What Works (And What Doesn't) When Installing or Replacing Basement Windows
Friday, October 16th, 2015 by Thrasher
Nothing adds light and natural beauty to a dark basement like installing new, fantastic basement windows. That's what basement windows are supposed to do!
If you have basement windows that are ugly, rusted, rotted, or drafty, then your windows are failing. Whether you're using your basement as finished space, or you're just interested in saving money on your energy bills, this is a great opportunity to improve comfort, energy efficiency and home value.
Basement Window Designs That Do Not Work
When it comes to basement windows, our experts at Thrasher have seen it all. With four decades in the industry, we've had plenty of time to see the good, the bad and the ugly.
Understanding what NOT to do when installing or replacing basement windows will enable you to avoid some common mistakes.
Here are some choices that we do NOT recommend:
Steel Basement Windows
Steel basement windows are typically designed with single-pane glass held in a steel sash (the movable part of the window). The sash pivots in a steel window frame. These windows are popular with builders because they're inexpensive.
Disadvantages of Steel Windows
Poor Energy Efficiency: Instead of holding in the heat during cold winter weather, steel window frames allow heat to escape, making the basement much colder. Poor weatherstripping on these windows provides also pathways for air infiltration.
Short Lifespan: Within 5-10 years, steel basement windows can rust and corrode so badly that they need to be replaced. That means that from the day they're installed onward, they're already beginning to deteriorate.
Loss of Functionality: When steel basement windows begin to rust in place, they become difficult or impossible to open and close. Keeping the windows clean, functional and attractive becomes more and more of a task.
Wood-Framed Basement Windows
A wood basement window typically has a painted wood frame that holds one or more panes of glass. Some wood basement windows have a sash that is operable, while other types can't be opened or closed.
Disadvantages of Wood-Framed Windows
Continual Maintenance: The paint on the window's exterior will break down continually. To keep these windows looking good, you'll need to repaint them every 5-8 years.
Short Lifespan: Wood basement windows are exposed to more water, mud, and humidity than other windows in your home. So while any window frame can be damaged by rot, this kind of damage occurs more quickly on wood basement windows.
Mold & Pests: Along with rot, wooden window frames will also support mold growth. And because basement windows are located so close to the ground, this damp, rotting wood can attract termites, carpenter ants, and other insects you don't want in your home.
Old-Fashioned Basement Window Wells
Older basement window wells are typically made from aluminum or steel and are most often installed in a half-oval shape that encloses your basement window.
Disadvantages to Old-Fashioned Window Wells
Poor Energy Efficiency: Without a well-fitted window well cover, snow and ice can fill the well, and cold outside air can enter your basement through leaks around the window frame. These conditions make the basement and upstairs living space chilly, forcing your furnace to work overtime. If you replace your old-fashioned window well with a new version that includes a clear cover, you gain valuable protection from frigid outdoor temperatures.
Short Lifespan: Steel window wells can rust and deteriorate quickly, leaving an ugly, corroded shell around each window. That's not the view you want from inside your basement.
Debris, Snow, and Rainwater: Open window wells will continually fill with dirt, leaves, debris, rainwater, and snow. As this debris builds up, weeds and even tree seedlings may begin to grow in the window wells. Along with the eyesore, water pooling in wells will build up against the basement windows. Most basement windows are not water-tight, so that water is likely to end up leaking through to your basement.
The Better Choice: Energy-Efficient Basement Windows from Thrasher
If your finished basement includes a bedroom or sleeping space, the building code requires a larger "egress" basement window to provide an emergency exit. Some homeowners elect to install this larger window just for the additional natural light it provides.
We can enlarge an existing basement window opening or cut a new opening for an egress window. We'll also install our specially designed egress window well, featuring built-in steps and corrosion-proof composite construction.
According to a report made by the U.S. Department Of Energy, homeowners living in colder climates can save up to 30-40% on their energy bills simply by sealing the windows inside their homes.
What windows could be draftier and less energy efficient than corroded, outdated basement windows? Between the rotted frame and that thin, single pane of glass, heat literally flows straight through -- and out of your home!
At Thrasher, we've selected our basement windows and window wells with energy efficiency and long-lasting quality in mind -- so you can make the most of your investment!
Our Basement Window System Features
(Click for more information about each problem.)
- A Durable Vinyl Frame
- Insulated (double-pane) Glass Low-E Coating
- Covered Basement Window Wells
- Sash Panels Remove for Easy Cleaning
Our basement window system is sure to stay looking brand new for many, many years. These all-vinyl windows require minimal cleaning and will never need the painting and maintenance of old-fashioned basement window systems.
Install Beautiful, Long-Lasting, and Energy-Efficient Basement Windows
At Thrasher, our products have been used to upgrade hundreds of thousands of basements worldwide for well over two decades. We'd like these award-winning products to make your home a more beautiful, comfortable, and valuable space.
To schedule a free, no-obligation basement window upgrade inspection, contact us by phone or email today! Your free inspection includes an on-site measurement, a written cost estimate, and a full-color copy of our basement book!
We serve the Nebraska, Western Iowa, Central & Western Kansas and Northwestern Missouri area, including Sioux City, Lincoln, Omaha and many other parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.