A Real Skylight
Things got real when I cut a large hole (roughly 22"x39") in the ceiling of the new van, instantly decreasing the value with a single stroke of the jig saw blade. But not to worry, something awesome was going to fill that void, a Velux vented skylight. I scanned the interweb but could not find anyone else who has done this, but was so psyched on the idea that I just went for it anyways. Last time around I put a skylight in the Econoline and it was one of the better elements of the van interior. I really like this source of natural lighting, and rather than having another side window which eliminates the potential to build off of that space, the ceiling seems like the perfect place for an added window.
The Velux skylight is a huge upgrade compared to the 1/4" plexiglass cut to size that I used in the Econoline. First of all, it is a REAL window, like people use in a house...but, in a van. It is insulated and can be opened (and has a bug screen). This is a huge plus, allowing us to really air the van out in the summer and when cooking. You can also attach a blind to it so no need to fabricate a closure like I did on the previous attempt.
Here's how I did it:
- Velux Deck Mounted Skylight
- Velux Flashing Kit
- EternaBond RoofSeal 4" Tape
- Butyl Tape
- Self taping screws
- Self Leveling Lap Sealant
- Jigsaw w/Sheet Metal Blade
- Power Drill
- Caulk Gun
- Measuring Tape
- Square/Straight Edge
- Box Cutter/Scissors
Make a Template & Trace Cut Out Pattern
Using the cut out size stated in the Velux Skylight directions I made a template out of a piece of cardboard. This will make things "fool proof" (assuming you made the correct template) when making the cut. It also allows you to easily line up the skylight to the center of the van. I traced the corners of the template at the desired skylight position on the inside of the ceiling; the inside because this way you can see where the support beams are located. I chose to install the skylight at the front of the van. This is where the sofa/bed and the kitchen will be located; for looking at the stars while sleeping and for supplemental venting purposes while cooking.
Drill Holes & Make Cut
Drill four holes using a bit that will be large enough to allow for space to get the jigsaw started. Using a straight edge connect the holes with a sharpie/pencil. Now with a proper guide to go off of, make the cut using a jigsaw with a metal blade. Go slow to eliminate vibrations in the sheet metal. Having someone to hold up the cut out will be helpful, especially when cutting the final side.
Fill Gaps, Seal, & Secure with Screws
I stacked layers of butyl tape to fill the gaps on the roof of the van. The skylight has a nice foam material along the entire edge so I also put down a layer of Dicor sealant. This was the first of three layers of waterproofing. Once in place, I drilled pilot holes and secured the skylight down with self taping screws adding a wooden frame on the inside around the perimeter of the skylight. This will help create a solid seal, and also provide material to work with when completing finish work.
Add Flashing Kit
As much as I didn't want too, I gave in and bought the "optional" flashing kit. Without it, a portion of the wooden frame is left exposed making it difficult to fully seal off the window. This kit is meant to be installed on a shingled roof, but with the addition of some EternaBond RoofSeal tape for added insurance I was able to make it work.
I basically followed the instructions provided with the flashing kit, but when it was time to nail the side panels on that obviously was not going to work. Instead, I aligned them as instructed and taped them on with the EternaBond. None of this is going to be covered under Velux's 10-year No Leak warranty or anything, but I feel it is pretty solid and don't expect any leaks.