If you’re not familiar with the term, roof lanterns are triangular raised windows that look similar to glass pyramids. They’re sometimes confused with skylights, which are closer to regular windows and fit within the roof's structure. Roof lanterns and skylights are closely-related, and both are intended to catch light from above, but they’re not quite the same. We supply skylights here at Alufold Direct and recommend checking out their product page if interested.
Roof lanterns have existed for centuries and were first developed during the middle ages. One of the oldest examples is on the Florence Baptistery in Italy, which was constructed between 1059 and 1128. They originally appeared on Cathedrals, but by the 16th century, they became popular with orangery owners. As their name suggests, orangeries were used for growing citrus fruits, so lanterns were ideal for maximising the sunlight.
Renaissance-era roof lanterns were usually made with timber, but this was gradually replaced with metal during the Victorian period. The basic design has remained relatively unchanged since then, and modern roof lanterns don’t look drastically different from their earlier forebears.
Traditional, Victorian-style roof lanterns are still widely used across Britain, albeit with modern upgrades. The materials are more robust and less prone to leaks, while additions like electric openings make them easier to operate. Slimline roof lanterns are common too, especially in larger, rectangular-shaped rooms. They’re sleek and slender, with minimal sightlines and more glazing, offering better views of the sky overhead. The chunkier bars and supports of the older designs have fallen out of fashion, and homeowners are more interested in increased glass surface areas.
You can read more about the different types of roof lanterns in this article.