A Guide to the Windows Types used for Egress
Everything you need to know about all of the different types of windows in order to make an informed decision about which one to choose for your basement egress window.
No one said that renovating your basement would be easy. Even once you have a general idea for how you want the finished product to look, you still have about a thousand decisions to make. What stain would you like for the bar? What trim for the doors? Heck, you've even discovered that there are hundreds of options for the toilet you'll be installing in the bathroom.
We can't help you with these, but we can tell you everything that you need to know about the type of window that you should choose for your basement's egress window. Here are all the different window types used for egress that you could choose between as well as their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to passing egress.
Sliding windows are a very popular window type used for egress where the panes of glass slide along a track at the top and bottom of the window frame.
Strengths: Since sliding windows are not hinged, you do not need to worry about maintaining any clearance for a swinging sash.
Weaknesses: Egress code is based on the clear opening of a window. Since, only one side of the sliding window can be open at a given time, the clear opening will always be much smaller than the actual frame size. This means that to have a sliding window pass egress, it must be nearly twice as large as some other egress window options. While this will bring additional benefits such as added natural light, in most instances it will bring extra costs to enlarge the size of the window opening and the window well.
Single Hung Window
Single hung windows are a type of vertically sliding window where the bottom pane of glass slides up, creating an opening in the bottom portion of the frame.
Strengths: Similar to a sliding window, since the window is not hinged, you do not need to worry about allotting extra clearance for a swinging sash.
Weaknesses: Like a sliding window, a single hung window must be relatively large in order to pass egress. Again, this is because only one side will be able to provide a clear opening at a time. In the same way, this can add extra costs if your rough opening is not already large enough to house a window that large. Hung Windows are also generally vertically orientated (as opposed to horizontally for sliding windows). This can make them more difficult to incorporate into most basements than a horizontally oriented type of window.
Double Hung Window
Double hung windows are another type of window used for egress. The difference between double hung and single hung windows, is that both the top and bottom panes of a double hung window can be moved, creating openings at either the top or bottom of the frame.
Strengths: Once again, the lack of hinges means no extra clearance need be given for the swinging sash.
Weaknesses: Many people mistakenly believe that double hung windows solve the problem that plagues single hung windows about needing to be large to pass egress. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While both panes of a sliding window do move, only one half of the window can ever be fully open at a time. This leaves Double hung windows with the same space issue as single hung and sliders.
Out Swinging Casement
Out swinging casement egress windows are a type of side-hinged window used for egress where the sash swings outward from the house .
Strengths: Windows of this style do not need to be nearly as large as hung and slider windows to pass egress. This is because the entire sash can be opened, maximizing the size of the clear opening relative to the size of the frame itself.
Weaknesses: Due to their out-swinging nature, this type of window may block the potential escape route, particularly if the window is below grade and requires a window well. This may mean that you would have to enlarge the size of the window well in order for this type of window to meet egress code. Most egress codes require a minimum amount of clearance between the window well and the end of the fully open sash.
In Swinging Casement
What we call the side hinge egress window, is the same idea as an in swinging casement style. As the name suggests, it is a type of window used for egress that is hinged on the side and swings inwards.
Strengths: Similar to the out swinging casement style, an in swinging casement maximizes the clear opening dimensions relative to the frame size. This means that a much smaller window will be able to pass egress with than with a hung or sliding window. Additionally, the in-swinging nature is better suited for most egress projects, as it will not swing out into the window well area and potentially obstruct the escape route.
Weaknesses: In some rare cases, the layout of the home would prevent the side hinge window from opening fully. This could be the case if there is a wall very close to the window opening.
Side hinged, In swinging casements are our top recommendation for window types that should be used for egress.
Awning windows are out-swinging, top-hinged windows that, when open, resemble the awning to a building.
Strengths: For egress, since awnings are able to open fully, the clear opening is often not too much smaller than the full frame size. As a result, relative to other window types like sliders or hung windows, awnings can be much smaller. This can make them suitable for basements or other tight spaces that don't have large rough openings.
Weaknesses: However, their out-swinging nature can make them unsuitable for egress openings into a window well. Most egress regulation requires the well to extend out a certain distance from the open window. Therefore, to house an awning window, the well may need to be a few feet longer than for other window types.
Reverse Hopper Window
The reverse hopper window is a top-hinged window where the operating sash swings in towards your home.
Strengths: Much like the awning, side-hinge, and casement windows, a reverse hopper has the added benefit of a large clear opening relative to the size of the frame. Also, as it swings inwards, the open sash will not impede the exit out into the window well if one is present.
Weaknesses: In some cases the layout of the basement does not provide enough clearance for the reverse hopper to be fully opened. This can be the case if the window is too close to the ceiling to allow the sash to be opened fully.
Tilt and turn windows are a European style of window that has two operating functions: it can tilt open from the top or turn in from the side.
Strengths: While the tilt-and-turn has two functions, only the turn function matters for egress. This effectively makes it the same as the side hinge window: great because the clear opening is large relative to the frame and because it swings in.
Weaknesses: Tilt-and-turn windows can be quite expensive, making them generally unsuitable for budget conscious renovations. You also need to account for the swinging sash when considering how much clearance is available.
Are you trying to decide which type of egress window to install in your basement? The Great Egress Co stocks and sells side-hinge, reverse hopper, and tilt-and-turn basement egress windows. Plus, we will ship it straight to your door for no additional cost. Have a look at our collection to see the sizes we have in stock and how we might be able to help you finish your basement renovation project.
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