Home>Discussions>BATHROOMS>Window or skylight for small bath?
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Window or skylight for small bath?

I want to get some natural light into my 8 x 8 bath/laundry room. The washer/dryer/water heater are in a 3 x 8' area with bypass doors. The actual bath is 5 x 8.

I'm torn between a fixed pane window in the alcove tub/shower surround (long narrow rectangle), which I would tile in; or a small tube-type skylight.

Which one would need less maintenance? I'm all about easy-to-clean these days! Would the window be more apt to get moldy? Water spotted from the shower, etc?

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

This is a hard one, but I prefer a window.

- a skylight involves cutting the roof, something that I don't like to do. If you have S tile roof, forget skylight.
- a skylight is stationary, can't be open to let fresh air in, which is important in a bathroom.
- a skylight is more difficult to clean.

On the other hand:

- a window will require more framing and exterior modifications than a skylight.

It's your call. And your money.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

I'm not concerned about it opening; the existing fan has been working well for that. I'm mostly concerned about maintenance. I do like look of a window, though.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

The tube-type skylight will provide a lot more usable light than the window will. Maintenance is easier than a traditional skylight, as the "inside" is only 8' above the floor rather than 10 or 12 feet or more. However, you still need to go on the roof periodically to clean the outside.

With the tube-type skylight, you'll probably find that you don't use the electric light at all during the day. With the window, you probably will use it.

Besides, the window will require modifying the wall framing and installing a header. While the sky-tube-light will require cutting a hole in the roof (which must be properly sealed), it won't require modifying any framing.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

While I don't like roof penetrations, I'm even less of a believer in bathroom windows most of the time. Of all the sill repairs I've done, at least a third were the bathrooms. And most of the time there will be privacy issues- why have a window with the curtains closed when you're using the room? Use frosted glass you say- why have a window you can't see out of?

I rehabbed a house with a small bathroom and a skylight some time ago. At first I didn't like it but it made a believer out of me while I worked in there. Almost never needed lighting in the daytime, no shadows on one side when looking in the mirror, and the natural light spread all over added a lot of visual warmth. And with bathrooms always having moisture issues (even when decently vented they are wetter) waterproof walls are easier to maintain than windows.

Sometimes windows may be the better option on bathrooms, but for me they are no longer my first thought.


Re: Window or skylight for small bath?


Years ago when I was buying homes, to rent, to rehab, to flip, they HAD TO HAVE windows in their bathrooms. No windows? I moved on to the next home.

Why? I hated fans.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

Well, I love skylight. I have sky light in my bathroom above the tub that gives an ethereal glow to the entire bath room. This is how we minimize the use of artificial lights and the energy to power them.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I've decided to go with the skylight.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

Oh how many skylight shafts I had to repair over the years!

The perfect storm:
- very cold climate with night temperatures below zero
- skylight faces east, where it rapidly defrosts when the sun comes up
- homeowner showers at night, steam freezes on skylight window

Skylights usually have a small trough at the bottom to catch minor condensation until it can evaporte. Under the perfect storm scenario above, nightime ice formations rapidly melt when the sun rapidly comes up and shines on the east facing skylight. Water runs down drywall and over a period of time deteriorates it. Painter has to climb up narrow light shaft to make repairs and paint with an oil paint to prevent further damage.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

We are in a mild climate (Pacific Northwest); the skylight would be on the west roof.

Re: Window or skylight for small bath?

Since you're looking at a tube-type skylight, the condensation issues should be minimized since the tube is enclosed by a lens at ceiling level. If it's gasketed, that will prevent shower steam from entering the tube. However, you will want to make sure the tube is well insulated from the cold attic.

I don't have any experience with the tube-type skylight. My concern is that if moisture DOES enter it, that it will cause corrosion of the highly-polished walls of the tube.

I, too, live in the Pacific Northwest. Anything you can do to increase natural light is a good thing -- the frequent cloudy days can get depressing!


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