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Basement windows: replacing and decorating

Basement windows: replacing and decorating

Basement windows are an often neglected element of home decor. When you renovate your basement, you may want to update the windows.

It can be difficult to imagine your basement windows the same as other windows, usually because they are very small or awkwardly placed. What’s the best way to update the look of your basement windows? Here are some helpful tips and tricks.

How to replace basement windows

If you are doing a very serious basement remodeling on an older home, you may find yourself replacing the basement windows entirely. While it is possible to do this yourself, it can be very difficult.

You may have to pursue a little to get the basement window properly. It is probably best to hire a contractor to replace basement windows as the contractor will have the necessary equipment.

Family-Room-by-Giambastiani-Design basement windows: replacing and decorating
Image source:Sun Valley Landscaping

Basement Windows Treatment

Basement window decorating is mostly about illusions. Often times, you don’t have much choice in where to place the windows or how they are shaped. Create a centered layout between basement windows where you can. Place beds, sofas and other essentials right between the windows for a balanced appearance.

Treat the layout around basement windows in a similar way to above-ground windows. If there is a lot of space under the basement window, don’t be afraid to fill the space. Place art or even furniture in this gap. It’s still a useful space and a natural source of light in a darker room.

When it comes to curtains for basement windows, remember to consider the function of the room. For example, if you plan to use the space as a family room, you should choose treatments that highlight the natural lighting of the basement windows. Use the basement window treatment as a chance to complement your decor and make the room less like a claustrophobic, cold basement.

Royal-York-Apartment-von-Peter-A.-Sellar-Architectural-Photographer Basement Windows: Replacing and Decorating
Image source:Peter A. Sellar – architecture photographer

Valances are a great choice as they retain the function of the basement window while adding a touch of style. Go for lighter colored fabrics and other materials to make sure that the light coming in through the windows isn’t unnecessarily blocked. If you want to draw attention to the windows, choose lighter, bolder colors for window treatment and colors.

For storage-oriented basements, you should choose very functional shades that can be easily opened and closed if necessary. You want enough light to see everything, but you also want to make sure that heat and sunlight don’t damage anything. Some items do not work well if kept warm for a long time. You may also want to make sure the basement stays safe, especially if you keep valuable items in the basement.

Exit Windows

What is an exit window?

An exit window is a basement window that emerges from a basement through the window. This is an important security feature and an interesting addition to a basement that has a more family or gathering-oriented function.

Depending on your budget and design, you can use an exit window as an alternative entrance and exit for your basement. It also gives you a bigger window and light source to work with when decorating your basement.

Family-Room-by-Meister-Construction-Ltd Basement windows: replacing and decorating
Image source:Meister Construction Ltd.

There are a variety of different types of exit windows, the most common of which are essentially double-leaf doors. Make sure they can be locked from the inside for security reasons. Casement windows have side hinges and take up very little space, but still have large openings. Glider windows (or double hanging windows) must be very large to meet the code.

Even when they are open, these windows are still half blocked by glass. Awning windows swing out from below, which is not ideal as it can pinch someone during a fire. Their opening parts and hinges are centered in the middle of the window and can also block the escape.

All basement exit windows must have a large window so that they can be opened easily. Make sure there is also a ladder so people can safely climb out the window. If the well is below a deck, make sure someone can safely and easily get out from below the deck.

Requirements for the exit window

There are some new requirements for basement windows and you may need to invest the time and money in an older home to make sure the basement windows comply with the code. There may also be additional local requirements.

Great-Neighborhood-Homes-by-Design-Build-Firms Basement Windows: Replacing and Decorating
Image source:Design build companies

What are these requirements for basement windows?

  • Minimum opening width: 20 inches.
  • Minimum opening height: 24 inches.
  • Minimum free mesh opening: 5.7 square feet (5.0 square feet for the first floor)
  • Maximum rocker height above the ground: 44 inches.

If you want to use the basement as living space, you need to have the room inspected. Don’t take short cuts, and not just because of the inspection.

Good exit windows are important to keep the house safe and to make sure everyone can get out safely in an emergency. Don’t try to get cheap. A good, safe exit window is worth the investment.

Glass block cellar window

For more light and airflow in the basement, you may want to install some glass block basement windows. These type of basement windows are often found in older homes, with blocks of glass surrounding a simple ventilation-style window. You can also get them without a vent if you just want to bring more natural light into the tour’s basement.

Bouldin-Creek-Residence-by-Restructure-Studio-Basement Windows: Replace and Decorate
Image source:Restructure studio

When purchasing and installing glass block basement windows, make sure they are secure. While the air vent is often small, you don’t want it to be an entry point for pests or particularly creative young children. Glass blocks are made to obscure the inside without compromising natural light.

Final thoughts on basement windows

A basement window should be used to make your basement more welcoming, whether it is a storage room or a meeting place. Always check your local regulations and don’t feel compelled to go cheap to install a basement window as safety is a major concern.