What is the difference between a rooflight and a skylight? UK

Roofing_Farnborough Roof windows and skylights

Did you know that in the UK, rooflights and skylights are becoming more and more popular for increasing the amount of natural light in homes?

But what exactly is the difference between the two?

We will explain it to you.

We will discuss the definitions, design and installation differences, and considerations for UK homes.

By the end, you will have all the information you need to choose the best option for your home.

Let’s begin!

Now let’s take a closer look at what rooflights and skylights actually are.

Rooflights and skylights are both types of windows that are installed on the roof of a building to allow natural light to enter the space below. The main difference between the two lies in their installation method.

Rooflights are typically installed flush with the roof surface, while skylights are raised above the roofline. Rooflights are often used in flat or low-pitched roofs, providing a seamless and sleek appearance. Skylights, on the other hand, are commonly used in sloped or pitched roofs, adding architectural interest and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the building.

Both rooflights and skylights are designed to maximize the amount of natural light entering a space, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere.

Design and installation differences

When installing a rooflight or skylight, it is important to consider the specific design requirements and installation process of your building. Both rooflights and skylights serve the purpose of bringing natural light into a space, but they differ in their design and installation methods.

Here are the design differences to consider:


  • Generally installed flush with the roof surface, providing a sleek and seamless appearance.

  • Available in various shapes and sizes, including flat, domed, and pyramid.

  • Can be fixed or opening, depending on ventilation needs.


  • Typically installed on an inclined plane, allowing for better rainwater drainage.

  • Offer more design flexibility, with options for different frame materials like wood, metal, or uPVC.

  • Can be single or double glazed, providing insulation and energy efficiency.

In terms of installation, rooflights are usually easier and quicker to install due to their flush design, while skylights require more structural considerations. It is essential to consult with a roofing company to ensure proper installation and compliance with building regulations.

Natural Light and Energy Efficiency

You should regularly consider the impact of natural light on energy efficiency when choosing between a rooflight and a skylight.

Natural light has a significant influence on energy consumption in buildings, as it can reduce the need for artificial lighting and heating, leading to lower energy costs and environmental impact.

Both rooflights and skylights allow natural light to enter a space, but there are differences in their design that can affect energy efficiency.

Rooflights, also known as roof windows, are installed on the roof and provide a direct source of natural light.

Skylights, on the other hand, are installed on the ceiling and allow light to enter indirectly.

The choice between the two depends on factors such as the orientation of the building, the desired level of natural light, and the insulation properties of the materials used.

Considerations for UK Homes.

To ensure optimal performance and suitability for homes in the UK, it is important to carefully consider various factors when choosing between a rooflight and a skylight. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Building Regulations: Check if the selected rooflight or skylight complies with UK building regulations, including energy efficiency requirements and fire safety standards.

  • Glazing Options: Consider the type of glazing used in the rooflight or skylight. Double glazing with low-emissivity (low-E) coatings can help improve thermal insulation and reduce heat loss.

  • Solar Control: If your home is prone to overheating, consider rooflights or skylights with solar control glazing to minimize heat gain while still allowing ample natural light.

  • Noise Reduction: If your home is located in a noisy area, choose acoustic laminated glass to reduce external noise transmission.

  • Installation: Ensure that the installation process is carried out by a professional to ensure proper fitting and prevent potential leaks or structural issues.

  • Access and Ventilation: Depending on your needs, consider whether you require a rooflight or skylight that can be opened for ventilation or access to the roof.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Home

Before making a decision, consider your home’s unique needs and budget to determine whether a rooflight or skylight is the right choice for you. Both options offer their own advantages and can enhance the natural lighting in your home.

If you have limited space or a flat roof, a rooflight may be the ideal solution. These are typically installed flush with the roof surface and provide a sleek and modern look. Rooflights are available in various sizes and shapes, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your home’s architecture.

On the other hand, if you have a pitched roof and want to add a focal point to a room, a skylight may be more suitable. Skylights are often larger and can create a dramatic effect by bringing in ample natural light and providing stunning views of the sky above.

Ultimately, the decision between a rooflight and a skylight depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Consider factors such as aesthetics, functionality, and budget to choose the option that will best enhance your home’s ambiance and comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Rooflights and Skylights are designed to be weatherproof.

Rooflights and skylights in the UK in 2023 are designed to be weatherproof. They are made with materials that can endure different weather conditions, guaranteeing that no water or moisture enters your space.

Both options offer an efficient way to bring natural light into your home or building while maintaining a waterproof seal. Whether you opt for a rooflight or a skylight, you can trust that they will keep you shielded from the elements while illuminating your space with stunning natural light.

Can rooflights and skylights be installed in any type of roof?

Rooflights and skylights can be installed in various types of roofs. They both offer an excellent way to bring natural light into your space. Whether your roof is flat, pitched, or even curved, there are options available to suit your needs.

These installations enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property and provide a practical solution for increasing natural light and ventilation. So, regardless of the type of roof you have, you can enjoy the benefits of rooflights and skylights.

Do Rooflights and Skylights Require Regular Maintenance?

Regular maintenance is necessary for both rooflights and skylights to ensure their optimal performance and longevity.

It’s important to schedule routine inspections and cleanings to remove any debris or dirt that may accumulate on the surface.

Additionally, check for any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, and address them promptly.

Regular maintenance will help prevent costly repairs and ensure that your rooflights and skylights continue to provide natural light and ventilation efficiently.

What are the potential drawbacks or disadvantages of rooflights and skylights?

When it comes to rooflights and skylights, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider.

First, they can be prone to leaks if not properly installed or maintained.

Additionally, they may allow excessive heat or cold to enter your space, impacting energy efficiency.

Lastly, rooflights and skylights can be more expensive than traditional windows.

However, with regular maintenance and proper installation, these issues can be mitigated, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of natural light and ventilation.

Yes, there are building regulations and permits required for installing rooflights and skylights in the UK.

Before delving into the specifics of building regulations and permits for rooflights and skylights in the UK, it is essential to grasp the difference between these two terms.

A rooflight refers to a window that is installed on the roof, enabling natural light to enter the area below.

On the contrary, a skylight is a window or opening in the ceiling that allows light to come in from above.

Now that we have clarified this, let us examine the requirements and regulations concerning the installation of these architectural features in the UK.

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