DIY Basement Window Wells

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a basement that is dark and uninviting, basement window wells provide the answer to your lighting problems. To install a window into an underground basement, you will need to install a window well--a retaining wall that holds the dirt back from the window. Window wells can be brick, concrete, metal, wood or plastic Plastic and metal window wells are prefabricated and set into place, while wood, concrete, and masonry window wells are constructed on site.

Metal Window Well

Metal window wells are usually built from galvanised materials. Although most are rounded, you can purchase square metal window wells. Remove any dirt outside of the window with a pick and a shovel. You will need to remove enough dirt so that the window well will set in place just below the bottom of the window sill--about 6 inches. Attach the window well to the wall using Tapcon concrete screws, or, if you are installing into wood, use 1/4-inch anchor bolts. Fill back in around the window well with dirt and landscape.

Concrete and Masonry Window Well

Concrete and masonry window wells are among the strongest and most durable of the possibilities. You will need to dig down below the bottom of the window sill 12 inches to allow for a footer. The footer doesn't need to be thick--6 to 8 inches will do. Once the footer is in place, form three walls--two sides and a back--that will hold off the dirt like a retaining wall. Concrete block can be installed and stuccoed or painted, or you can cover veneer the blocks with stick on stone or bricks.

Wooden Window Well

A wooden window well can be installed using large timbers that will resist rot--usually old cross ties or cedar or cypress timbers will do. Dig the dirt out to the size that you want the window well to be. First install the back side timbers--timbers directly opposite the basement window. Stack them on top of each other and attach them together using large timber nails. Install the two sides left and right of the window and make sure that they are cut perfectly to length, from the basement wall to the back wall of timbers. This will hold the back side timbers in place. Attach L-brackets onto the timber ends at the basement wall using wood screws and Tapcon concrete screws.

Bottom of Window Well

Add decorative gravel to the bottom of the window wells after you have constructed the sides. You may also add pavers or even grass and flowers.

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About the Author

Billy McCarley has been freelancing online since April 2009. He has published poetry for Dead Mule, an online literary publication, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University Of Alabama where he is also a first-year graduate student in history.