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By: Louisville Window Co.

How to Plan & Install an Egress Window (Homeowner’s Guide)

worker measuring window frames

Egress windows play a critical role in ensuring the safety of your home. They provide an emergency exit route in case of fire or other emergencies, while also allowing natural light and ventilation into your basement. If you’re considering adding an egress window to your home, this comprehensive guide is here to help. 

We’ll walk you through the planning and installation process step by step, so you can enhance safety and functionality while adding a new window to your space. 

What’s inside this blog:

  • What makes egress windows so great
  • Step-by-step guide to installing an egress window in your home

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the egress window!

Why Install an Egress Window? πŸšͺπŸͺŸ

Before diving into the installation process, it’s essential to understand why egress windows are crucial for your home:

Safety: Egress windows provide a safe exit route from the basement in case of emergencies, such as a fire or other hazards.

Natural Light: They bring in natural light, making your basement a more pleasant and usable space.

Ventilation: Egress windows improve ventilation in the basement, reducing humidity and preventing musty odors.

Compliance: In many areas, building codes require egress windows in finished basements and bedrooms for safety and compliance.

Step 1: Determine the Location πŸ‘πŸ“

The first step is to choose the location for your egress window. Consider these factors:

  • Basement Layout: Analyze your basement layout to find the most suitable spot for the window. It should provide a clear path to the exterior.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that the window’s location allows for easy access to the outside. It should not be obstructed by obstacles like shrubs, fences, or structures.
  • Bedroom Requirements: If you’re installing the window in a bedroom, make sure it meets the code requirements for bedroom egress. Typically, this means that the window should be large enough for a person to escape through.

Step 2: Check Local Building Codes πŸ“œπŸ”

Building codes related to egress windows can vary by location, so it’s essential to check with your local building department. These codes typically dictate the minimum size, height, and location of egress windows.

  • Window Size: Most codes require a minimum clear opening size, often around 5.7 square feet.
  • Window Height: The window should be low enough to allow for easy escape, usually no higher than 44 inches from the floor.
  • Window Well: If you need to install a window well, there may be specific requirements regarding its size, depth, and ladder or steps.

Step 3: Choose the Window Type πŸͺŸπŸ§

Selecting the right type of egress window is essential. Common options include:

  • Casement Windows: These open outward with a crank and provide an unobstructed exit path. They are often a popular choice for egress windows.
  • Sliding Windows: Sliding windows are another option and can work well if you have limited space outside.
  • Awning Windows: Awning windows hinge at the top and can be a good choice for added ventilation.
  • Hopper Windows: Hopper windows open inward from the top and are typically used when you have a window well.

Step 4: Prepare for Excavation πŸͺ£πŸ—️

Excavation is often necessary to create the window well and provide the necessary clearance for the egress window. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Mark the Area: Mark the location of the window well on the exterior wall.
  • Excavate: Excavate the area according to the local building codes and the specifications for your window well.
  • Install Drainage: Proper drainage is essential to prevent water from accumulating in the window well. Gravel and a drainage pipe can help with this.

Step 5: Install the Window Well πŸͺ£πŸ§±

The window well serves as a barrier to prevent soil from collapsing into the window area. Follow these steps to install it:

  1. Place the Window Well: Set the window well into the excavated area, ensuring it is level.
  2. Attach the Well to the Wall: Secure the window well to the foundation wall using anchor bolts.
  3. Backfill: Carefully backfill the area around the window well, ensuring it is well-compacted.

Step 6: Install the Egress Window πŸͺŸπŸ”§

Now it’s time to install the egress window itself. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare the Opening: Clean and inspect the window opening. Make sure it’s free of debris and level.
  2. Apply Sealant: Apply a generous bead of exterior-grade sealant around the perimeter of the opening.
  3. Place the Window: Carefully place the egress window into the opening, ensuring it is level.
  4. Secure the Window: Secure the window by screwing it into the window frame or well according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Test the Operation: Check that the window opens and closes smoothly and securely.

Step 7: Finish the Interior πŸͺŸπŸͺ‘

Completing the interior of the egress window is essential for both aesthetics and safety. Here’s what you can do:

  • Window Well Cover: Install a window well cover to prevent debris from entering and to improve safety.
  • Window Trim: Add interior window trim to enhance the appearance of the window and cover any gaps between the window frame and the wall.
  • Safety Ladder or Steps: If required by local codes, install a safety ladder or steps in the window well for easy egress.

Step 8: Landscaping and Grading 🌿🏑

After the installation is complete, it’s time to address the landscaping and grading around the window well. Proper grading ensures that water drains away from the well and doesn’t accumulate.

  • Backfill: Complete the backfilling around the window well, making sure it is graded away from the house.
  • Landscaping: Consider adding landscaping around the well to enhance its appearance and functionality.

Step 9: Final Inspection and Safety Check πŸ”πŸšͺ

Before considering the project complete, schedule a final inspection with your local building department to ensure that the egress window installation meets all the necessary codes and safety requirements.

Install an Egress Window Like a True Pro

Adding an egress window to your home is a significant project that can enhance safety and functionality while allowing natural light into your basement. By following these steps and adhering to local building codes, you can plan and install an egress window that provides peace of mind and improves your home’s value. 

Don’t forget to consult with professionals when needed, especially for any structural or safety concerns. With the right egress window in place, your home will be safer and more enjoyable for years to come.

Contact our team of experts today and we’ll kick off your next home project with a free estimate and easy in-home consultation!


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