Skoolie skylights are one of the most critical roof items to install before you put up the ceiling in a skoolie. They are also really useful for getting natural light during the day so you do not have to use so much energy.
A skylight is one of the best and easiest ways to replace the emergency hatch in your skoolie. We needed one to replace the emergency hatch and while we were at it, we thought it would be nice to have another toward the front above our skoolie couch/desk area.
The skylight replacing the hatch was going to open while the other one would stay still. We figured we would have the skylight that replaces the emergency hatch open (as it is right by the bathroom & kitchen); so that we can let humidity and cooking smell out while bringing fresh air in. Chris & I went back and forth between which kind of skylight to buy, plastic or glass, domed or straight. Ultimately, it came down to the decision of a domed RV skylight.
Update 8/20/20: We removed the hatch skylight from the emergency skylight and replaced it with a piece of plywood on top of the lower frame to mount a Dometic 7350 Fantastic vent fan. We couldn’t be happier with the change! The framing of the holes detailed in this article is holding up amazingly 2 years in with the liquid rubber painted on the exterior up on the roof.
How to Build Skoolie Skylights
To DIY your skoolie skylight, you will need
- A skylight. We bought this ICON 22″ x 22″ skylight for the emergency hatch and this ICON 22″ x 14″ skylight for the front skylight.
- drywall screws
- 1″ woodgrip screw with the washer built in
- 2 x 4s
- liquid nails
- 100% silicone
- caulk gun
- a crow bar to get the hatch out
- an angle grinder to trim down the excess metal
- something to cut the 2 x 4s with. We used a chop saw, but a circular saw or a table saw would work just fine.
Planning & Measuring
We tried to make this process as seamless as possible. Making two skylights, one that opens and the other not, we built everything at the same time.
We made two frames for the skylight that was going to open and one frame for the skylight that was not going to open.
The dimensions for the emergency hatch is 25″ x 26″ and we needed two of these frames.
Dimensions of the other skylight going above the couch is 14″ x 22″
We used the chop saw to cut the 2 x 4s precisely. We used the dimensions directly from the skylight minus the width of the 2 x 4.
Chris made sure to mark the 2 x 4s with the dimensions as he was cutting, so we did not confuse them for a wrong piece later.
They were organized by what frame they went to. 2 emergency hatch frames and one still frame.
Then, we put liquid nails on the shorter 2 x 4 and placed it on the longer 2 x 4 to glue the two boards together. Make sure everything is flush, then put two drywall screws halfway in to hold them in place. You will screw the nails fully in when all four boards are glued together. Then, we put liquid nails on, glued it down, and put two screws halfway in for the last shorter board. Lastly, we had the last longer board. We put liquid nails on it, glued it to the two shorter boards already assembled, and put two screws halfway in. Now, it is time to screw the nails in all the way. If you can, have someone stand on two of the corners of the frame while the other person drills the screws in fully. We did this to ensure it was going to be as straight as possible.
Repeat this process for however many frames you have.
We added the plastic skylight on top of one 14 x 22″ and one 25 x 26″ frame. The third 25 x 26″ frame was going to be directly mounted into where the hatch was.
The skylights came with pre-drilled holes. We put silicone where the bottom of the skylight was going to meet the wood frame, plopped it down, and then screwed it in. This is where we used the woodgrip screws with the washer built in.
Tip when screwing the skylight to the frame you just made:
Do not place these screws in order of them going around the rectangle. We strategically and sporadically placed these screws to ensure there would not be any awkward bubbles (to prevent water leaking). We put two screws in one corner, then two screws kitty corner from that, two screws in the next corner, and two screws kitty corner from that. And strategically so on, until you get all the holes done.
After Chris got the emergency hatch out, we tried to put the frame up. The frame was a little too big to put inside the emergency hatch hole, so we angle grinded the metal on the ceiling for the frame to fit. After checking and grinding, checking and grinding, we finally got it to fit snug!
Install Skoolie Skylights
We mounted the frame, put extra 2 x 4s of about the same length on the four sides of the frame, then we drilled the drywall screws from the frame to the extra 2 x 4s. Then, down from the roof into the extra 2 x 4s with the built in washer screws.
It was completely secure and sturdy.
After we screwed the skylight to the frame, we put waterproof flashing tape around it, then painted liquid rubber over that. We did a couple coats to ensure it would not leak!
Since the skylight that went in the emergency hatch can open, we had to ensure a leak proof skylight. We put rubber window seal on the bottom of the frame that has the skylight attached to it, and the top of the frame that is mounted to the ceiling.
After that, we put three hinges on the outside, all on the same side so we can open the skylight 90 degrees.
We wanted to let ya’ll know how we made our skylights. It was very inexpensive. The screws with the washer built in were $7.00, the other screws were $15.00 (we bought as many as we could since we will use them all in this build). 2 x 4s were about $2.75 / board. Liquid nails and silicone were about $5.00. The most expensive part were the skylights themselves, around $45.00 each.
We installed our skylights for around $160, which is way cheaper than purchasing a regular skylight.