Basement Window Installation
Let There Be (Natural) Light
Natural lighting is at a premium in home construction, especially when it comes to a finished basement. Most basements are not built with an eye towards an eventual finishing/remodeling project, however, resulting in sparse and poorly-located windows. Fortunately, it's possible to overcome basement window deficiencies by having new units installed.
Basement Window Considerations
While there's no single solution for installing basement windows, certain projects are more feasible than others.
- Windows can only be installed in areas of the basement that are above ground. Digging out backfill around the foundation in order to add room for windows is not recommended.
- Basement windows can be installed in any type of wall (wood framed, concrete, or stone). Installing windows in concrete or stone is, of course, much more time-consuming (and therefore more expensive) than installing them in wood framing.
- The window opening must be sized exactly with a margin of error of about an inch on either side. Concrete can be cut with a specialized demolition saw with relative precision, but a stone foundation is much more challenging to work with. Expect to pay a premium for this service.
- If you are trying to maximize space and need to span two different types of walls (i.e. wood framing on top of a concrete or stone foundation wall), this can be accomplished with a bit of extra framing.
Types of Windows
There are two main types of basement windows to choose from: fixed and operating windows. Fixed windows are inoperable (they can’t be opened), while operating windows are able to be opened and come with a screen as well. Both types let in equal amounts of light.
Casement Windows: These windows open either upwards or to the side with a hand crank. They are available in numerous shapes and sizes.
Double-Hung Windows: Double-hung units – with two identical sashes that slide up and down on a fixed track – are the most common window type in homes. Window width is extremely customizable, but most manufacturers limit the height to a minimum of 24 inches. Due to the (presumably) limited space in your basement, double-hung windows may not be an option, however.
Sliding Windows: These windows also have two sashes, but instead of opening up and down (like a double-hung window), they slide side-to-side on fixed tracks. These windows are popular for basements because they can be installed in spaces as small as 12 inches high.
Fixed windows come in a virtually limitless number of sizes. Those with a minimum height of 10 inches are ideal for basement with space constraints. They can contain a single, solid piece of glass or be made in double-sash styles that look like operating windows (without the actual capacity to open and close).
Basement Window Costs
The following prices are based on national averages and may not account for regional cost differences. Please note that standard window sizes are assumed.
- Casement windows and sliding windows installed in wood framing typically cost $300-$500 apiece.
- Double-hung windows cost $350-$550 each installed in wood framing.
- Installing a fixed window in wood framing costs $250-$400.
- Installing basement windows in concrete foundation walls (rather than wood framing) can easily double the above costs. Windows added to a stone wall can increase costs by a factor of 3 or even 4 depending on the type of stone and the thickness of the wall.