Clera Windows + Doors Blog

What You Need to Know About Basement Window Installation

Do you have exciting plans for your basement renovation? Are you converting it into an extra bedroom for guests, a personal library, or an entertainment room? That definitely calls for spanking new basement windows.

You may also want to replace basement windows because of observable wear and tear over the years. Alternatively, you may not even be sure if you need replacement basement windows at all. 

At whatever stage you are, this informative guide covers everything you need to know about basement window installation. You can also skip to the part that you need answers for; simply select from these key points that we will discuss in this comprehensive article:

A. The Tell-Tale Signs That You Need Replacement Basement Windows
B. When You Are Legally Required to Have Egress Basement Windows
C. Window Style Options for Basement Window Replacement
D. The Best Material for Replacement Basement Windows
E. The Cost of Basement Window Replacement
F. An Overview of How to Install Basement Windows
G. Window Treatment Options For a Basement Window
H. Ways to Make Basement Windows More Secure

Sliding basement windows used as egress windows for a basement bedroom

A. The Tell-Tale Signs That You Need Replacement Basement Windows

If you have no clue whether your existing basement windows are due for a replacement or not, watch out for these clear indications.

1. The Opening and Closing Mechanisms Are Defective

If you cannot close your basement window shut, it means your home’s security is compromised. This will also leave your basement exposed to outside precipitation.

On the other hand, if you cannot open the basement windows, it’s going to feel hot and stuffy in the basement during the warmer months. Additionally, poor ventilation, combined with damp weather and/or leaky basement walls will increase the humidity in the basement; this leads to increased mould formation and increased water damage/corrosion on stored items.

2. There’s a Draft or Condensation Between the Glass Panes

When condensation appears between glass panes, it means that the windows are leaky; there is no tight seal keeping outside air and inside air separated anymore. When your basement windows are like this, there is little to no insulation happening.

This is a big deal if you’re using the basement as a bedroom or as a functional room (e.g. a playroom or private study) because it can get really uncomfortable. This also means that you may be wasting money on increased energy bills.

3. Observable Damage On the Glass or the Frames

This is a sign that’s common in older basement windows and/or basement windows that didn’t get the right maintenance. For instance, wooden frame windows need regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. Different materials will have different requirements.

It’s important to understand that significant damage to the frame or the glass of your basement windows is not only a security risk but will also lead to precipitation getting inside, poorer insulation, and vulnerability to pests.

B. When You Are Legally Required to Have Egress Basement Windows

The term “egress” pertains to the action of leaving – and this is exactly what egress windows are built for. Egress basement windows are large enough for an adult to pass through in case of fires and similar emergencies. Egress basement windows typically lead into window wells that give three benefits: easy escape during emergencies, increased sunlight, and enhanced ventilation.

According to the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), egress windows for all rooms around the house must meet specific size requirements of 0.35 square meters (3.8 square feet) with a dimension no less than 380 millimetres (15 inches).

So, when are egress windows legally required to be present in your basement?

As a property owner, you are legally required to have an egress basement window if the basement would be used as any type of dwelling place (e.g. as an extra bedroom, a rentable space.)

C. Window Style Options for Basement Window Replacement

Here’s a selection of the most popular types of basement windows for installation.

1. Hopper Windows

Hopper windows are a typical choice for basement windows. They are a pretty decent choice if the basement is not to be inhabited. This is because hopper windows are never a good choice for egress basement windows due to their limited size and mechanism for opening.

These windows are typically wide but not tall. They have a hinge at the bottom that allows them to open inwardly. The only advantage with this type of basement window is the decent ventilation it gives since it can open fully.

2. Awning Windows

Awning windows hinge on the top side and open outwards from the bottom of the window frame. The main advantage of these types of windows as a basement window is the ventilation it gives while also keeping out precipitation (since the glass, even while open will block out the rain.)

However, because of this mechanism of opening, awning windows are never suitable as egress basement windows. The glass panel, though fully open, will block someone who is trying to get away from a fire or similar emergency situation.

3. Casement Windows

Casement windows have hinges on the side and open outward fully. They are also usually tall in dimension. These windows can be single or in pairs. Casement windows typically aren’t chosen as basement windows unless egress windows are required.

For egress basement windows, casement windows are the perfect choice because (1) larger size options are available in this style and (2) the mechanism of opening truly gets the glass panels out of the way of someone who is trying to escape from a fire or similar emergency situation.

4. Sliding Windows

As implied by the name, sliding windows have panels or sashes that slide on a track. Sliding windows are a good alternative to casement windows if you need egress basement windows. All you need is the right size of sliding windows that will allow for a safe escape from emergencies.

Additionally, this is the kind of window that stays out of the way and saves space. So as an egress window, sliding windows will allow you to clean the window well without needing to shut the sashes behind.

However, compared to casement windows, sliding windows give more limited ventilation since only half of the window frame can be open at any given time.

D. The Best Material for Replacement Basement Windows

Many contractors will recommend vinyl or UPVC windows and window frames since these do not warp, are very resilient to water damage, and are impervious to mould.

Vinyl windows also require little to no maintenance. For these reasons, most contractors will recommend vinyl windows, not just for your basement, but for any area of your home that needs replacement windows.

E. The Cost of Basement Window Replacement

Basement window replacement can cost anywhere from $430 to $1500. The rates may go higher if you are going to include professional fees for concrete cut out, trenching, or building a window well.

To save on basement window installation, check your home whether other rooms are now due for new replacement windows. Chances are, there’s only going to be a slight difference in installation cost when you have only a single basement window installed versus having everything done altogether.

F. An Overview of How to Install Basement Windows

A Simple Basement Window Replacement

  1. Once you already have your replacement basement window, start removing the old window.
    • If the window’s frame is wooden, you’ll be able to lever this away with a pry bar. Then you can make use of a reciprocating saw to cut the nails.
    • However, if the frame is made of metal, remove the screws or rivets that are holding the frame in place.
  2. Get rid of the ridges on the window opening using a hammer and chisel.
  3. It’s time to install the new basement window. Center the new window into the window opening. Push a few wooden shims below the edge of the frame in order to leave room for insulation. Make sure that the window is levelled.
  4. Then, the new window is screwed into place. You can then apply expanding foam (low expansion) to help insulate the glass.
  5. Next, go to the outside of the window and remove the old caulk from the outside frame using a utility knife.
  6. Then, 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. You won’t need to do this with a vinyl wood frame.

Upgrading to An Egress Basement Window

Upgrading to an egress window is NEVER recommended for DIY because this is a project that can affect the structural integrity of your home. You are, after all, creating a larger hole on a foundation wall.

When you call Clera Windows + Doors for basement window installation, our team will give you a free home estimate and make expert recommendations regarding suitable dimensions and other specifics related to your local building code.

If you’re curious, here is what the process will look like:

  1. Any needed permits for the project must be secured before any work can begin.
  2. Because the project will deal with a load-bearing wall, a temporary support wall is constructed. Additionally, a plastic sheet tent is set up to cover the hole
  3. Next, the soil outside is excavated and the window well is installed or constructed, depending on the preferences of the homeowner.
  4. After this, a concrete saw is used to cut a larger window hole into the concrete.
  5. Then, the loose blocks of cut concrete are knocked out using a 4-lb hammer.
  6. The opening is then smoothed out with a hammer and chisel.
  7. Next, any exposed holes are filled with concrete.
  8. At this point, the window sill and frame are installed and anchored into the concrete.
  9. Next, the window itself is installed and the gaps are secured with caulk.
  10. Primer and paint can be applied to the window frame for protection and finishing touches are done to the window well.

A basement bedroom with a sliding window

G. Window Treatment Options For a Basement Window

Whether for prettiness or privacy, you will be pleased to know that there are a number of beautiful window treatments to dress up your basement windows. It’s impossible to go wrong regardless of whatever of these window treatment options you choose for your basement window installation because they all hit the sweet spot when it comes to comfort and chic.

H. Ways to Make Basement Windows More Secure

If you have basement window wells for your egress basement windows, make it a point to employ some security and safety measures in place against potential burglars or accidents wherein small children or pets fall in and get trapped.

However, while devising any security measures, keep in mind that egress requirements dictate that the egress basement windows must be operable from the inside and that they do not require any special tools or skills so that it’s easy to open in case of emergency.

Here are a few helpful security tips you can use:

  • Put safety gates around (not on top of) your basement window well.
  • When you call in for basement window installation, ask about sturdier options for glass.
  • Select windows that are equipped with efficient lock mechanisms that can open from the inside.
  • Check the locks every night before going to bed or before stepping out of the house for work.
  • Do not hide your basement windows with potted plants or overgrown shrubs. The leafiness will only attract perpetrators because it’ll give them an excellent camouflage and keep them out of sight from neighbours or passersby.
  • Make sure your property is well-lit to deter malicious activity. You can also opt to install security cameras near the window wells.
  • Conceal views of your interiors by selecting one-way mirrors or frosted glass for your basement window installation.

Professional Basement Window Installation That You Can Count On

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about basement window installation or basement window replacement from various options to the recommended window material. We’ve even talked a bit about how to install basement windows.

So if you’re ready to take the next step in basement window replacement, we can help!

Clera Windows + Doors boasts of an extensive collection of elegantly designed, durable, and energy-efficient windows. We can also do a simple replacement or extend your windows for you.  

We have a collection of stylish vinyl windows that can match all kinds of aesthetic preferences. We even accommodate custom-made specialty-shaped vinyl windows. Additionally, all our products are made according to the highest quality standards and have an excellent Energy STAR rating.

Because Clera Windows + Doors is a one-stop-shop, we take care of everything, from manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. You get a hassle-free experience and a true lifetime warranty from us. To request a FREE home estimate, contact us today!

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