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How to Install a Basement Window

Aug 18 2020

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Egress window for the basement

Across Canada, basements take on many different shapes and sizes. They can be storage areas, hobby rooms, exercise rooms, rec rooms, or even a basement apartment. Whatever the case may be, this part of the home provides valuable extra space. If you’re reading this article, you are probably considering replacing or upgrading the window in your basement.

But what exactly is the basement window installation process? Whether you are replacing a typical basement window or upgrading to an egress basement window, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’ll cover all these and more. Let’s begin!

Photo of a basement apartment’s living room

What is a Basement Egress Window and Why Do I Need One?

The term “egress” pertains to the action of leaving. This is exactly what a basement egress window is for. This type of window should be large enough for a large adult male to pass through in case an emergency escape is needed. Typically, a basement egress window opens into a window well because it would be completely or partially below ground level.

Added Safety

The main reason for having a basement egress window is the added safety. In case of a fire or other natural disaster, these windows are a way out, making sure that no one is trapped in the basement. They can also serve as an entry point for firemen or other emergency responders as well.

Increased Light & Ventilation

On top of added safety, you will also benefit from the increased amount of light and ventilation you can get because of the increased size of egress windows. The improved ventilation helps to prevent the formation of mould or mildew in your basement. Meanwhile, the increased natural light helps to reduce your energy bill.

Moreover, there are circumstances wherein an egress basement window is required by the law – which brings us to our next point.

When Am I Legally Required To Have a Basement Egress Window?

If the basement would be turned into a bedroom or a basement apartment, the homeowner would be legally required to install a basement egress window.

But if the basement is not to be inhabited, you may not be legally required to have an egress window. You can still install the window to enjoy its benefits. Moreover, if you decide to turn your basement into a bedroom or apartment in the future, you will be prepared. .

How Do I Choose A Basement Window?

Brands to Consider

It’s very important to choose a manufacturer that will deliver high-quality windows that can fit your specific needs – while also ensuring topmost durability, energy-efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. Brands like Clera Windows + Doors and Burano Doors manufacture such windows that simply have it all. Moreover, they manufacture what they sell, thereby ensuring that their customers get the best price possible.

Types of Windows to Consider

Hopper Windows

This type of window is the most commonly chosen for typical basement windows. These are usually wide but not tall, hinging at the bottom with the panel opening inwards. This is not suitable for egress windows because of its size and the way the window opens. But this type of window opens fully and thus gives great ventilation as a typical basement window.

Awning Windows

Awning windows hinge at the top and open outwards from the bottom of the frame. This is a great window choice for keeping out precipitation whilst also having a lot of ventilation. This can be used as a typical basement window but it’s not an ideal choice as an egress window. The way that the window opens would get in the way of an emergency escape.

Casement Windows

This type of window hinges on the side and opens outward. Casement windows are the best egress basement windows because they allow for an easy exit into the window well. They are not usually used for typical basement windows because of their large size.

Extra Factors to Consider for Egress Windows

A basement egress window must meet the standards set by the National Building Code of Canada from which all provinces base their building codes. As an example, the Ontario Building Code states the following standards for a basement egress window:

  • Must be openable from the inside without the use of tools
  • Must provide an individual, unobstructed open portion with a minimum area of 0.35 m² – with no dimension of the window under 380mm.
  • If the window opens into a window well, there must be a clearance of no less than 550mm in front of the window.
  • If a protective cover is installed over the window, this should be openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge of the opening mechanism.

How Do I Plan Where My New Window Will Be and How Many?

We highly recommend working with a professional on this. Having poorly placed windows or too many window openings can compromise your house’s structural integrity. Furthermore, such a project would require a building permit – which a professional architect can help you to get.

A window well being installed

Can Basement Window Installation Be A DIY Project?

The only situation that basement window installation is recommended for DIY is if you are replacing a same-sized window. If your basement’s concrete wall would need to be cut in any way, we highly recommend working with professionals.

How Do I Install A Basement Window?

Whether you are replacing or upgrading a basement window, you can enlist the help of trusted professionals. Brands like Clera Windows + Doors and Burano Doors are not only capable of manufacturing custom windows for you, they also offer installation services, making your project as stress-free as possible.

To give you a view of the basement window installation process, here are the steps to replacing or upgrading your basement window.

Replacing an Existing Window (With A Window of The Same Size)

  1. Once you already have your replacement window, start by removing the old window. If the window’s frame is made of wood, you’ll be able to lever this away with a pry bar. Then use a reciprocating saw to cut between the wall studs and the frame.If the frame is made of metal, you would need to remove the screws or rivets that are holding the frame in place.
  2. Use a hammer and chisel to get rid of the ridges on the window opening.
  3. Center your new window into the window hole. To leave room for insulation, push a few wooden shims below the edge of the frame. Make sure that the window is leveled.
  4. Screw your new window into place and apply expanding foam (low expansion) to insulate the glass.
  5. Next, walk over to the outside of the window and use your utility knife to remove old caulk from the outside frame.
  6. Replace the caulk around the entire window.
  7. If your window frame is made of wood, make sure to apply primer on it to protect it from the elements.

Upgrading to an Egress Basement Window

    1. Because this project may take a while to finish, it starts with the construction of a temporary support wall and a plastic sheet tent to cover the hole.
    2. Next, the soil outside is excavated for the window well.
    3. After this, it’s time to cut the basement wall with a concrete saw to create the window opening.
    4. After cutting the concrete, the blocks are knocked out using a 4-lb hammer.
    5. The opening is then smoothed out with a hammer and chisel.
    6. Next, any open holes are filled with concrete.
    7. Next, the window sill and frame are installed and anchored into the concrete.
    8. Then, the window itself is installed and the gaps are secured with caulk.
    9. Primer and paint can be applied to the window frame for protection and finishing touches are done to the window well.

And voila! You have a new and/or upgraded basement window to brighten up your basement.

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