How to install a Solatube skylight: Mark and cut the hole in the roof and install the skylight flashing, dome and light tube. This project is continued from How to Install a Solatube Skylight – Part 1.

Solatube Roof Installation

The screw that driven through the roof deck from inside the attic is located and a circle drawn in crayon using the Solatube flashing as a guide. Carefully observe the Solatube installation instructions to cut the hole 1/2 inch larger than the marked circle.

A 1/2 hole is drilled through the roof deck at the 7 o’clock position to start the saw blade. Take care not to cut along the circle, but 1/2 inch outside the circle.

Solatube Roof Installation: Center Screw and Circle Drawn on Roof

Solatube Roof Installation: Center Screw and Circle Drawn on Roof

The hole in the roof is cut with a sabre saw. Note to self: bring extra saw blades because the gravel shingles dull blades very quickly. I went through two (2) wood blades cutting this hole.

Hole Cut in the Roof for the Solatube Skylight

Hole Cut in the Roof for the Solatube Skylight

I’m missing a couple photos for the next steps due to the difficulty of working on the steep roof. For additional installation photos, see this excellent tutorial at deanwolf.net.

Install the Solatube Flashing

Per the Solatube installation instructions, use a pry bar to break the glue tabs of the shingles from the mid-point to the top of the hole, removing roofing tacks and staples as needed. The top half of the flashing will slide under the shingles but on top of the roofing felt. The shingles also need to be cut back about 3 inches from the mid-point and along the top arc to make room for the curb of the flashing.

Installation Tips:

Before applying roof sealant to the underside of the flashing base, do the following:

1) Dry fit the flashing to ensure the path is clear under the shingles and the shingles are cut back enough to center the flashing over the hole.

2) Test fit the top tube assembly to verify clearance through the hole in the roof and adjust the flashing position if needed.

3) Mark the bottom edges of the flashing on the roof with a crayon to quickly and precisely realign the flashing for final installation after the roof sealant is applied.

A bead of GeoCel® 3300 Polyurethane Sealant that came in Solatube kit is applied with a caulk gun to the underside of the flashing. The GeoCel product is “Miami-Dade County approved for hurricane-tough adhesion”.

Solatube Roof Flashing: Geocel 3300 Polyurethane Sealant

Solatube Roof Flashing: Geocel 3300 Polyurethane Sealant

The Solatube flashing is installed and fastened with eight 2 inch screws. The head of each screw head is sealed with the GeoCel 3300 roof sealant. I also applied a bead of caulk along the outside edge of flashing and underneath the shingles.

Solatube Roof Flashing Installed with Screws and Roof Sealant

Solatube Roof Flashing Installed with Screws and Roof Sealant

Next the top tube assembly is fitted and the adjustable knuckle rotated to align with the bottom tube assembly in the bedroom ceiling.

Installation Tip:

An “Attic & Weep Seal Kit Instructions” in a separate package from the main instruction booklet. The foam attic seal must be inserted into the rim of the top tube assembly at this point before fastening the four screws. I discovered this package after I’d already come down from the roof. I had make another trip onto the roof, remove the dome and top tube assembly to install the foam seals.

Remember to peel off the protective plastic liner inside tube before installing the dome.

Solatube Top Tube Assembly Installed and Fastened with 4 Screws

Solatube Top Tube Assembly Installed and Fastened with 4 Screws

The fully assembled Solatube 290 DS (14 inch) skylight.

Solatube Dome, Top Tube and Flashing Installed on Roof

Solatube Dome, Top Tube and Flashing Installed on Roof

This is the top- and bottom tube assemblies at this stage of the project. The bottom assembly is only temporarily installed such that the knuckle on the top assembly could be adjusted.

Solatube Installation: Top and Bottom Tube Assemblies

Solatube Installation: Top and Bottom Tube Assemblies

The smaller end of the 16 inch extension tube is inserted inside the bottom tube assembly and taped. Next, the expansion joint seal is taped to the end of the extension tube as shown below. The expansion joint seal is a single-sided tape with a brush-like material on the outer surface. The purpose of the expansion joint seal is to seal out bugs and dust when the bottom tube is inserted into the roof top tube assembly. The bottom tube assembly is test fitted with the top tube in the roof and the knuckle rotated to achieve proper alignment. (I didn’t need the second 16 inch extension tube that came with the kit.) Finally, the bottom assembly inserted through the ceiling into the top tube at the roof and fastened to the drywall ceiling using the built-in “old work” style mounting screws and wings.

Solatube: Bottom Tube, 16" Extension Tube with Expansion Joint Seal

Solatube: Bottom Tube, 16″ Extension Tube with Expansion Joint Seal

The glazed diffuser lens simply snaps in place. This photo was taken at night because it’s too bright to photograph it during the day.

Solatube Skylight - Glazed Diffuser Lens

Solatube Skylight – Glazed Diffuser Lens

The Solatube 290 DS (14 inch) at work in the morning. The photo taken at 9AM doesn’t quite convey the full brightness the skylight brings to the entire room. I’m very pleased with the improvement!

Solatube Skylight Peformance at 9AM

Solatube Skylight Peformance at 9AM

The neat thing is at 4PM the skylight produces strong sunlight because I positioned the dome reflector to face southwest to capture the afternoon sun at a time when it doesn’t shine in the windows.

Solatube Skylight Peformance at 4pm

Solatube Skylight Peformance at 4pm

You can just see the Solatube skylight between the dormers in this photo. The ladder isn’t for getting on the roof, rather it’s to retrieve items I’d dropped from the rain gutter! Working with a helper on the ground, I used a rope and 5 gallon plastic bucket to ferry tools and materials from the driveway to the roof.

Solatube Skylight Between the Dormers

Solatube Skylight Between the Dormers

Solatube Installation Advice

  • Solatube Skylight – a high quality and easy to install product.
  • A good project for the Do-It-Yourself if working on a low pitch roof.
  • If working on a steep and dangerous 10/12 pitch like mine, I’d hire a professional.
  • My poor-man’s roofing shoes worked great, but only for casual work. The foam soles were nearly worn out after the job. Without them, I could not have climbed the roof.
Poor Man's Roofing Shoes worn out after One Job

Poor Man’s Roofing Shoes worn out after One Job

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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