The two most common types of basement window well covers are bubble covers and low profile covers. Bubble covers are dome shaped and sit above the ground. They are used when part of the window is below ground and part of the window is above ground. Low-profile covers lay flat on the ground or very close to the ground and are used when the entire window is below ground. A third type of window well cover is a grate, which covers the well but offers no protection from weather or debris entering the well.
A basement window well is a hole in the ground outside of a basement window. Some of the reasons for having window wells are to allow natural light into the basement, to let in fresh air with windows that open, and to create a means of escape from the basement. A window that allows access to the outside is called an egress window.
Basement window well covers fit over a window well to keep out things like rain, leaves, animals and snow. Covers vary in style, size, material, and method of attachment to the window well. Choosing the right window well cover depends on the size and shape of the window well, the purpose the window well cover, and how it needs to be secured in place.
Window well covers can be made from lightweight plastic or heavy duty materials such as plexiglass or polycarbonate. Most covers are clear to allow natural sunlight in through the window, though some can be tinted which still allows light to filter through. Designs vary as well. Some are smooth while others have a ridged or decorative design.
In order to find a properly-sized cover, the window needs to be measured for its length and width. In addition, the distance from the top of the window to the edge of the window well must also be measured. The shape of the window well must also be considered. A rectangle well needs a rectangular cover and a semi-circular well needs a semi-circular cover. An ill-fitting cover will not function properly.
Grate-type window covers lie flat over the window well and are attached to the well frame. A grate keeps large items, such as children, from entering the well, but does not protect the well from the weather or debris. One benefit of a grate cover is that it allows air to circulate through the window well. Grates are usually made of metal, and they come in a variety of colors.
Basement window well covers can be custom made. There are companies who will measure the window wells of a home and discuss the need for window well protection with the homeowner. They will then return and install the covers. Some companies manufacture their own covers. Others purchase them from a manufacturer and install them. Window well covers can also be purchased in hardware stores and installed by the homeowner.
Egress windows need to have a special window well cover. Since an egress window is a means of escape, the cover needs to be easily removable to allow people to exit the well quickly. There may be building codes regarding covering the window well of an egress window. It is a good idea to check with the local building department for regulations before putting covers on any window wells.