Tom Shafer

6 basement windows better than what you have now

July 29, 2015

Your basement windows are probably small, designed to fit into an opening two of three block high and a one-and-a-half to two blocks wide. They are also probably aluminum, have a single piece of glass, may or may not lock securely, and open into the room. Honestly? They were probably the cheapest the builder could buy.

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But that doesn't mean you're stuck living with them. Here are some great alternatives:

  1. Several window manufacturers, like Silver Line and Andersen, make a sliding window to your specific basement sizes. There windows have insulated glass, and both sides of the of the window slide open.
  2. Hoppers and slider with high performance glass are another good option. While the sun may never shine on a basement window, heat is still lost from the inside to the outside. Consider the low-e glass types available.
  3. Some states, like Michigan, require a four foot by four foot opening in the basement for egress purposes. They do not want a person caught in a basement with only a 30" by 15" opening to escape in case of fire. Regardless of whether or not you live in one of these states, consider adding as large a window as possible, not only for your own safety, but for the extra light.
  4. If safety is your main concern, you can also find windows with escape wells, which have stairs to make getting out of the basement quickly easy and safe. A major manufacturer of these systems is Bilco. Their ScapeWel window wells are made of polyethylene and pockets where landscape material and flowers can enhance the appearance.
  5. If replacing the builder grade windows is not a possibility, consider window well covers. These Lexan or acrylic formed clear covers add a layer of warmth to cold windows. If the material is tough enough (like Lexan), they can also provide some extra security.
  6. For the most security that still allows plenty of light, consider glass blocks. The old traditional glass blocks you were once familiar with are now made of an acrylic material and can be either clear or opaque. They're also made to exactly fill a traditional basement window opening. Some can even have a small ventilation opening in one or two blocks.

If you are planning on replacing all of the windows in your house, then replace all the windows. The basement windows should be new, shiny, and energy efficient also to get the most out of your home upgrade.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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