safe and secure working platform on the roof. Using the unit's flange as a template, mark for cutting a round hole in the roof. Use a crayon or chalk to mark on darker roofing.

Step 5

Drill an access hole with a 3/4-inch spade bit. Use a reciprocating saw to cut the hole, guiding it around the outside of the cutline to give yourself some wiggle room during installation.

Step 6

Check manufacturer's instructions for how much roofing to remove. Use a flat pry bar to pry out roofing nails and remove shingles as needed.

Step 7

Slip the flange under shingles and felt at the top, and align its hole with the hole in the roof. Reinstall shingles around the flange and cut them to produce a 5/8-inch gap around the ring.

Step 8

Inside the attic, seal all the joints by driving sheet metal screws and wrapping the joints with duct tape.

Step 9

On the ceiling below attach the diffuser lens.

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