The basement is an area of the house that is below ground level. Basements are common amongst Canadian houses because the foundation of the house must be constructed below the frost line, and in colder climates, frost lines are deep and thus resulting in a larger constructed area below ground. The basement is not only used for storing utilities, but also frequently transformed to an additional bedroom to use or rent out. Therefore, having a basement window to allow light in becomes extremely important especially in such a space where exposure to sunlight is minimal.
The first thing to consider is the functionality of the basement. The basement may be a storage or laundry room, in which windows might not be needed. If the basement is intended to be a bedroom, an egress window is necessary for the habitable space, as required by the Public Health Act. A major function of the basement window is to provide an escape route for emergency situations. An egress window is one in which measurements complies with the fire code rules, having an unobstructed area of at least 0.35 square meter. (3.77 sq. ft.) with no dimension less than 380mm (15 in.). It also needs to be able to be opened from the inside and can be operated without any special knowledge. The basement egress window is usually installed with a window well with a ladder that makes it easier to escape.
Determining what the space will be used for will also allow you to gauge how much natural light you want in the basement, and ultimately decide the size and location of the window. Basement windows are essential in maximizing the natural light that comes through the room, which lacks in direct exposure of the sunlight unlike other rooms above ground level. It will also be an important source that provides ventilation in the confined area. Having ventilation from the basement windows will affect the humidity of the room, which is another element that should be taken into consideration, especially when basements often have significantly more moisture.
The weather of where the house is located should also be kept in mind, where rainy days can cause flooding or drainage issue, and colder climates will need better insulated windows. These will all have an impact on the material and type of window to be chosen. Lastly, even though basement windows might not be seen as conspicuously, the aesthetic appeal can still be a factor to be included in the overall house design.
After considering the different relevant factors, it is time to choose the specific type of window most suitable for your basement. Vinyl is a top choice for basement windows as it is rust-free and resistant to rotting from damp environments, such as humid basements. It is also able to withstand the impact caused by strong UV lights, as well as having great insulation that keeps the room warmer. The vinyl-made frames are durable and suitable for a variety of climate conditions, while having various options in colors and styles. This is also a relatively inexpensive choice.
Another reliable option is fiberglass windows. Fiberglass is also a durable material that is energy efficient under various weather conditions and low in maintenance. It wins in the design element with aesthetically appealing style on both the inside and outside, along with a number of colour options. Fiberglass window is indeed a strong material, however with an expensive price, being the main cost of this option.
Aluminum frames are strong, durable and inexpensive, which can also be easily personalized by painting any colour. However, it is probably not a great option for houses in Canada because the aluminum conducts heat easily, resulting in greater heat loss and thus making it a more popular choice for warmer climates.
One thing to keep in mind while choosing the basement window is to avoid the wooden material. Though wooden windows are known to be beautiful and strong, it is also very susceptible to rotting in the damp environment, and requires high maintenance. If you cannot decide the best option for your basement window, you can always consult the professionals, and remember to make sure that the egress windows adhere to the specific codes and measurements.
The basement doesn’t have to be a dark and worn out area of your house. With the help of some natural light, a fitting window and decorative pieces, the underground level can be transformed into a welcoming space. Curtains, shades or drapes can be attached to the window to add liveliness, especially with some bold choice of colours and patterns. Since the window will be very close to the ground, many people prefer to have blinds for privacy purposes. Valances can be great decorative pieces that adds style to the overall look of the room.
Many homeowners tend to put less focus into maintaining and replacing windows in the basement. However, it could be a place that can cause the most problems when not carefully taken care of. Basement windows need to be replaced when they are not working properly, breaks down, or starts rotting. Also make sure to keep an eye on any drainage or leakage issue. When replacing, remember to make exact measurements of the opening and consider any improvements or upgrades you want for the window’s function and look. Again, look for a professional if you are not confident with the replacement process.