Feel safer at home with high-quality egress window installation for a convenient exit during an emergency escape. In this article, you’ll learn everything about the installation process, types of basement windows, and much more.

Start the installation process for an egress window by getting a quote from any of the providers below.

What Is an Egress Window?

An egress window is a large window in a living space that can be used for emergency exits and entrances. They usually include a ladder or steps for convenient escape in the event of a fire, for example.

These replacement windows appear like a regular window but open fully. Not only does this provide access for easy ease in emergencies, but you may choose to install egress windows to increase ventilation in a basement or natural light in your home. This type of window also adds an attractive finish to your home to improve the look of your space.

Basement Egress Window Specifications and Choices

When upgrading your basement windows, there are some specifications and requirements to keep in mind. For example, the International Residential Code (IRC) outlines that every converted or habitual space in a basement must have an egress window.

Finished Basement Window Size Requirements

The bottom of the egress basement window mustn’t exceed 44 inches from the floor of the basement. This allows homeowners access to enter and exit the window via a ladder or step ladder.

Additionally, the egress window opening shouldn’t be smaller than 5.7 square feet for enough room for people to pass through. You can check these size dimensions by checking that the window opening is at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide.

Light Access

The IRC also states that the glass part of the window should be at least eight percent of the entire floor area to allow natural light to enter. You can reach this minimum requirement with the egress window along with additional windows in the basement.

Also, the window opening should be at least four percent of the floor space for optimal ventilation.

Number of Windows Required

A basement must have at least one egress window. However, basements with numerous rooms must have at least one egress window per room. Your basement even requires an egress window in basements with a bedroom and a patio door.

Types of Egress Windows for Basements

Here are some of the various choices for basement egress windows, including their advantages and disadvantages.

Single-Hung or Double-Hung

These windows have two separate sashes with a frame for each. This interior sash allows the upper sash to move up or down to unlock it. Single-hung windows have a lower sash that moves up or down to open the window. Alternatively, a double-hung window lets you move both sashes to open the bottom or top of the window.

Consider that these egress windows aren’t the best option for low basements because they require a large amount of vertical space.


Casement egress windows are the best option if you don’t want the window to take up a lot of wall space. They’re a popular option for large rooms since they swing outward like a door.

Compared to single-hung or double-hung windows, casement egress windows produce a large opening that’s almost as big as the rough opening to maximize your space. Also, as they have a crank-style mechanism, they’re easier to operate and have a slimmer frame to encourage more natural light to enter.


These windows open inward and have latches that securely hold it closed. Once the latches release, the window opens toward the basement, which is ideal if you don’t have much outdoor space near your basement. However, you must ensure that there’s enough clearance inside your basement for it to open.


A sliding egress window contains two glass panes and usually has more width than height. This is great for basement windows with limited vertical space.

These windows have a thin frame, which allows more light to enter. You can also open them quickly and easily, as the roller provides a smooth slide along a track, providing plenty of ventilation.

Egress Window Codes and Regulations

There are certain building codes and regulations that an upstairs or basement egress window must meet. Here are some important codes and regulations to keep in mind.

Window Requirements

  • Minimum height from the floor: 44 inches
  • Minimum opening area: 5.7 square feet
  • Minimum opening height: 24 inches
  • Minimum opening width: 20 inches
  • Minimum glass area: Eight percent of the total floor area of the room it’s connected to
  • Minimum opening area: Four percent of the total floor area of the room it’s adjacent with

Window Well Requirements

  • Window well requirement: Where the bottom of the egress window is lower than ground level
  • Egress well installation: It must not obstruct the window fully opening
  • Distance from the back of the window: At least 36 inches to the back of the egress well
  • Minimum area of the well: At least nine square feet

Ladders or Steps Requirements

  • Minimum window well depth: 44 inches
  • Ladders or steps: Must be permanently attached
  • Maximum distance between rings of the ladder: 18 inches
  • Distance from the back wall: Three–six inches

How To Install an Egress Window

Below, we’ll help you to understand everything about the installation process to create a safe escape route.

Hire a Contractor for Masonry Wall Cuts

A professional contractor can remove bricks from a foundation wall. This process involves cutting out a brick using a masonry chisel and a hammer to remove each brick between the holes in a straight-cut line. To do so, you’ll need to angle the chisel toward the waste brick to prevent damaging the parts of the brick that remains.

While it’s possible to complete this task yourself, we recommend hiring a professional contractor because it requires a lot of skill and can be dangerous due to the heavy tools involved.

DIY Egress Window Installation

Install your new window yourself with this step-by-step guide.

Prep and Plan Your Window

Before you purchase the window and begin with installation, measure the interior and exterior space where you intend to install the egress window. Refer to the requirements we outlined earlier to help with the minimum and maximum measurements for egress windows.

Dig the Hole

You’ll need a few hours to dig out the hole, making sure it’s 14 inches below the bottom of the window to ensure your drainage system can function properly.

Rent a Concrete Saw

Once you’ve dug a hole, you’ll need a concrete saw to make the opening in your foundation wall larger. It’s worth hiring a professional for this step (even though it’s an expense) to prevent any significant damage.

A professional can remove the bricks easier and prevent you from doing the job and getting injured.

Concrete Cutting Safety Precautions

To start, cut a concrete block on the outside wall using a diamond blade concrete saw. Use a ½-inch deep groove, and complete the cut on a second pass.

Once you’ve cut the concrete from the outside, switch to the interior (where you’ll see a large amount of dust). All the while, wear safety goggles and a mask to protect your face and eyes from dust. You can also slightly wet the saw to reduce some of the dust released.

Remove the Block

Use a three- or four-pound hammer to knock out the brick, working from the top to the center and then downward. Focus on the center of each brick rather than the edges because this can damage any bricks that remain in the wall. This method is also great practice for stubborn bricks that are difficult to remove.

Tidy Up the Hole

You want the window hole to be smooth with no jagged edges. Use a brick chisel to remove any harsh edges, making sure that you check the measurements so the opening is big enough for the frame and window.

Fill the Blocks with Concrete

If you notice block cores in your foundation, fill them with concrete. Before you apply it in the holes, you can place blocks of newspaper in the core to prevent the concrete from spilling down the wall.

Mark the Center for the Well

Use a pen to mark where the center of your new egress window will be for a reference point. For an easier way to do this, use your existing window as a guide.

Know the Well’s Size

There are specific sizes that a well needs to be, so take into account how far down the window can extend. As a general thumb, we suggest making the hole two inches wider on either side and one inch longer.

Dig the Well

Use a shovel to remove the dirt out of the wall and add it to a wheelbarrow for easier transportation later. You can use this dirt to fill around the well later, so don’t dispose of it.

Install the Well Walls

Well walls can look different for every homeowner with the option of brick, wood, or stone. You can also install a metal wall for more security — the choice is up to you. No matter your decision, ensure that the wall is pressed firmly into the foundation for a sturdy installation.

Add Gravel

Apply gravel to the inside and outside of the window well, patting it down with a shovel. Spread the gravel evenly with a three-inch layer at the bottom. Make sure that the gravel is lower than the windowsill to prevent it from leaking into your home and prevent floods in your basement.

Use the Dirt

With the dirt you saved earlier, pour one inch of it outside of the wall, pressing it down with your foot. This helps to make sure the soil is tightly packed around the well. Keep three layers free on the top layer so water and dirt won’t leak through the window well.

Buying a Factory-Made Window Well for Easier Installation

It’s easier and less time-consuming to buy a pre-built window well. Once you’ve made an opening for the window frame, smooth and fill any uneven surfaces surrounding the opening. The masonry opening should be as smooth as possible for a secure fit.

Apply some mortar to the slope at the bottom of the opening to allow water to drain outside of your home. You might need to insert shims between the masonry and the window frame, all the while taking care to avoid water intrusion.

Then, install the window well by fastening the window’s flanges to the framed opening on the outside. Be careful to use screws that won’t corrode in bad weather. Once your window is positioned in place, install the outside trim with boards. If you’re looking for professional help for installing egress windows, contact the providers below for a free quote.

Egress Basement Window Cost

The average price for materials for an egress basement window is $100–$700 per window plus $100–$250 per window for installation. Additionally, if you need to cut through a wall to install the window(s), this will usually set you back $1,500–$3,000 per window.

There are some factors that affect the cost of an egress window, including the window size and type, the number of windows required, window removal, materials, and labor costs.

Egress Window Cost Installed

Egress window installation costs around $2,500 to $5,300 with the average cost being $3,904.

A window in a home
Unsplash/Ozgu Ozden

Final Thoughts: Is Egress Window Installation Worth It?

Egress window installation is certainly worth it for home improvement and for peace of mind in case of an emergency. They allow natural light to enter your basement and can transform a dark room into a well-lit area.

These windows also add value to your house, making them an excellent investment in the long run.

FAQs About Installing an Egress Window

How long does it take to put egress windows in?

On average, it can take three days to install an egress window from start to finish. The first day involves excavation with the second day involving cutting the foundation. Finally, the last day involves installing the window as well as any other major work.

Can you convert a basement window to an egress window?

You can use the same framing specifications for your egress window, which can actually make the entire installation process easier.

Can you install an egress window yourself?

Absolutely! DIY is a sure way to save yourself some money. But it’s best if you have experience in manual labor, and there are some jobs that are best to hire a professional.

Do egress windows weaken the foundation?

Improperly cutting the egress window opening can definitely weaken your home’s foundation. The newly cut opening is integral to maintaining your foundation’s structure.

Does an egress window add value to a home?

Yes! Installing an egress window can add a huge amount of value to your home, and it provides an opportunity to legally convert a basement into another bedroom.

Editorial Contributors
Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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