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Skylights, Rooflights and Roof Windows

So you want to open up your ceiling for some natural light. Will it be a skylight, rooflight, or roof window? The process of deciding which skylight to install can be confusing for homeowners as they struggle to differentiate between these three options. Despite the fact that rooflights and skylights have their differences, the purpose of each is the same; to let more natural light into a specific room in the house.

Incorporating natural light into a room has several benefits. It improves the appearance of a space by illuminating its features, boosts the well-being of the people in it, and can save you on your energy bill. This guide is designed to help you understand the different types of rooflights and skylights and help determine which would be best for your home.

Is it a roof window, rooflight or skylight?

Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand what roof windows, rooflights, and skylights all mean. The terminology used to describe them can be a bit confusing or contrary at times. The use of inconsistent or inaccurate terminology is also fairly common, which makes things more confusing. 

In order to help clarify things, let’s look at each product type in turn.

Roof windows

Roof windows are much as they sound- windows installed into a roof. They’re a great option if you want to allow light and a flow of fresh air into your space.

Whilst visually similar to a skylight, a roof window tends to be bigger in size which gives a better view of the sky above, as well as allowing more light. Roof windows are also able to be opened and closed to allow air in, which is not usually the case with skylights that are fixed in place.

If you’re looking to install a roof window, bear in mind that there are a few regulations during their construction. According to the standard, roof windows should align with the surrounding roof and be installed in the same plane as it. In general, roof pitch should be at least 15°. The weatherproofing should be done using a flashing or skirt once they are installed. This makes sure that the window is safe to use.

Usually, tests will be conducted to assess how the roof window is able to withstand prolonged and heavy rainfall, the deflection of the glass, and checks for any air leakages to ensure the product does not trap moisture.


In some instances, ‘Rooflight’ has different meanings. On a flat roof, the word will refer to a glazed unit fitted out of plane with the tiles, while on a pitched roof, the phrase refers to a glazed unit that is installed out of plane with the tiles.

Upstands or kerb systems are commonly used on flat roof systems to support the rooflight and provide a weatherproof surface to attach any weathering. The upstand provides enough height to keep the rooflight watertight. Many manufacturers of weatherproofing systems require that rooflights be installed at a certain height to maintain their warranties.

They provide natural light as well as ventilation or access, and come in a variety of designs and styles. You can choose from frameless flushglaze rooflights that offer a minimal appearance and are often used to provide roof terrace access, as well as hinged rooflights, sliding rooflights and box rooflights.


What are skylights? That depends on who you ask. 

A skylight is also sometimes called a rooflight, and can be either a window or a fixed pane of glass. They function as a light-transmitting feature for daylighting and ventilation in roof space.

This is another generic term that manufacturers often use to describe a variety of different kinds of structures, including small-scale domestic units installed on traditional pitched roofs and larger bespoke glazed units installed on flat roofs and terraces.

Consumers sometimes get confused by this term, because the products it refers to may differ quite dramatically in size, functionality, and application. The term ‘skylight’ is usually applied liberally to the same constructions as rooflights.

Glass Roofs

Glass roof installations are a stylish solution to opening up and brightening any space. They’re ambitious constructions, but are particularly effective when trying to add natural light to basement floors, or below-ground living spaces. 

These decorative features are continuing to rise in popularity, with more and more installations each year. A glass roof can help a room feel more connected to the outside, with a good view of the clouds in the day and the stars at night. You might even see city lights, birds, or trees above you from inside. Some may enjoy experiencing the changing weather, with a relaxing tapping of rainfall over your head.

Whilst, here at Bespoke Frameless Glass, we don’t currently offer glass roofs, you might choose to consider our walk-on glass options which can be constructed both internally and externally. A walk-over glass lightwell is a gorgeous solution to brightening a dark space as well as providing a modern and stylish walkway with a view of below. This use of levels works wonders for making the most of your space in a way that looks good and makes sense.

Things to consider

When choosing between roof windows and rooflights (or skylights), the decision is usually straightforward: if it is a pitched roof, rooftop windows are the best option; if it’s a flat roof, rooftop lights are better options. However, there are more issues to take into account.

Ready-to-install designs vs customised

Many major national house builders have adopted roof windows as they are very popular and widely used. Roof windows are reliable, durable, and cost-effective. It is typically possible to buy them ‘off the shelf’ because they have standard size and specifications. 

They have one disadvantage, which is their flexibility – especially in regards to scaling. A roof window currently offers limited options if you need larger sections of glazing on your roof.

The shapes, sizes, specifications and functions of rooflights (or skylights) are much more diverse than those of windows. Their bespoke nature, however, makes them more expensive, and they usually require a lead time of several weeks due to their ability to be customised.

If you’re looking for a design that makes the most of your space and looks exactly as you’ve dreamed, it’s always worth finding the right constructors who can make your vision a reality.


Glass retractable roofs are one option, or if you need to access your rooflights safely, a hinged access rooflight or box rooflight can be installed to provide access. An open area glass roof can be a wonderful use of space if you meet the right regulations.

Frameless Glass Designs

There are also frameless designs for roof lights and roof windows, which means that when you look up at them from inside, you only see glass.  From the outside, these products appear quite different. Roof windows, which sit flush with the surface of the roof, are aesthetically pleasing as their lines are usually as clean and as pleasing to the eye as rooflights sometimes are.

The frameless option works well if you’re looking for a structure that blends seamlessly into  your existing architecture. No matter the style of the property, frameless glass is a subtle but stylish way of allowing light to enter a space.

What Bespoke Frameless Glass can do for your space 

Now you know more about the roof-lighting options for your space. If you’re looking to open up your space to natural light or air with one of these structures, what you need now is a top-notch installation company. 

If you’re ready to make an improvement, then why settle? Your space deserves a team that can make its potential become a reality. That’s what we do here at Bespoke Frameless Glass. 

We deliver quality constructions that will make your home feel brand new. We offer many different styles that can be altered to fit every need and aesthetic preference, as well as providing expert advice and years of industry experience.

We’ll help you find a lighting solution for your needs without breaking the bank or compromising quality. Frameless glass structures made with care by skilled craftsmen who take pride in their work are built to last.

Get in touch with Bespoke Frameless Glass today at + 0117 961 2709, or reach out online for a free quote and to learn more about how we can turn your vision into a reality.