Skylight Blinds – Why Natural Light Is Important

The importance of skylight blinds in your home

City rowhomes can be dark

The city neighborhoods of Washington DC, such as Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle are highly desired, convenient places to live. Generally these neighborhoods are close to the CBD which makes it easy for the majority of residents to get to and from work without the hassle of having to make long commutes or drive a car into the city from outside. Many of the city residents can walk right to their job or use the public transportation system with just a few stops of a ride back and forth.  This makes for a better lifestyle, in many ways, but many of the thousands of rowhomes in the city have a dark and cavernous feel.  These buildings are like long caves where natural light and fenestration enters only in the front and rear of the building. 

We have talked about the rooftop side of skylights in the past.  Today we are talking more about the inside, the building interior side, of those skylights,  but you can reference some of our past related articles at of the following links:

FLAT ROOF CURB HEIGHT

FLAT ROOF CURB HEIGHT – PART II

Natural light has many positive health benefits

Adding light to an otherwise dark building has immense benefits ranging from improved ergonomics to environmental health.  Real daylight has many positive effects.  Some of the beneficial effects of daylight follow in the list below:

  1. Improves ergonomics 
  2. Balances natural circadian rhythms of the body
  3. Improves sleep patterns
  4. Reduces the effects of seasonal depression 
  5. Helps the body produce vitamin D and serotonin 
  6. Can reduce exposure to CFL’s and artificial light

This list is just an abbreviated summary.  There are actually many more positive effects related to exposure to daylight.  However, even though natural  light is good in many ways, it is rare in the tunnel-like buildings of Washington, DC.  

Skylights can help bring natural light into an otherwise dark building

Skylights are an easy solution, especially in critical areas such as inner rooms and above stairwells where the light can affect multiple floors of a building. However the solution that skylights offer isn’t free or perfect.  Skylights are expensive, not just to purchase, but also because the installation of a skylight generally requires coordination or modification to ceiling and or roof framing and flashing or termination of the roof membrane. It’s also common that the lightwell between the attic and the ceiling will need to be sealed with drywall and insulation. This issue of the lightwell through the attic can feel a bit like a hidden cost, but it’s sometimes less expensive to build a light well from a roof of a Washington,  DC rowhome to the top floor ceiling than it would be through a pitch roof attic.  Pitch roof attics are generally much taller, unless the area below the roof has been built with a vaulted ceiling in which case there will be no attic at all.  Vaulted ceilings and cathedral ceilings are built so there is effectively no attic space.  In the case of a vaulted ceiling, the ceiling is raised up into the space above the horizontal plane at the top of the walls.  Cathedral ceilings follow the underside of the ceiling joist or truss in parallel the pitched roof itself.

Skylights can make a house cook like an oven in the summer

The picture below shows a view of an old historic skylight from the inside of a house, looking upwards to the outside.

skylights in the summer 

Skylights do a terrific job of bringing light in from the outside, but they can cause the house to heat up and cook like an oven in the summer months.  

Skylight blinds

This particular type of historic skylight was originally vented, at the time of original construction, but since, now the venting features have been closed off to prevent animals and precipitation from entering the home from the outside.

The next picture below shows a different type of skylight, one where a horizontal accordion blind has been installed to reduce fenestration and thermal gain into the house in the hottest summer months.

historic skylight covered with blinds

A similar type of miniblind has been installed on a door, in the picture below, here more for privacy than shading, but this installation is a good point of comparison of the more common and typical type of miniblind in a vertical installation.

miniblind on a door

How To Maintain Your Roofing System

Smart proactive replacement, construction, upkeep and maintenance of low slope roof systems requires an enthusiastic interest and understanding of waterproofing principles and building science.   Here in Washington DC, historic and modern residential and commercial buildings are extremely expensive and the roof and related systems provide the shield that preserves the building. 

We encourage all of our clients, and all readers of this article and to our blog in general, to prioritize the value of quality construction and building maintenance, and develop a relationship with our company.  You can learn a lot more on our blog.  Feel free to check it out.  If you have questions about the roof and related systems of your building in Washington DC, fill out the webform below and drop us a line.  We will be in touch if we can help.

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