Since we're on the topic, we might want to discuss what to do if you get on top of a layer and it closes up under you, leaving you "trapped on top". This happened to a guy I know not long ago, he was able to proceed on course and find a hole to descend through, but he was over 100mi on top. He is a Sport Pilot. Here is my strategy:
1) Evaluate fuel: how much time do you have to solve the problem? How far can you go?
2) Evaluate the weather behind. If it's solid under you and for the foreseeable distance ahead, your best option is often to turn around. After all, you got up there somewhere behind you...
3) If you have turned around or proceeded ahead looking for a hole and can't find one, contact ATC and let them know you are a VFR pilot on top of a layer with no good way to get down. They can vector you to better weather or otherwise assist in descending through the layer. If you are low on fuel or conditions are worsening, declare an emergency to make sure ATC knows things are getting dire. Don't hesitate to declare if you need to -- I have never heard of anybody getting in trouble for declaring an emergency. You've made an honest mistake, just solve the problem.
4) You will need to evaluate the conditions below the layer, with ATC's help and/or through AWOS/ATIS reports. If you have sufficient ground clearance under the layer, you might have to descend through the clouds at some point. If your airplane doesn't have any kind of attitude indication (my acquaintance didn't!), then you want this to be an absolute last resort. Ditto if conditions are cold and icing is a possibility. I'd rather continue a long distance over the top than descend through, if necessary. Luckily our CTs hold a lot of fuel and are efficient in fuel burn.
5) If a descent through the layer is required, let ATC help you find the best place to do it. If you have an autopilot, use it! Let the AP make the descent while you watch the instruments. The AP doesn't get confused or disoriented, though you have to monitor it throughout the descent and cross-check against your attitude indication, airspeed, inclinometer, and vertical speed to make sure the AP is doing what you intend it to do. Without an AP you have to make the descent by hand, and you have to trust your instruments over your limbic system. This is a true emergency and very dangerous for a VFR pilot. Stay in contact with ATC throughout the descent and let them know when you break out.
6) Consider the BRS, if so equipped. If at any point the situation deteriorates beyond your ability to effectively deal with it, or control is lost or in question during the descent, it's probably time to ride the silk elevator. This is a much safer option that continuing to fly the airplane beyond your capabilities. Think about this sooner rather than later, it is possible to wait too long and have the airplane in a situation beyond the BRS deployment envelope. This has happened to at least one Cirrus, leading to fatalities. The BRS should be on your mind from the start of the situation unfolding, and you should constantly be evaluating whether the time is right for deployment. The moment the BRS becomes the smartest, safest option to walk away, use it.
Anyway, those are my thoughts...I'm sure others have differing opinions on this. I'm happy to hear them and always looking to refine my procedures.