The Comprehensive Guide to Roof Lanterns

6 min read Roof lanterns

Bring elegance and illumination to your home with contemporary roof lanterns. This practical architectural feature floods interiors with natural light while serving as a unique design focal point.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything about roof lanterns – from types and benefits to proper installation. Let’s shed some more light on these stylish skylights!

An Introduction

A roof lantern is essentially a skylight or rooflight that sits on top of a flat or sloped roof. It is typically made of glass or other translucent materials assembled within a glazed framed structure.

They serve both practical and aesthetic purposes. During the day, sunlight streams through the roof lantern, naturally lighting the space below. The glass panels also allow you to gaze at the sky and stars at night.

Architecturally, a roof lantern makes a dramatic statement on the roofline. The glass structure gives the appearance of a small greenhouse or conservatory atop the roof.

Roof lanterns are commonly incorporated into home extensions, orangeries, and conservatories to enhance illumination and ventilation. But they can be installed on any existing or new roof that requires more natural light.

lantern roof extension

The Appeal of Roof Lanterns: Pros and Cons

There are many benefits to installing a roof lantern in your home:


– Provides abundant natural light and illumination

– Allows you to enjoy views of the sky and outdoors

– Perfect for lighting enclosed spaces like stairwells

– Adds architectural interest and character

– Increases ventilation and air circulation

– Quick and easy to install

However, there are some potential downsides to consider:


– Can overheat interiors in summer if poorly insulated

– Risk of leaks if not properly installed and sealed

– Can be expensive, especially larger custom designs

– Ongoing maintenance required to reseal and clean glass

– Durability depends on quality of materials and craftsmanship

Generally, a well-built roof lantern enhances a home with daylighting, ventilation, and unique curb appeal. Weigh the pros and cons to decide if one suits your needs and budget.

Different Types of Roof Lanterns

There are several styles and designs to choose from when selecting a roof lantern for your home:

Flat Roof Lanterns

Ideal for contemporary homes, these minimalist lanterns have a sleek, low-profile appearance on flat roofs and roof decks. Durable thermally-broken aluminium frames support slimline glass.

Victorian Lanterns

Feature ornate ridge detailing, decorative finials and intricately shaped glass. Perfect for period homes or adding old-world charm.

Georgian Lanterns

Symmetrical glass roof domes with simple glazing bars, often inset within a larger skylight. Provides classic elegance, retaining traditional features.

Gable Lanterns

Designed to seamlessly integrate into gable roof ends. Triangle-shaped fully glazed panels maintain architectural harmony.

Custom Lanterns

Bespoke designs built to your exact specifications. Choose unique made to measure features, shapes, sizes, materials and detailing. Ideal for one-of-a-kind projects.

Aluminium Roof Lanterns

Thanks to the incredible strength of aluminium, not only are they supported extremely well against strong winds and heavy snow but their frames can be constructed to ultra-slim proportions in a contemporary design. This means they’re built to last, plus they boast of a stylish, modern design that allows maximum light to flood inside.

Roof Lanterns vs. Rooflights: Making the Right Choice

Rooflights (or skylights) and roof lanterns serve a similar purpose in providing overhead natural light. But there are some key differences:

Rooflights tend to have simple domed or flat glass fitted into an existing roof. They let in light but are relatively discreet.

Roof lanterns make more of a statement, protruding above the roofline. The double glazed top structure acts as an architectural feature while amplifying light exposure.

Factors like your home’s roof type, interior space and desired look will determine if a minimalist rooflight or prominent lantern is preferable.

You can also install both in different areas of the home to enjoy the unique benefits of each. Roof lights for general illumination, roof lanterns to spotlight living areas.

Sustainability and Innovation in Roof Lanterns

Recent advances have made roof lanterns even more energy-efficient and sustainable:

– Thermally broken frames prevent heat loss and reduce carbon footprint

– Low-E glazing options further improve thermal efficiency and insulation

– Some systems are made from recyclable and responsibly sourced materials

– Solar powered or LED lighting built into frames increase usability

Look for lanterns rated by energy efficiency standards like Energy Star or featuring smart home-integration. With thoughtful choices, roof lanterns can contribute to an eco-friendly, future-focused home.

interior view black ali roof lantern

Addressing Common Concerns: Roof Lantern FAQs

Some frequently asked questions about roof lanterns:

Are roof lanterns prone to leaking?

Not if properly installed and regularly maintained. Ensure a durable weather-tight seal between the lantern and roof. Check and reseal annually.

How much do roof lanterns cost?

It ranges from £800 – £4000 depending on size, materials, detailing and customization. Higher-end options can cost upwards of £20,000.

Do roof lanterns require planning permission?

Most standard lanterns in the UK can be installed without planning permission. But larger sizes, new-builds or conservation areas may need council approval.

How often should roof lanterns be cleaned?

Clean the glass 2-4 times per year. More frequent in areas with high dirt exposure. Use soft clothes and mild glass cleaners.

Do roof lanterns add value to a home?

Yes, by enhancing natural light and creating a focal point. Homebuyers view lanterns as attractive upgrades that increase desirability.

Adding a Roof Lantern to Your Existing Roof

Follow these basic steps for installing a roof lantern:

  1. Hire qualified professionals experienced in roof lantern fitting. Never attempt to install unsupported directly onto the roof.
  2. Determine the optimal mounting location based on room usage, views, orientation and structural soundness of the roof.
  3. Prepare the roof by creating a level platform and correctly sized opening for the base.
  4. Lift the roof lantern into place over the opening using proper equipment.
  5. Securely fix the base to the roof deck and waterproof all connections and seals.
  6. Finish off the interior sides with trim, plasterboard, paint as needed for a flush, polished look.
  7. Caulk and seal the exterior to prevent leaks. Provide adequate roof drainage around the lantern.
close up aluminium roof lantern

The Benefits of Glass Roof Systems

Combining roof lanterns with an integrated glass roof system or conservatory provides amplified illumination and unique design possibilities. Visually open up interior spaces to the skies above.

Some advantages of incorporating glass roofs:

– Unobstructed overhead views and sunlight

– Seamless sightlines merging indoors and outdoors

– Feels more spacious and airy

– Greater flexibility in layouts and shapes

– Can span larger open concept areas

– Endless options for customisation

Conclusion: Illuminating Your Home with Roof Lanterns

Letting in natural light from above transforms any space. With their elegance, sustainability and customisation potential for adding natural light throughout, roof lanterns create bright, beautiful, and breathtaking homes.

Ready to illuminate your interior? Contact our team at Sheerwater Glass today to start planning your perfect custom roof lantern design.

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