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What are the Different Options for Basement Window Wells?

By Dana DeCecco
Updated May 16, 2024
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Basement window wells are designed for a variety of functional and aesthetic purposes. Properly constructed wells provide natural light to basement areas while maintaining a waterproof seal to ensure a dry basement. Masonry, metal, and plastic units are popular styles of basement window wells. Various types can be purchased and installed. On-site construction methods are used for masonry or concrete installations.

The most common option for basement window wells is the corrugated steel unit. Unites are prefabricated, galvanized, and typically formed into 180 degree, half circles in different widths and depths. Common window wells such as this are also available in heavy grade plastic. Translucent covers can be purchased to keep out leaves and debris, allowing light to shine through.

These low cost window wells are simply set in place, bolted to the structure, and backfilled. The bottom of the well is normally filled with gravel for drainage. Basement window wells are also installed for the purpose of egress. Building codes often provide for the ability to exit the basement through the windows in case of fire. Certain specifications must be met to fulfill these codes, and work is typically inspected and approved.

Typical code regulations include the size of the window and the size of the operative panel. The height off the finished floor must also comply with code. The window well itself must meet certain size requirements, and steps may need to be constructed, as well. The critical dimensions can be supplied by a local building code agency.

Modular egress systems are available in aesthetically pleasing designs that are code compliant and feature integrated step ladders. The modular units stack up to accommodate the depth of the well. They are constructed of high grade plastic materials that are durable and maintenance free.

Rigid composite materials are used to create basement window wells that have the appearance of stone. These attractive units are strong and durable, and sometimes include a built-in step, depending on the depth ordered. Translucent covers are easy to operate and allow light to shine in. The rigid composite construction comes in one piece and is rust and rot proof.

Window well liners and covers are available in assorted designs to repair and beautify existing window wells. Imitation stone and brick liners can be inserted into existing wells for a clean and fresh look. Flat and bubble style well covers in clear plastic can be custom made to fit any window well. Wire mesh covers able to support weight are constructed of heavy duty steel.

Window wells are often formed and poured concrete structures. Concrete basement window wells are the most durable and lasting type. They can be built in virtually any configuration and size including a full size stairwell, built in steps, or steel rungs. Forms are available to give the appearance of stone or brick work.

Masonry window wells can be constructed with brick, stone, and concrete block. Concrete block wells can be covered with architectural stone products for a custom appearance. Shallow wells can be built with prefabricated dry stack retaining wall products that can be stacked and backfilled.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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