Are your basement windows old and rusty, or falling apart? Maybe you are planning a basement renovation and need to include an egress window. Perhaps you are only looking for ways to spruce up your existing windows.
If any of these situations apply to you, we’ve got you covered. From ventilation windows to bricking up an existing basement window, check out our 21 Basement Window Ideas.
Essentially, there are two types of basement windows. If your basement is almost completely below ground and has windows, they are most likely ventilation windows. These windows are the small rectangular type you see in basement walls close to the ceiling. Egress windows are windows big enough allow exit (or egress) from a basement. Here’s an article that explains in more detail.
While ventilation windows may not provide access to your basement, they are important for basement ventilation. They can be opened and closed as needed to circulate the air. If your ventilation windows are old, they may be difficult to open and close, or may be broken. Newer window models are sturdier and more reliable. If you want to replace your ventilation windows, you can look here for your options.
Replacing a basement ventilation window is an easy job that most homeowners can do themselves if they want to take the time. If your old windows are wood framed with brick or concrete, you will want to remove the whole unit, frame and all. Then it’s just a matter of repairing the broken masonry around the sill and putting in the new window. Follow this link for a video with more detailed instructions.
It’s possible to completely seal a basement ventilation window with a glass block window. Sturdy and long lasting, glass block windows will allow you to keep the opening as a source of natural light. The downside is that you won’t be able to open it, so be sure to have another way to ventilate your basement. Here’s a how-to article with instructions about installing glass block windows in your basement.
Egress windows are basement windows that can be used as an exit in case of emergency. If your basement is used for residential purposes, it must have a dedicated exit to the outside of the house. Egress windows must open from the inside and easy to climb through. If your basement is underground, this will require a well in front of the egress window. For more details about egress windows, click here.
Whenever you dig a window well for a basement window, you will have to line the inside of the well with some sort of material to hold the earth in place. Prefabricated wells can be purchased and installed by you or by a contractor. They are crafted in a wide variety of designs and are made out of many types of materials. Finding the right wells to fit your plans should be easy.
Modular window wells are segmented sections of molded hard plastic that can be used to fit almost any size window. You will only need to buy as many sections as necessary to reach reach the bottom of your window well. For a video of a homeowner replacing a ventilation widow with an egress window using modular window wells, click here.
Another popular material used to line a window well is corrugated stainless steel. Stainless steel window wells comes in a variety of heights and widths to accommodate almost any size well. Once your well is dug, you simply attach the stainless steel liner to your foundation to hold it in place. Check out this article to learn how to install a stainless steel window well.
Timber can also be used for a window well. One of the pros for using timber is that it can be designed, cut, and built to fit any size basement window. Timber is more pleasing to the eye than stainless steel or plastic. One drawback is that it rots overtime and will need to be replaced. For a more indepth look at the pros and cons of timber window wells, click here.
If you familiar with woodworking and not opposed to digging, you can build your own timber window well. This will require digging an area large enough for the planned dimensions of your well while leaving enough room to work around. From there, it’s a matter of layering the bottom the hole with drainage gravel, building the well and then refilling the area behind it with dirt. Here’s an article with more details.
Another benefit with building a window well out of wood is that it is easier to build a terraced well. One of the more eye-pleasing window well designs, the terraced well provides levels to the landscaping immediately outside your basement windows. These can be easily climbed when exiting the basement, and can be decorated with plants to add greater eye appeal. Follow this link for detailed instructions about building a terraced window well.
Essentially, a window well is a type of retaining wall. As a result, you can build one out of any material used to build a retaining wall. Wall blocks are a fantastic material to line the inside of your window well. If you are comfortable with masonry, this is a project that you can easily do yourself. To learn how it’s done, click here.
Once your window wells are built you may want to install window well covers over them. These covers will protect your wells, keeping them free of leaves and debris. Just remember that if you are covering an egress window, the covers need to be removable from the inside to allow exit from the basement in case of an emergency. Prefabricated plexiglass window well covers can be purchased here.
Another option to cover window wells is a product called Adjust-a-Grate. Made out of sturdy aluminum, Adjust-A-Grate can be adjusted to fit almost any window well cover. They are sturdy enough to stand on and will protect the well from larger debris and still let in a lot of light. A separate lock can be purchased for added security from intruders while still allowing easy exit from inside the basement.
Building your own window well cover is an easy DIY project. This homeowner built his out of ¾” EMT pipe, PVC and corrugated greenhouse roofing. This project will save you quite a bit of money if you have your own EMT bender. Even if you do not, you can rent one from any home improvement store.
Once your window wells are installed, they can be decorated to add eye appeal to the landscape just outside your basement windows. One option is to put plants in your window wells. You can plant these directly in the soil of a terraced window well, or use potted plants instead. For an article discussing the best plants to use, follow this link.
If you don’t like the way your window wells look from the inside, you can cover them with decorative window well liners. Window well liners are made out of durable vinyl and can be purchased with several decorative scenes or even custom printed with a photo of your choice. Once in place, they provide the illusion of a landscape just outside your basement windows. Here’s where you can go to shop for options.
If you are looking to spice up the look of your basement windows from the inside, window treatments can be purchased for any size window. For ventilation windows, short curtains will do the job. If you have larger egress windows, then longer curtains are the key. To begin shopping for window treatments, click here.
To ensure privacy and for those times you want to cut down the amount of light entering your basement, blinds can be purchased and installed over any basement window. Blinds come in all sizes and are available in many different styles and materials. Finding the right blinds for your basement should be a piece of cake. Follow this link to start looking over the available options.
If part of your basement is above ground, you can always add a sliding glass door. While technically not a window, a sliding glass door will allow plenty of light to stream into your basement, and will provide another exit. This is an excellent option if you have a patio and you want your basement to exit onto the patio. With the right tools and a little knowledge, this can be a DIY project.
Maybe you have a window in a part of your basement that you no longer want. Perhaps your basement renovation plans include a home theater and you need that area dark for optimum viewing. If so, bricking up a basement window is always an option. Here’s a more detailed look at why you might want to brick up your basement windows and some important things to consider before carrying out the project.
So, whether you are looking for ways to spruce up a drab window well, or looking to completely replace your basement windows, hopefully our 21 Basement Window Ideas have given you a helpful start to your planning. Whatever your plans are for your basement, be sure to give your windows proper consideration. Not only do they allow natural light to enter, but when properly planned, they can add eye appeal to your basement as well.
Have any questions? Is there an idea we forgot? Leave a comment below and let us know!