​​How to Replace a Skylight Dome – 2023 Updated Guide

Imagine waking up on a blissful morning, stretching under a canopy of blue sky, as the gentle rays of sunlight dance across your face. The world feels alive, and you can’t help but smile.

But then, as you glance upward, you notice the skylight dome above you, once a portal to heavenly brightness, has lost its luster.

Skylight domes are often used in residential structures, as well as in commercial buildings. They are designed to allow daylight to pass through, illuminating the interior space and reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Whether you’re dealing with a cracked dome, excessive condensation, or simply looking to upgrade, this 2023 updated guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions and essential tips to ensure a successful replacement.

How to Replace a Skylight Dome?

In this section, I will show you how to replace a skylight dome, providing step-by-step instructions to ensure a successful and safe replacement process.

StepsEstimated Time
Ensure Safety15 minutes
Remove the Retainer Frame20 minutes
Measure the Existing Dome10 minutes
Start the Replacement Process20 minutes
Remove Trims15 minutes
Remove the Existing Skylight30 minutes
Prepare for Replacement10 minutes
Clean the Skylight Frame20 minutes
Replace with the New Dome15 minutes
Replace Trims20 minutes
Lay Outer Dome and Add Sealant30 minutes
Reinstall the Retainer Frame20 minutes
Clean Up and Final Inspection15 minutes
Dispose of Old Materials and Tools10 minutes

Step 1: Ensure Safety

  • Put on safety goggles to protect your eyes from debris or falling objects.
  • Wear work gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges or potential cuts.
  • Consider wearing a hard hat to protect your head, especially if there is a risk of falling objects.
  • Choose a ladder that is appropriate for the height of the skylight and can safely support your weight.
  • Ensure the ladder is placed on a stable and level surface.
  • Set up the ladder at a safe angle, following the manufacturer’s instructions for proper ladder setup.
  • Have someone hold the ladder or use ladder stabilizers if necessary to provide additional stability.
  • Clear the area around the skylight of any potential hazards or obstacles.
  • Inform others nearby that you will be working on the skylight to prevent accidental disturbances or injuries.

Required Tools

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Hard hat
  • Ladder appropriate for the height of the skylight
  • Ladder stabilizers (if necessary)

Step 2: Remove the Retainer Frame

  • Identify the retainer frame that holds the skylight in place. It is typically located around the edges of the skylight.
  • Use a screwdriver or appropriate tool to unscrew the retainer frame. The specific type of screwdriver required may vary depending on the fasteners used.
  • Examine the retainer frame and identify the screws or fasteners that secure it to the skylight frame. These screws are usually located along the sides of the retainer.
  • Use the appropriate screwdriver to carefully loosen and remove the screws or fasteners holding the retainer frame.
  • Start at one end of the retainer frame and gradually work your way along the side, removing each screw or fastener.
  • Once all the screws or fasteners are removed, gently pull or slide the retainer frame away from the skylight frame.
  • Take caution not to force or damage the frame or surrounding components during removal.
  • Place the removed retainer frame in a safe location where it won’t be damaged or misplaced.
  • Depending on the skylight replacement process, you can reuse the retainer frame if it’s still in good condition.

Required Tools

  • Screwdriver or appropriate tool

Step 3: Measure the Existing Dome

  • Obtain a tape measure or ruler that is long enough to measure the width and length of the skylight dome accurately.
  • Locate the widest point of the existing dome.
  • Place one end of the tape measure or ruler on one tip of the dome.
  • Extend the tape measure or ruler across the width of the dome to the opposite tip.
  • Read the measurement where the other tip of the dome aligns with the tape measure or ruler.
  • Take note of this measurement, as it represents the width of the existing dome.
  • Identify the longest point of the existing dome.
  • Repeat the measuring process.
  • Double-check the measurements to ensure accuracy and avoid any potential errors.
  • These measurements will be crucial when selecting the correct replacement dome.

Required Tools

  • Tape measure or ruler

Step 4: Start the Replacement Process

  • Locate the rivet that holds the existing skylight in place.
  • The rivet is a metal fastener that may be found at one or more points securing the skylight to the frame.
  • Obtain a power drill with the appropriate drill bit to match the size of the rivet head.
  • Ensure you have a firm grip on the drill and wear protective goggles for safety.
  • Place the correct drill bit inside the chuck and tighten it down..
  • Ensure the drill is set to rotate counterclockwise (reverse mode).
  • Place the drill bit at the center of the rivet head.
  • Ensure the drill bit is perpendicular to the surface of the rivet.
  • Apply gentle pressure and start the drill in reverse mode.
  • Slowly drill into the rivet head, maintaining control and avoiding excessive force.
  • Continue drilling until the rivet head is fully drilled out and separates from the skylight frame.
  • Once the rivet head is detached, carefully pull or pry out the remaining rivet shank from the skylight frame.
  • Discard the removed rivet or set it aside for proper disposal.
  • If additional rivets are securing the skylight, repeat the drilling process for each rivet until they are all removed.

Required Tools

  • Power drill
  • Drill bit matching rivet head size
  • Safety goggles

Step 5: Remove Trims

  • Examine the trims around the traditional skylight to understand how they are attached.
  • Note any screws, clips, or other fasteners that may secure the trims.
  • Depending on the attachment method, you may need a screwdriver, pry bar, or other suitable tools.
  • Ensure you have the appropriate tools for removing the trims without causing damage.
  • If the trims are secured with screws, use the appropriate screwdriver to unscrew them.
  • Turn the screw counterclockwise to remove it.
  • Set the screws aside in a safe place for later reinstallation.
  • If the trims are held in place by clips or other fasteners, use a pry bar or suitable tool to pry them away from the skylight frame gently.
  • Position the pry bar between the trim and the frame and apply gentle pressure to separate them.
  • Work your way around the skylight, prying off each trim piece.
  • If the trims are delicate or prone to damage, use caution when prying them off to avoid any cracks or breaks.
  • Place the removed trims safely so they won’t get damaged or misplaced.
  • If you plan to reuse the trims, handle them with care to prevent any bending or warping.

Required Tools

  • Screwdriver or appropriate tool
  • Pry bar or suitable tool

Step 6: Remove the Existing Skylight

  • Inspect the existing skylight to identify any remaining fasteners, attachments, or sealing materials that may be holding it in place.
  • If any screws, bolts, or other fasteners are visible, use the appropriate tool to detach them from the skylight frame fully.
  • Turn the screws counterclockwise to loosen and remove them.
  • Carefully remove any bolts or fasteners that may be securing the skylight.
  • Look for any sealing materials, such as caulking or adhesive, around the edges of the skylight.
  • If present, carefully cut through or remove the sealing materials using a utility knife or suitable tool.
  • With all fasteners and attachments removed, apply even pressure and start pulling the existing or broken skylight away from its position.
  • Use caution to avoid any sudden movements or excessive force that may cause damage or injury.
  • Place the removed skylight in a safe area where it won’t be damaged or pose a tripping hazard.
  • Take note of any cracks, damage, or other issues with the skylight for reference during the replacement process.
  • Remove any debris, old caulking, or adhesive residues from the frame to ensure a clean surface for the new skylight.

Required Tools

  • Screwdriver or appropriate tool
  • Bolts or fastener removal tool
  • Utility knife or suitable tool (for removing sealing materials)
  • Pry bar or suitable tool

Step 7: Prepare for Replacement

  • Ensure that the replacement domes have arrived and are ready for installation.
  • Double-check that you have received the correct size and type of domes for your skylight.
  • Unscrew the retainer frame along the side of the retainer to detach it from the skylight, as mentioned in Step 2 of the guide.
  • Carefully lift and remove the retainer frame from the skylight frame.
  • Set aside the retainer frame in a safe location where it won’t be damaged.
  • Once the retainer frame is removed, gently lift and remove the old domes from the skylight frame.
  • Take caution not to force or damage the domes or skylight frame during removal.
  • Place the old domes aside for proper disposal.
  • Note that the replacement domes have a protective blue film covering the surfaces of the top and bottom.
  • The film helps protect the domes from scratches and damage during transit and installation.
  • Carefully peel off the protective blue film from the top surface of each replacement dome.
  • Start from one corner or edge and gradually remove the film, ensuring it comes off completely without leaving any residue on the dome.
  • Dispose of the removed film properly.
  • It is important to leave the protective blue film intact on the bottom surface of the replacement domes for now.
  • The film on the bottom surface will help prevent any accidental scratches or damage during installation.

Required Tools

  • New replacement domes
  • Screwdriver or appropriate tool

Step 8: Clean the Skylight Frame

  • Prepare the necessary cleaning supplies, such as a soft brush or broom, a vacuum cleaner, a damp cloth, and a mild cleaning solution.
  • Ensure the cleaning solution is appropriate for the skylight frame material, such as glass, plastic, or metal.
  • Use a soft brush or broom to sweep away any loose debris, dust, or dirt from the skylight frame.
  • Pay attention to the corners, edges, and crevices where debris may accumulate.
  • If there are any small particles or hard-to-reach areas, use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to gently remove them.
  • Move the brush attachment along the skylight frame, suctioning away any remaining debris.
  • Moisten a clean, soft cloth with a mild cleaning solution.
  • Ensure the cloth is not overly wet, as excess moisture can seep into the skylight frame.
  • Gently wipe the skylight frame with a damp cloth, focusing on areas with visible dirt, stains, or old caulking.
  • Apply light pressure to remove any residue or grime on the frame.
  • Repeat as necessary until the skylight frame is clean.
  • If any old caulking or adhesive remains on the skylight frame, use a plastic scraper or a suitable tool to scrape it off carefully.
  • Take caution not to scratch or damage the frame surface while removing the old caulking or adhesive.
  • After cleaning, dampen a separate clean cloth with fresh water to rinse off any cleaning solution residue.
  • Wipe the skylight frame with a damp cloth to remove any remaining cleaning solution.
  • Finally, use a dry cloth or towel to dry the skylight frame thoroughly.

Required Tools

  • Soft brush or broom
  • Vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment
  • Damp cloth
  • Mild cleaning solution
  • Plastic scraper or suitable tool
  • Dry cloth or towel

Step 9: Replace with the New Dome

  • Take the new skylight dome and position it in the location where the old dome was removed.
  • Ensure that the dome is properly aligned with the skylight frame, with the correct orientation.
  • Carefully align the new dome’s edges with the skylight frame’s corresponding edges.
  • Ensure that the dome sits evenly and snugly within the frame without any gaps or misalignment.
  • Assess the placement of the new dome to verify that it fits securely within the skylight frame.
  • Confirm that the new dome’s dimensions match the old one’s dimensions, ensuring a proper fit.
  • If the new dome does not fit properly or has any alignment issues, carefully adjust its position within the skylight frame.
  • Ensure that all sides of the dome are evenly aligned and seated within the frame.
  • If the new dome is made of delicate material, such as glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate, handle it carefully to avoid any cracks or damage during the replacement process.
  • Once the new dome is properly aligned and seated within the skylight frame, press it down gently to ensure a secure fit.
  • Confirm that the dome is level and even, with no noticeable gaps or unevenness around the edges.

Step 10: Replace Trims

  • Examine the trims that were removed earlier to understand how they are attached and their original positions around the skylight dome.
  • Check the condition of the trims and ensure they are free from any damage or defects.
  • Take each trim piece and align it with its original position around the new skylight dome.
  • Ensure that the trims fit snugly and align properly with the edges of the dome and the skylight frame.
  • Depending on the attachment method used for the trims, follow the appropriate steps to secure them back into place.
  • If the trims were originally secured with anchors and screws, use the appropriate screwdriver to reinsert and tighten the screws.
  • If clips or other fasteners were used, carefully position the trims and snap them into place securely.
  • Once the trims are in place, visually inspect them to ensure they are aligned correctly and sit flush against the skylight dome and frame.
  • Confirm that the trims have no gaps, unevenness, or loose sections.
  • Gently press or apply light pressure to the installed trims to verify that they are secure and properly attached.
  • Ensure that the trims do not move or shift when pressure is applied, indicating a stable and secure installation.
  • Realign the trims and ensure they fit properly before re-securing them in place.

Required Tools

  • Screwdriver or appropriate tool
  • Screws (if trims were secured with screws)
  • Pry bar or suitable tool
  • Container for screws

Step 11: Lay Outer Dome and Add Sealant

  • Take the outer dome and ensure that it is clean and free from any dirt, debris, or protective film on both sides.
  • Carefully position the outer dome on top of the inner dome that is already in place.
  • Align the edges of the outer dome with the edges of the inner dome and the skylight frame.
  • To provide proper insulation and thermal performance, maintain an airspace of approximately 1 3/4″ between the inner and outer domes.
  • Measure and adjust as necessary to achieve the desired airspace.
  • Using a suitable roofing sealant or high-quality outdoor caulking, apply a continuous bead of sealant around the perimeter of the skylight dome where the inner and outer domes meet the skylight frame.
  • Ensure that the sealant is evenly applied and covers the entire seam.
  • With a caulk smoothing tool or a gloved finger, gently smooth and shape the applied sealant to create a neat and uniform seal.
  • Ensure that the sealant fills any gaps or spaces between the domes and the skylight frame.
  • Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove any excess sealant that may have spread beyond the intended area.
  • Wipe away any smudges or smears to achieve a clean and professional finish.
  • Allow sufficient time for the sealant to fully cure and create a watertight seal before exposing the skylight to weather conditions.

Required Tools

  • Outer dome
  • Roofing sealant or high-quality outdoor caulking
  • Caulk smoothing tool or gloved finger
  • Damp cloth or sponge

Step 12: Reinstall the Retainer Frame

  • Take the retainer frame and carefully position it back on top of the skylight domes and frame.
  • Ensure that the frame aligns with the edges of the skylight assembly and sits flush on the surface.
  • Match the screw holes on the retainer frame with the corresponding holes on the skylight frame.
  • Ensure that the holes are properly aligned to allow for easy insertion of the screws.
  • Insert the screws through the screw holes on the retainer frame and into the skylight frame using a suitable screwdriver.
  • Start by loosely threading each screw before gradually tightening them, alternating between screws to ensure even pressure distribution.
  • Don’t overtighten the screws, as it may damage the frame or cause misalignment.
  • Once all the screws are tightened, check the retainer frame to ensure that it is securely attached to the skylight assembly.
  • Wiggle or gently press on the frame to confirm that it remains stable and does not move or shift.
  • Adjust the frame’s position if necessary to achieve a uniform and visually pleasing appearance.
  • Tighten any loose screws and replace any missing screws to maintain a secure attachment.

Required Tools

  • Retainer frame
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver

Step 13: Rivet the Trims

  • Ensure you have the appropriate rivets, a rivet gun, and any additional equipment required for the riveting process.
  • Assess the trim pieces and identify the locations where the trims overlap or join together.
  • Determine the appropriate spots for placing the rivets to fasten the trims securely.
  • Use a drill to create pilot holes at the predetermined locations for the rivets.
  • The drill bit size should match the rivets’ diameter to ensure a proper fit.
  • Take a rivet and insert it through the pre-drilled hole from one side of the trim.
  • Ensure that the rivet’s shaft goes through both trim pieces that need to be fastened together.
  • Position the rivet gun on the exposed end of the rivet shaft.
  • Squeeze the rivet gun handle to engage the riveting mechanism and securely fasten the rivet in place.
  • Repeat this process for all the required rivets, ensuring they are properly seated and tightly secured.
  • Use a cutting tool or appropriate method to trim any excess rivet shaft protruding from the trims.
  • Ensure that the trimmed rivet ends are flush with the surface of the trims to prevent any sharp edges.
  • Check for any loose or improperly set rivets and make adjustments or replace them if necessary.

Required Tools

  • Drill with appropriate drill bit
  • Rivets
  • Rivet gun
  • Cutting tool

Step 14: Clean Up and Test

  • Carefully inspect the skylight area for any excess sealant or debris that may have accumulated during installation.
  • Use a clean cloth or sponge to gently remove any sealant smudges or residue from the surrounding surfaces.
  • Avoid disturbing or applying pressure on the sealant until it has fully cured to ensure optimal performance.
  • If your skylight has the capability to open and close, carefully test the opening and closing mechanism to ensure it moves freely and locks securely.
  • Monitor the skylight area during rain or wet conditions to check for any signs of water leakage.
  • If you notice any water infiltration, address the issue promptly by inspecting the sealant, trims, and skylight assembly for any potential gaps or areas of concern.
  • Look for any visible gaps, misalignments, or cosmetic issues needing further attention.
  • Tighten any loose screws, reapply a sealant if needed, or realign any components that may be causing functionality or aesthetic concerns.

Signs that Your Skylight Dome Needs Replacement

Skylight domes are a fantastic addition to any home or commercial space, providing natural light, ventilation, and a unique aesthetic appeal.

However, like any component of your property, skylight domes can wear out over time and may require replacement.

Cracks or Damage

One of the most obvious signs that your skylight dome needs replacement is the presence of cracks or noticeable damage.

Over time, exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as hailstorms or heavy winds, can cause the dome to weaken and develop cracks.

Additionally, falling branches or debris can impact the dome, leading to visible damage.

If you notice any cracks, chips, or holes in your skylight dome, it’s crucial to address them promptly to prevent water leaks and further deterioration.

Leaks and Water Damage

A leaking skylight is a clear indication that the dome requires immediate attention.

If you notice water stains on the ceiling or walls near the skylight, it’s a sign that water is penetrating through the dome and causing damage to the surrounding areas.

Leaks can result from cracked or worn-out seals around the dome or from a damaged dome itself.

Ignoring leaks can lead to further water damage, mold growth and even compromise the structural integrity of your property.

Therefore, acting swiftly and considering replacing the skylight dome if leaks are present is essential.

Yellowing or Discoloration

Skylight domes are typically made of materials designed to withstand prolonged sun exposure.

However, UV rays can cause the dome to turn yellow or become discolored over time. This discoloration not only affects the aesthetic appeal of your skylight but can also impact its functionality.

A yellowed dome indicates a loss in the dome’s clarity, reducing the amount of natural light that enters your space.

If you notice significant yellowing or discoloration, it may be time to consider a replacement to restore the skylight’s original beauty and functionality.

Decreased Energy Efficiency

Skylights are known for their ability to enhance natural lighting and reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.

However, an old or poorly insulated skylight dome can compromise the energy efficiency of your space.

If you notice a significant increase in your energy bills or a lack of temperature control near the skylight, it could be a sign that the dome’s insulation is no longer effective.

Upgrading to a new, energy-efficient skylight dome can help improve insulation, reduce energy consumption, and enhance overall comfort in your home or building.

Outdated Design or Style

While functionality and durability are key factors to consider when replacing a skylight dome, it’s also essential to consider the design and style of your existing dome.

Over time, trends and architectural preferences change, and an outdated skylight dome may no longer complement the aesthetics of your space.

Upgrading to a modern skylight dome can enhance the overall visual appeal and add value to your property, making it a worthwhile investment.

Bottom Line

Replacing a skylight dome may seem daunting, but with the right guidance and determination, you can successfully bring new life to your skylight and enhance the ambiance of your home.

By following the expert advice, practical tips, and step-by-step instructions I’ve provided, you can restore the radiance and functionality of your skylight, bringing back the joy of basking in natural light.


How often should skylights be replaced?

The lifespan of skylights can vary depending on various factors, such as installation quality and the material used. On average, a skylight can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years.

However, some homeowners choose to proactively replace their skylights every 10 years to ensure they always have the benefits of natural lighting.

What is a standard skylight size?

The standard size of rectangular fixed or vented skylights with flat tempered glass can range from 14 to 72 inches in width and 16 to 96 inches in length.

While the weight of skylights can vary, the average weight typically falls around 60 pounds, though some skylights can weigh up to 150 pounds.

These size and weight ranges provide flexibility when selecting a skylight that suits your specific needs and preferences.