Choosing the Right Size Egress Window for Your Space

Choosing the right size egress window for your space is the primary task for many while building a living space in their homes. It is an important consideration, as it can help to ensure that the window is effective in providing a safe escape route and that it meets all applicable legal requirements.

In the United States, the International Residential Code (IRC) is the most widely adopted building code, and it sets forth the minimum requirements for egress windows in residential buildings. According to the IRC, every basement bedroom must have at least one egress window, and the window must be large enough to allow for easy exit in case of an emergency. The minimum width and height of the egress window must be at least 20 inches and 24 inches, respectively, and the minimum net clear opening (the actual opening that a person can use to exit the building) must be at least 5.7 square feet.

It is important to note that some states and localities may have more stringent requirements for egress windows. For example, they may require that egress windows be larger than the minimum size specified in the IRC, or they may have additional requirements related to the type of window that can be used. It is important to check with local building codes and ordinances to ensure that all egress window requirements are being met.

To browse a more in-depth layout of the IRC's egress window regulations, check out our IRC walkthrough. We also have specific regional code pages on our website such as New York, Oregon, Virginia, etc. See "regions" in our drop down menu to explore.

2021 International Residential Code Loose Leaf

Determining the Size of the Egress Window Needed

To determine the size of the egress window needed for your space, you will need to consider both the minimum requirements set forth in the IRC and any additional requirements set by local building codes. The first step is to calculate the minimum required size based on the IRC guidelines. This can be done using a simple formula: width + height = minimum egress window size. For example, if the width of the window is 20 inches and the height is 24 inches, the minimum egress window size would be 44 inches (20 + 24 = 44). 

In addition to the minimum size requirements, there are several other factors that you should consider when determining the optimal size for your egress window. These include:

  • The size of the room: If the room is larger or has more occupants, you may want to consider a larger egress window to ensure that everyone is able to safely exit in case of an emergency.
  • The height of the window: The height of the window should be such that it is easily accessible from the floor or a low platform.
  • The location of the window: The window should be located in such a way that it provides the quickest and safest route of escape in case of an emergency.

Once you have determined the size of the egress window needed, you can begin considering the style of the window. In the next section, we will discuss the various options available and the factors to consider when making these decisions.

Choosing the Right Style for the Egress Window

At The Great Egress Co., we currently provide two window styles to consider. These include:

Side Hinge Egress Window

 Side Hinge: These windows are hinged on one side and open inward. Side hinge windows are strong and durable, meaning they can support the weight of larger sashes. This is important to consider depending on your local building code.

 This larger size also comes with the benefit of greater natural ventilation and natural light. This may be especially beneficial in spaces which may not have much such as basements.

Reverse Hopper Egress Window


Reverse Hopper: These windows are hinged at the top and open inward from the bottom. They are a good option for spaces with limited headroom, as they do not require much clearance when opened. This makes them a great choice for spaces with limited floor space, such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. Additionally, in terms of aesthetics, reverse hopper windows can add a modern and contemporary look to a space.

 Before purchasing a reverse hopper, one must consider the space between the top of the frame and the ceiling. Our reverse hopper windows prop up in two spots. Opening this will require the sash to lift to an angle above 90°, meaning it will not open if not given several inches of space from the ceiling.

It is important to note that our reverse hoppers will not currently fit egress in the United States because of size and weight limitations. However, you can still have them shipped to you off our website if you’d prefer to use them for their aesthetic functionality.

Professional Installation and Maintenance

Egress windows are an important safety feature, and it is essential that they are properly installed and maintained. It is highly recommended to have egress windows installed by a qualified professional to ensure that they are properly secured and meet all applicable legal requirements.

In addition to professional installation, it is important to regularly maintain your egress windows to ensure that they are in good working order. This may include cleaning the windows, inspecting the hardware, and making any necessary repairs. By properly maintaining your egress windows, you can help to ensure that they are ready to serve as a safe escape route in case of an emergency.


Choosing the right size egress window for your space is an important consideration, as it can help to ensure that the window is effective in providing a safe escape route and that it meets all applicable legal requirements. When selecting the style of your egress window, it is important to consider factors such as durability, code compliancy, and aesthetics. Professional installation and regular maintenance are also key to ensuring that your egress window is in good working order and ready to serve as a safe escape route in case of an emergency.

Have any questions? Reach out to us and we'll be sure to assist your in any way we can. If you're looking to add an egress window to your home, feel free to browse our shop. We offer various sizes with fast, free shipping anywhere in North America.

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