Get The Best Replacement Windows for Basements: Which Type to Pick?

Basements always come with some interesting challenges when it comes to windows. Maybe you want a window that you can escape through, in case there is a family emergency. Or maybe you want some extra natural light for your underground space. Maybe you want windows that will keep moisture out.

The perfect window can make or break a basement space. After all, the windows are the only source of light for your basement area.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the best basement window types for you to choose from for your new basement windows.

How Are Basement Windows Different?

basement
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Basements rely solely on windows for their lighting. And lights, of course. Other rooms in your home can get natural light very easily because you’ll have windows everywhere. With basements, you usually just have a few.

Without windows, basements can be quite dreary and gloomy looking. With the proper types of windows, you basement can become a lively place for your family to hang out or for your entertainment room.

Artificial lights can brighten up the place, but nothing gives you energy like natural light does.

Basement Window Replacement Types

The type of window that you’ll end up going with depends on the basement that you have.

For example, if your basement is an unfinished basement that’s primarily used for extra storage in your home, choosing a fancy window probably isn’t at the top of your priority list.

If you have a finished basement that your family will use regularly, then being more selective with your windows makes more sense.

So before looking at window types, make sure you know the purpose of your basement space.

Casement Windows for Basements

casement window double frame
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If you’re looking for a window that lets in a ton of light and is big enough to be an egress window, a casement window might be the one for you.

Note: An egress window is a window that meets legal requirements that allow you and your family escape your home in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or flood. These requirements typically state the minimum height and width that a window needs to be able to open. 

It’s super energy efficient because it closes all the way with airtight compression seals. It’s also easy to open via a crank, and they’re impossible to break in from the outside.

Casement windows can open up all the way, which can drastically improve the air circulation of your basement. However, you need a good amount of space outside of your window for it to open up all the way, as it opens outward like a door.

graphic of closed vs open casement window

The downside of choosing a casement window is that it takes up a lot of vertical space. If your basement doesn’t have a lot of above-ground space, then a casement window won’t work.

Because of this, casement windows work better for new constructions of basements rather than basement window replacements.

For additional reading on casement windows:

Awning Windows for Basements

Awning window
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If your home doesn’t quite have enough above-ground space for a casement window, then an awning window could be a good fit. Awning windows typically have a more horizontal shape compared to casement windows.

Awning windows are very similar to casement windows in the way that they open. You use a crank. Instead of opening it sideways, it’ll hinge and open outwards from the top.

Because of the direction that they hinge, you won’t get rain entering your basement even if you have your window open while it rains.

Awning windows are great for letting in natural light while protecting your basement from rain, snow, and windows. You also get great air circulation and airflow too.

Compared to a casement window, however, an awning window may not meet egress requirements if an emergency does happen.

Hopper Windows for Basements

If you don’t like the way awning windows open, then maybe try considering a hopper window.

It also opens via a hinge and a crank, but unlike awning windows, it hinges on the bottom and inwards instead of outwards. There are different options where you can get hopper windows that open outwards too.

If you don’t have a lot of outside space for your window to open outwards, hopper windows can fix that problem instantly.

Hopper windows are great for air circulation and natural light too.

However, it does not protect your home from rain and snow compared to awning windows.

Similar to awning windows, hopper windows are also on the smaller side and may not meet egress requirements.

Casement, hopper, and awning windows are all energy efficient because they have airtight seals when closed.

Sliding Windows for Basements

Sliding windows are another option for amazing natural light. These windows tend to be longer horizontally than tall.

These windows open by sliding on sash over the other. It doesn’t provide as much airflow as the other window types because you can’t open up the entire window opening.

Sliders are very easy to open. You just unlatch the lock, and then pull or push it open. They don’t need any additional space outside or inside because they don’t tilt.

This makes them very space-efficient. However, compared to the other window options, they are not as energy efficient because they don’t use airtight compression seals. They need to be able to slide after all.

Sliding windows are quite affordable as well, which makes them a popular option for basement windows.

Because sliding windows are on the bigger side, they can meet egress requirements quite easily. Keep in mind that one side of the sliding window is fixed, so it can’t be opened.

Fixed Windows for Basements

picture window
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Fixed windows, also called picture windows, are great for letting in light without worrying about opening.

This can be a downside or an upside. On the upside, picture windows have great energy efficiency because there are no moving parts. They also can’t be broken into because they don’t open.

On the downside, they don’t improve air circulation in your basement at all because they’re closed.

Fixed windows are more affordable than most windows because they’re super easy to install and manufacture. If your basement requires egress windows, then a fixed window isn’t recommended.

Single-Hung and Double-Hung Windows for Basements

Single-hung and double-hung windows are not commonly seen in basements, but they are still an option for basements that have more above-ground space.

Both of these windows slide vertically to open up, which means they are very tall windows.

They don’t open fully like basement windows do, but they still offer plenty of air circulation when open, especially double-hung windows.

single-hung vs double-hung window

With a double-hung window, you can slide both sashes to create two openings. Cool air can come in through the bottom opening and then warm air can leave through the top, creating a nice breeze for your basement space.

Both of these provide plenty of natural light as well with how big they are. These windows are super easy to maintain and clean, since they have sashes that can tilt inwards. Opening them is easy too, just slide them up and down. Typically, they have sash locks that can improve the security of your basement.

A downside to single-hung and double-hung windows is that because there are moving sashes, the energy efficiency of these two window types isn’t as good compared to casement, awning, or hopper windows.

To read more about single-hung and double-hung windows:

Glass Block Windows for Basements

Glass block windows are a subset of fixed windows because they also cannot open and close. They were popular in the early 1900s, but nowadays are less common.

These are very easy to install, and you can probably do this without even hiring a local contractor.

Glass block windows are thick blocks of glass that offer you plenty of privacy and natural light. The glass blocks can range between 2″-5″ deep, sometimes more. They are not transparent, so you don’t get a clear view of the outdoors.

This makes it perfect for basements though. People can’t just look into your basement and see what’s going on down there through your glass block windows.

They are weatherproof and maintenance-free since there’s no moving parts.

There are downsides to using glass block windows though. For one, they’re made of glass, which is very breakable over time. If your neighbor hits a golf ball at your window, your glass isn’t going to be standing afterwards.

Another downside is that they don’t let in all of the light either. If your basement relies a lot on natural light to look good, glass block windows might not be the way to go. They tend to have a cloudy look to them.

Get in Contact with a Professional Contractor

If you’re thinking about replacing your basement windows, it’s best to talk to a local professional contractor.

Even if you sort of know what you want already, a contractor can take a look and tell you about all of your options as well as give you an estimate for how much each window type would cost.

Make sure to get multiple estimates to get the best price for your home improvement project. You could save a lot of money!

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