Everything You Need to Know About Basement Windows

basement windows

Basement windows are a bit different from other windows of the house. They have to meet fire code requirements.

Whether you are planning to add extra living space or looking to improve the value of your home, remodeling of your basement is a wonderful idea. There are a lot of creative ideas you can work with, however, don’t overlook the importance of your basement windows. When it comes to basements, proper light and fresh air flow are the key features to look for and that’s why your basement windows become even more important. Similarly, there are some important building codes for basements set by International Building Code(IRC) which you have to follow. Now, to make the matters a little bit simple, here is everything you must know about your basement and the windows you are going to install.

1. What is An Egress Window

All residential building code requirements across the United States require any habitable place to have a window that is large enough for a person to escape in case of an emergency, such as a fire. It is commonly referred to as Egress window. Any of the windows that meet the requirement can be considered as an egress window. The idea is to have a viable escape route in case of fire or to have an opening for the firefighters to rescue people.

2. Specific Requirements For Basement Windows

To meet IRC standards, your basement windows must have:

The basement windows must have a clear opening of 5.7 feet when the window is open which will allow people to pass through it during an emergency. It should have a minimum opening width of 20 inches, opening hight of at least 24 inches, and the bottom of the clear opening must be within 44 inches from the floor. This window should be operational from the inside without requiring any tool or key to open.

basement windows

3. Egress Window Wells

Egress window wells are required when the window is below ground level. It should allow the window to be opened fully. It should have at least 9 square foot floor area with a dimension of 36 inches in width and length. If your window well is more than 44 inches deep, it should have a ladder or steps to climb out. Similarly, if the window is located under a deck or porch, there should be at least 48 inches between the top of the window well and the base of the deck or porch joists.

4. Replace an Existing Window

If the existing basement windows of your home do not meet the required criteria, it is better to replace an existing window to make it larger rather than installing a new window altogether. It will be economical and simple as you can add space above and on the sides of the window. However, the feasibility of adding space will depend upon the placement of the window.

5. Cost of Basement Windows Replacement

When you are planning to replace your basement window, there are two possible ways like any other remodeling project. You can do it yourself or you can acquire the services of a window contractor.


If the professionals are installing the window and the window well, the price can reach can go up to $8000. It includes the window, other materials, and labor costs. However, if you are just replacing the window, the cost can remain between $1000 to $1500.


You can do it yourself and save a good amount of money. However, you have to be sure of what you are doing. The costs for the DIY approach will come from materials, renting the appropriate tools required, and the disposal of extra materials.

The Best Way

Do it yourself or hire a window contractor, what is the right option? Hiring a professional who knows how to replace a basement window is recommended over a DIY effort unless you have the right skills and right tools. Professionals can work efficiently and effectively which will save from a lot of future problems and added costs.

6. Types of Basement Windows

When it comes to basement window replacements, there are a number of beautiful window options you can choose from.

Casement Windows

Casement windows are hinged at each side and you can open them inward or outward. They are also a very good energy-efficient option for your home.

Awning Windows

They are close to casement windows, but they hinge from the top. They can provide ample light and air when open.

Double Hung Windows

They have two sliding pieces known as sashes that slide over one another. They are easy to clean and maintain.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows are very easy to close and open which makes them an ideal choice in case of an emergency. Similarly, they are very easy to clean and maintain.

7. Basement Window Treatments

Basement windows normally look small which can make the whole room dingy and unappealing. Beautiful window treatments are a simple solution to keep your interest alive.

Window Film

Window film makes your basement a private place to avoid unwanted stares. However, it can reduce the amount of light coming in the basement which can be an issue.


Blinds are a good choice to create privacy. Use light-colored blinds which will keep the space bright.


Curtains bring warmth and style to your room. As the basement windows are small size, choose longer curtains as it will create the illusion of bigger windows.


Valances are decorative window coverings that are made with the same fabric of the curtains. They are to cover the top of the curtains. When dealing with a small window, they are ideal to add some extra height.


Another simple way to create an illusion of a large window is to add shutters to the window. These shutters look beautiful and make the small window look much bigger.

When you are planning to remodel your basement or any other part of your home, it is strongly advised to follow the regulations and building codes. It looks hectic but it will surely save you from a lot of problems in the future.

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