Egress Window Installation Tips

An egress window can allow more light into a room and it provide a safe escape route from an underground room like a basement. There are a few things to consider when installing an egress window.


Since an egress window is meant to be a safety device as well as a decorative element, the size of the window is important. It should be big enough to allow people to fit through the window to get out and allow firefighters and other emergency personnel to climb into the room.

For this reason, have an opening of at least 5.7 square feet. The window should be at least 24 inches wide and 20 inches high. Don’t place the window too high up, but ideally no more than 44 inches from the floor.

Water Drainage

Before installing an egress window, take into account any drainage issues you may have. Since the windows sit below the ground level, they will accumulate water quickly. Consider many drainage options as part of your window installation.

Buried Utilities

Before you break ground on the window or the well, have your local utility agency come out and mark the site of any underground lines. This should include electricity, gas, water and cable or phone lines. These companies will generally not charge to come mark the land. It’s much more expensive to have a cut line fixed than to just send someone out to stick a few flags in the ground.

Hinges or Gliders

Decide if you want egress windows that swing open, slide up or open like a sliding glass door. Keep in mind that hinged window that swings open will need a wide enough clearance to allow the window to swing and someone to get out. Because of this, these are not a popular option for this application. Sliding or gliding styles work better for egress windows.

Attached Ladder or Built In Steps

If your well will be large enough, consider using bricks or lumber to build decorative steps. Many turn the egress window well into a small garden or patio. This can be easily achieved and will make the window and the well look much nicer.

If you don’t want to go this far, you can just affix a metal ladder to the inside of the well. Check with your local zoning board to see what requirements your community has for ladders in egress windows, as most require some sort of ladder.

There are plenty of things to consider when you plan your window installation. You can usually get a pretty good idea of what you need without consulting an architect, but it may be a good idea before you break ground on your new egress window.