The Great Escape: Egress Doors and Window Wells
If your basement includes habitable space, it is required to have a means of egress for safe escape. Here’s how we chose the right doors and window wells for the luxuriously outfitted basement at the TOH 2018 Idea House.
Set 6 feet below ground level, the basement of the TOH 2018 Idea House was designed for entertaining, with a fully loaded home gym, a Finnish sauna, and a media room perfect for movie nights and gaming. So it was important to us that the space would not only have the egress required by code but would also give us easy access to the backyard patio, allow lots of light to stream in, and add to the charm and style of the home. We turned to the experts at The BILCO Company, who suggested a two-pronged approach.
Classic steel basement doors meet IRC 2018 building code requirements for emergency egress in finished basement living areas. And their wide openings allow you to easily move large seasonal items (like bikes and patio furniture) into and out of the basement when not in use. BILCO basement doors come in several material and finish options to complement any home.
NOTE FOR BASEMENT REMODELERS: If you add a sleeping room or other habitable space to an older home, you’ll need to add an egress window or door, even if there was no egress before. And it must open easily to the outside, without any need for keys or tools.
For the TOH 2018 Idea House, we chose the BILCO Classic Series steel basement doors in a factory-applied polyester powder-coat finish that provides a durable, weather-resistant coating. Cured at higher temperatures than most wet coatings, the result is a tougher, chip-resistant coating, providing a finish that’s both decorative and protective.
TIP: The doors can also be purchased with just a primer finish that you can paint yourself, as we did last year for the 2017 Beach House in East Matunuck, Rhode Island (see photo below).
BILCO’s Ultra Series polyethylene doors provide safe and code-compliant basement access, weather-tight performance, and easy operation—all with virtually no maintenance. The Ultra Series door will never rust, rot, or need painting. Its simulated-wood texture and pleasing driftwood color will complement the exterior of any home, and the interchangeable side-panel inserts allow homeowners to easily add light or ventilation to their basement.
Type SLW Steel
Type SLW doors are designed for installation on areaways with sloped sidewalls built into the home’s foundation. Doors can be installed on sidewalls of brick, stone, block, or poured concrete and are supplied with instructions and hardware for proper installation.
Egress Window Wells
An egress window is any window that is large enough to allow for emergency exit or entry; a second benefit is that the window and its well bring in much-needed light and ventilation, too. BILCO offers two designs to choose from: a system in which the modules are stacked to accommodate foundation height, or a step design that can be landscaped with plants or flowers.
The modular system is one of the fastest and least expensive ways to add code-compliant emergency egress to any basement area. Simply “stack” the modules (four-module stack shown) to accommodate your foundation height and add natural daylight to your finished basement. BILCO’s StakWEL features a unique “Grip/Step” design to aid emergency egress and provides corrosion-resistant performance at “steel-like” window well prices.
We selected the ScapeWEL Window Well for use here at the TOH 2018 Idea House. Its innovative step design aids egress and can be landscaped with plants or flowers for added visual enhancement. ScapeWEL features maintenance-free high-density polyethylene construction and is available in a number of sizes to accommodate virtually any foundation height or window dimension.
BILCO is the original name in basement doors, producing unmatched quality products for over 90 years. To find the right egress products for your home, visit bilco.com/residential.