Covering a Skylight – Quickly, Cheaply, and Efficiently

One of the reasons why my husband and I fell in love with our home is the skylights! I’m a huge fan of natural light – I find that the amount of sunshine outside directly influences my mood.

That all said, there are some downsides to sunlights. Most of them are leaky which apparently is a pretty common problem. Also they let in sunlight! Which, duh, but there are some consequences of that we didn’t really think about. It’s wonderful in the living room and it’s even pretty great in my husband’s and my bedroom, it’s magical to look up at the moon at night, but we know it’s going to be a problem in the nursery.

Bright nursery
So cute right?? But so bright! No way can a baby sleep in there! Also so not done, but we’ll get to that.

After a bunch of research looking into how other people deal with their sunlights when they need to block the light, I couldn’t find anything that suited my needs which were:

  • Darkening
  • Easy to remove
  • CHEAP

Finally while we were setting up the crib, I looked up and though, “huh, why am I trying to block the light from in the room when I could block it from between the panes of glass?”

Open skylight

This is what the skylight looks like when it’s open. You can see that it’s fully enclosed with glass above it as well – to be honest I’m not sure why it opens at all. That said, it affords the opportunity to place something to block the light above the opening glass.

Also, yeah, gnarly up there… We scrubbed it clean when we moved in but it definitely needs a fresh coat of paint.

Materials:

  • Large piece of cardboard/foam board
  • X-Acto knife/Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • T-Square or L-Square (if available, if not you can use a sheet of regular paper to help make the right angles)
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes

Step 1: Measure the window

If you look at the window that’s opening down, you’ll notice that it’s framed in such a way that the frame sticks in (marked red) from the frame above (marked blue). This means that you can measure the inside of the upper frame (marked blue) and cut the cardboard to fit that and the edges of the cardboard will be covered by the lower frame (marked red).

Mine measured 36″ x 24″

How to measure the skylight frame

Step 2: Measure the cardboard/Foam board

Cardboard box

This is the box our baby’s mattress came in! I could only use one side, though, because the other side has a seam up the middle.

Making the corner square

This is what the T-Square or L-Square is for. You’ll want to make sure the corners of your cardboard cover are 90 degrees or it won’t fit right. If you don’t have one of these tools, place a piece of paper in the corner and then line the edges of the paper up with a ruler to get that crisp 90.

Taping together two pieces of foamboard

If you’re using foam board, odds are you’re going to need to tape two pieces together. If you do, use masking tape or some sort of paper tape to which paint sticks to well. That said, the light that shines through makes the seam quite visible which you’ll see later. I left my seam visible so that I could have a skylight cover that still let some light shine through, but if you don’t want any light, you could use tin foil to cover the back.

Protip: if you’re buying your foam board at Staples/Walmart/anywhere else, STOP! You can get foam board at the Dollar Tree for a buck a piece! PLUS it’s designed so that you can peel the paper off if you want which is great for things like model planes. I wasted so much money in college before I discovered this! 6 bucks for a piece of foam board? Sheesh!

Dollar Tree

Step 3: Cut out the cover

Cutting with the x-acto

Once you get it all measured, cut it out! I prefer an x-acto and I don’t like using a ruler. My method is to pull a straight line from my shoulder and to only mark the line the first time, cut through the second time. Every time I try to cut all the way through the first time I end up messing it up.

Protip: Don’t measure two covers if you want two just measure one then use the first one as a pattern for the second!

(not so pro)tip: If I don’t have a cutting mat, I’ll cut on a carpet. It’s not exactly a pro move, but if you need a backup plan then here it is! I’ve never managed to press down hard enough to cut the carpet – though I’ve never tried…

Step 4: Paint beautiful things

Do a base layer first, then add prettiness on top. These pictures are from after the base layer – you can see the night sky curling up and I’ll talk about that in a moment. The day sky is on the foam board and the night sky is on the cardboard.

Also, I started painting outside because it was GORGEOUS but the sun kept drying my paint on me! 😂I had to move my operation inside.

Step 5 (probably): Flatten the artwork

Curled up cover

Odds are you’ll suffer some major curling as well, but it’s an easy fix. I had to do this with both my cardboard and foam board covers.

What Not to Do: Stomp on it until it’s flat. It’ll snap or crease!

Grab yourself a cup of clean water with a big clean brush. Flip the work over and generously paint the clean water on, rewetting the surface as you go. As you do this you’ll notice the art get a little more pliable when you gently push down on it. Slowly push the art down as you reapply water until it’s flat, then cover it with some weights. Once the weights are on, give it one more coat of water.

That’s it!

The cardboard filters out almost all sunlight whereas the foam board lets some in.

These are HARD to get pictures of because of the window in front! The look great in the room, though. If you look closely at the first picture of the clouds, you can see where I taped the foam board together. It’s not great, but there isn’t a way around it without purchasing a larger size of foam board and ain’t nobody got money for that.

I’m debating getting some cheap LEDs to mount above the clouds so we can turn them on at night and it becomes an awesome nightlight…

I actually poked some holes in the night sky in hopes that a few pinholes of light would shine through and look like stars! It kinda worked, but I kept the holes pretty tiny so as not to let in too much light so they’re hard to see. If/when I make another one I’ll try some big pinholes for stars!

Overall this was 100% the best solution for me and I hope it works for you too! Happy crafting!!

I hope you enjoyed this DIY – don’t hesitate to let me know if I wasn’t clear on anything and I’m also always up for comments/suggestions!

Warmly,

EGinny