Who said windows are reserved only for walls? A clever way to brighten up your loft space and let in more natural light is with roof windows. They can also help you free up much-needed wall space or ventilate rooms. But how do you choose the perfect roof window for your new home?

First, you should sit down and think:

  1. What kind of windows do you need?
  2. What size do you want them to be?
  3. What type of roof window do you need?
  4. How do you want to open the roof window?
  5. What material should the roof window be made of (aluminium, timber or plastic)?
  6. How should a roof window work?

Roof windows can come in different sizes.

Depending on your needs and the architectural possibilities you have for your building, there is a massive range of roof windows to choose from typical and straightforward roof windows in universal sizes to huge skylights or custom made roof windows.

What type of roof window do you need?

Think about what rooms do you need roof windows for? Think about whether they will be your sole source of light or just to bring light into a room? For example, the living room is where you will spend most of your time, but it is also the showpiece of your home that you will present to guests. A skylight in an attic bathroom allows you to admire the starry sky during a relaxing bath, and it provides privacy and allows ventilation of the toilet.

What kind of roof windows did we choose for our house?

We installed four roof windows on the roof for our new house, although initially, we wanted six. Eventually, we decided to have roof windows in the three bedrooms in the loft and the bathroom. However, to save money, we decided not to buy and install roof windows in the attic.

Roof window in the kitchen

A roof window in the kitchen saves valuable space for cupboards, shelves and appliances. As in the bathroom, higher humidity can be a problem in the kitchen too. Therefore, when it comes to these rooms, it is worth deciding on the purchase of roof windows resistant to moisture.

Roof window in the bedroom

Bedrooms should be comfortable, relaxed and above all quiet, so when choosing a roof window, you should pay attention to noise reduction to ensure a peaceful sleep or minimise the sound of rain. It is essential to choose windows with the lowest possible heat transfer coefficient. It is also worth thinking about windows that provide comfort, i.e. reduce heat loss in winter and prevent overheating of the loft in summer.

Window purchase: How do I open the window?

Another thing to decide on when choosing roof windows is how to open them. There are several different options:

  • pivot roof windows,
  • Tilt-up roof windows
  • non-tilted roof windows
  • L-shaped roof windows
  • centre-pivot roof windows,
  • high pivot roof windows

The way they open affects the comfort of use. Rotary roof windows are most commonly bought as they rotate by 180 degrees and are therefore easy to keep clean. Advantages of OptiLight windows

Roof window opening system

Some people appreciate the reliability of manually operated windows, while others prefer electrically operated ones. It is also possible to buy rain sensors so that the roof windows automatically close when it rains.

Many people choose the environmentally friendly, reliable and easy-to-operate manual roof window because the environment and lower electricity bills are important.

But fans of technological innovations will opt for electrically opened roof windows that can be easily operated by remote control; a switch mounted in the wall, or an app on a smartphone. Although electrically opening windows are more expensive, they are a great choice if your roof window is in a hard to reach location.

Triple-glazed roof windows

There is a choice of different types of glass that can improve the performance of roof windows. Triple glazed roof windows will be best as they reduce the amount of heat lost and ensure maximum energy efficiency.

Noise reduction roof windows

There are also noise reducing glazings. Although manufacturers recommend these for people living in urban areas, it is essential to have a comfortable and quiet home and minimise outside noise.

What is the U-factor of roof windows?

All windows, including roof windows, have a heat transfer value for the whole window (frame, frame and glass) expressed in U. The lower the U value, the more energy-efficient the window.

Wooden or PVC roof windows?

The type of finish on a roof window will affect the appearance and practical considerations, such as protecting the window from moisture.

Traditional timber is not only natural but always looks great and is a popular choice for loft bedrooms. Pine slope windows are neutral and fit in with most interiors.

You can also paint wooden pine roof windows white. Then they are elegant and straightforward, and the white surface reflects light and brightens up the interior.

Wooden-polyurethane roof windows

A Wooden-polyurethane roof window is a wooden window coated with a layer of polyurethane in white or black colour, which does not require any additional maintenance and is perfect for rooms with higher humidity, such as the kitchen or the kitchen bathroom.

PVC roof windows

Durable, easy to maintain and moisture resistant are plastic roof windows. They will be slightly colder due to the steel insert in the frame, and the thermal insulation value of the window will therefore be lower. They are more resistant to moisture and water and have the disadvantage they cannot permanently be installed, which I will discuss below (in this post).

What size roof windows do I need?

Another criterion we take into account is the size of the windows. The larger the window you install, the more natural light you gain in your home. We trusted the architect who designed our house, and however, we found out from the company where we bought the windows that it is not always possible to install the windows drawn in the house design. As I have heard many times during the building process, “paper can do anything,” and when installing windows, there are many factors to consider to get them right.

Where should a roof window be located?

When it comes to location, it’s always worth trusting the experts. The site manager and the roof window installation company have advised us that they cannot be installed symmetrically to the position of the dormer, as this would disturb the roof trusses. This could affect the roof structure.

What colour should I choose for my roof window?

When buying windows, you also consider their colour. Darker coloured roof windows will heat up more in the sun than white windows. In addition, temperature changes will contribute to the deformation of wooden window frames. Therefore, when choosing wooden roof windows, you should leave a gap between the window and the roof during installation.

Roof windows are windows built into the roof of your house. They can open or not, and they are a great way to provide light and improve air circulation in the loft space. Ventilation of the house is essential because it helps reduce the level of moisture and pollutants in the air and prevent the appearance of mould. In addition, it influences the quality of air and, as a result, increases the comfort of living.

If you want to build a warm and comfortable house, which will be pleasantly cool in the summer and cosy and warm in the winter, you need to take care of its thermal comfort. To do that, roof windows with energy efficient glazing are the best choice. Thanks to them we can improve thermal comfort in the house. But acoustic insulation is equally important, as the noise coming from behind the windows can cause stress and fatigue. Therefore, it was essential for us to choose roof windows with high acoustic properties, which will reduce noise nuisance.

Initially, the architect suggested that we should have six roof windows in our new house. However, once the house was built, we realised that the attic was a small space, and to save money during the construction of the house, we decided not to have two roof windows in this room. So three roof windows were installed in the three attic bedrooms and one in the attic bathroom, and they are each 78 x 118 in size.

In the end, we chose wooden roof windows from Fakro. Although we initially wanted to buy plastic roof windows, we tried to match external blinds to the roof windows somewhere in the back of our minds. The idea was to keep comfortable during the hot summer months. Many friends tell us that the loft gets so hot that it is impossible to sleep at night.

In connection with this, their manufacturer suggested that in the case of plastic roof windows, the warranty on the windows would be voided after the installation of roller blinds (as during the installation of roller blinds for these windows, a hole had to be drilled in the window frame which would facilitate the control of the blinds). The guarantee for roof windows when installing external roller blinds remains only when purchasing wooden roof windows.

Therefore, the decision had to be changed. We bought three wooden roof windows for the attic bedrooms and one wooden polyurethane roof window for the bathroom. Each of them has a bottom opening because we have a high knee wall, and additionally because of my lower height makes it easier to open, close, and clean the windows.

And so we bought wooden roof windows with the following parameters:

  • wind load resistance/class: C5 (1)
  • Snow load resistance: 4H-10-4H-10-4H (2) external toughened glass
  • reaction to fire: D-s2, d2
  • external fire performance: npd (3)
  • watertightness: uncovered (A) E900
  • impact resistance/class: 3- 450 mm
  • load capacity of safety devices: pass (4) threshold value
  • acoustic properties: [dB] 33 (-2;-6)
  • thermal transmittance of the window: Uw [W/m² K] 0.97 (6)
  • solar radiation factor: g 0.53
  • light transmission rate: tv 0.73
  • air permeability / class: 4
  • year of introduction: 2014
  • declaration of performance: A40/CPR/14351/19 04.02.2019

And external blinds for roof windows in our house have parameters:

  • wind load resistance/technical class: 6
  • year of introduction: 2007
  • declaration of performance: D01/CPR/13659/18 10.07.2019

How much do roof windows with external blinds cost?

4 x FTP-V U4 profile roof window: 3 painted with clear lacquer, 1 wood-polyurethane. Each with automatic V40P ventilator, with super-energy-efficient triple glazing packet £250 x 4 = £1000;

4 x external roller blind for roof windows £210 = £840

Roof windows with blinds in the new house. What next?

A few more months of rest ahead of us. The electrics and plaster are laid, the plumbers are just finishing laying the gas and plumbing. We have planned to pour the floors on the ground floor and the attic at the end of October. The garage door will be installed later. We still need to think about levelling our plot around the house. Perhaps we will be able to spread the soil this year. Then it’s time for a breather, time to specify the interior fittings such as bathroom tiles, kitchen tiles and tiles cut from an old, pre-war demolition brick for the living room wall, wall colours and panelling. In the meantime, a built-in kitchen project and a fireplace project in the living room have been created. The following work is tentatively scheduled for February 2020, and this is to be insulating the loft.