Windows: Sliders, Hoppers, Awnings or Glass Blocks

jacyJuly 29, 2008


I'm trying to decide which way to go for replacement basement windows and hoping people with chime in with their real-world experiences.

Currently have 7 rotted wood inward-opening awning windows in a 60yo brick/block raised ranch in midwest. Other house windows are mix of vinyl casement and double-hungs. All but one of the basement windows are visible from the interior living (recreational) open space. That 'hidden' window in the laundry room will be my dedicated egress window, probably that hopper-style thing. It's not to code because the sill (which is even with the exterior grade) is 48" above the floor, but at 38"w x 26"h it'll do in an emergency. (Basement was finished 40 years ago by previous owner.)

Three windows on are the street side (very visible from sidewalk,) two are in privacy-fenced backyard, other two (including the egress) are on the side next to neighbor.

The issues...


The two windows in the backyard are behind a privacy fence on the street side, chain link to the other. Although I'm on a city lot and thisclose to my neighbor, it's still a concern. I've two sets of motion detector floods on all the time, one of these directly over the basement windows but those are pretty easily broken so not sure that's much help.


I would really, really like to open the windows from time to time. Love fresh air in the basement whenever possible.


Not a fan of frosted glass and I currently have blinds. However, being on a corner in an urban area, there are lots of walkers a mere 6' away from my windows day and night. :/

Thermal Efficiency

The usual concerns with keeping a basement warm during winter months.


This is far from a high-end house but I'm really working on the curb appeal and want to keep an eye toward this, particularly since I'm on a corner. We basically live in the basement so interior appeal is important, too.

The choices...


The ones I've seen so far have an all-or-nothing approach to ventilation; they're either open 4" or not. Opening inward from the top presents privacy challenges with window treatments. Seem to be very vulnerable security-wise and add-on locks kludgy. Thermal protection is middle-of-the-road. Cheap, cheap.


Not really interested due to weakest thermal protection. Privacy easy to deal with from a window treatment perspective, even when windows are open. Aesthetically blends well with other house windows, and lots of add-on security options. Cheap.


Thermal protection good, security pretty tight out-of-the-box but not many options for improving on it. Aesthetically pleasing on the exterior, and the open-out-from-bottom configuration works with window treatments for privacy. Spendy.

Glass Block

Not my favorite from an aesthetic standpoint, inside or out, however I must admit that with no window treatments in the way, getting the most light into the cave is good. Good thermal protection (with an inert gas in the blocks) is hampered by addition of a pitiful little hopper for ventilation, and how much venting does one really gain in return for the thermal hit? Privacy is tops with occluded glass. I'd thought security was the best as they'd be mortared in place, until a fireman friend told me how quickly and quietly they gain entry through glass block windows on a regular basis. (As he says, if they want in, they're gonna get in, no matter what kind of window you have, so keep security on your list but don't make it your number one determining factor.) Middling price.

From a purely functional perspective I think I'd go with awnings but I think I'd need to find a few more drawbacks to the other options in order to justify the price differential.

Any other factors I've not considered? Things you love or hate about your own newly-replaced basement windows?

Thanks much,


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This is out-of-the-box thinking, but here goes.

You could always put a metal security grate over the outside window well and have a hidden plunger switch to trip an alarm if a would-be burglar ever lifted it to get in.

Then put in the window(s) you like best.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 9:14AM
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Thanks. I may end up with some sort of alarm system anyway, so this was helpful.

In the end I went with (single) sliders, which was originally at the bottom of my list, almost out of consideration. Got my ventilation, window treatments, curb appeal and there are actually many more add-on security options for sliders than hoppers or awnings. The awnings were just too pricey.

Getting estimates now. Started with Home Depot's @ Home Service and got a quote of $3030 for American Craftsman six sliders and one hopper (my egress in the laundry room.) I know there's a real love 'em or hate 'em thing with HD but I did have some minor kitchen work done a while back and had an excellent installation experience.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 6:37AM
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