What is a Clerestory Roof?

By Katie Barton, Jun 18, 2023

The purpose of a clerestory roof is to maximize natural light and allow for ventilation. But, even though these roofs add to the looks and function of a home, they require a lot of maintenance.

Rustic Mountain Home with Clerestory Roof

A clerestory roof highlights a row of windows. Its design features a short vertical wall on top of a roof. The windows allow light to flood into a space while still providing privacy. And in some instances, clerestory roofs can increase the energy efficiency of homes.

Contemporary Home with a Clerestory Roof

Pros: Increased natural light while maintaining privacy – Since clerestory windows are on a roofline, they provide privacy while allowing natural light into the home. Ventilation – Some building designs incorporate these roofs to increase ventilation. Solar heat gains – If you live in a cold climate, clerestory roofs can help with solar heat gain when north-facing. Aesthetics – Clerestory roofs have a unique look.

Cons: Allow a place for heat to escape – these windows give heat a place to escape if not airtight. Obstructive light – If you live in an area with many streetlights, the light can enter your home at night. Hard-to-find window coverings – Finding window blinds or shades can be challenging. Upkeep –  the maintenance of keeping the windows in good condition, checking for air leaks, and replacing them when needed.

Clerestory Roof on a Modern Farmhouse