With Basement Remodeling, Consider Your Windows

Written by Kathy Krafka Harkema of Pella Windows & Doors
Updated April 14, 2014
stone steps leading to basement egress window
A prefabricated egress window system costs much less than a custom-built system. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Home Services)

Need extra space but don’t want to move or build a new addition? Overhauling your basement might be the answer.

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Whether you're creating a private living suite to accommodate a child or parent who’s moving into your home, or you're finally designing the craft studio, home office or man cave of your dreams, basement renovations are a popular option. 

Popular basement makeovers include:• family rooms• in-law suites• studio apartments • wine cellars• high-definition and 3D home theaters• ultimate home gyms• workshops/hobby studios• home offices• children’s playrooms• laundry and storage centers

What is an egress window?

If you’re considering a basement renovation that includes sleeping areas, you’ll need egress windows to create an easily accessible exit in case of a fire or other emergency. Egress windows are not only important for safety, but they add extra light to your basement space — making it more inviting. 

Egress, or emergency escape and rescue windows are larger sized windows designed to allow you to escape or a rescue worker to enter through them. Egress defines the minimum width, height and square footage of the window opening. 

Each level of the home has different egress requirements. Your local window replacement specialist, contractor or remodeler can help you choose the right size and style for your home. Consult your local building codes for exact egress window requirements for your area and type of construction. 

Basement window basics

Casement windows — featuring one hinged sash that cranks out — are easy to open and a popular choice for basements. However, casements require a wider window well on the home exterior, so consider that in your remodeling plans. Pella offers many casement window options, ranging from vinyl and fiberglass composite to wood styles. 

If exterior space is limited, choose a sliding window — featuring two sashes where one sash slides left or right. Sliding egress windows must meet higher width requirements and are available in energy-efficient vinyl and fiberglass options. Or choose from double-hung egress window options in wood, vinyl or fiberglass. 

A knockout walkout

If your home has a walkout basement, consider adding a new patio door to create an impressive focal point and entrance.

If you have limited patio space outside, install an inswing hinged patio door — one that opens into your basement, providing more useable space on the patio. Consider your climate conditions as well. In areas with heavy snowfall, an inswing hinged patio door may be your best option. But if you have limited room inside, consider an outswing hinged door. 

Or opt for sliding patio doors with options of 2-, 3- or 4-panel doors to create more natural light and an expanded view. Optional shades or blinds are permanently sealed between the glass to stay clean, provide light control and increased privacy. And the blind design with no roomside cords is safer for homes with children and pets.

About the author

Kathy Krafka Harkema is the spokesperson for Pella Corporation headquartered in Pella, Iowa. Pella Windows and Doors are manufactured across the United States and sold throughout North America. A lifelong safety advocate, she serves as a member of the National Safety Council’s Window Safety Task Force.

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