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Thread: Replacing Basement Windows

  1. #1
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Land of Cheese

    Default Replacing Basement Windows

    My R.O. in the concrete is 32"x21".

    I can get a vinyl window 31-3/4 wide and install it directly into the concrete opening, sealing with a little spray foam and caulk, or I make and install a treated wood frame inside the R.O., and get a proportionally smaller window to fit inside the wood, which I think is a more traditional installation.

    I'm not sure what the advantages/disadvantages might be of one or the other other than the fact that wood always fails eventually.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2


    Wood always looks better, is a better insulator over vinyl, and our Anderson wooden windows lasted a long time, and looked great. This house, has vinyl and I hate them. They have cracked in places, isn't nearly as warm, and doesn't look as nice, and this house is about triple the value of the other, so go figure. Those are my thoughts.

  3. #3
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Land of Cheese


    Thanks for your input Cookie.

    Wood really does not insulate well, and since this is a basement window it will be right down at ground level, thus the reason I am looking at vinyl. For the other windows in the house I have used Aluminum clad Pella and Andersen windows.

    I like the appearance of the finished wood panes and trim on the inside of the house, and would not consider vinyl anywhere but in a basement for that reason.

    I'm just wondering if there is any benefit to using wood window bucks in this application?

  4. #4


    Oh, this is a basement window, oh, I would do a glass block with a vent. Honestly, they are cheap enough, pretty easy to do, ( I do ours) and I think, it insulates well enough, and the vent is enough to vent anything you need to. Did you think about glass block? Plus, it adds some privacy.

  5. #5
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Land of Cheese


    I just cut out the vented glass block and threw it away.
    During the winter there was ice on the inside of the glass and the vent window leaked air like a sieve.

    I need a full window opening to get lumber, kayaks, and similar items in and out of the basement.
    It's cheaper than building another garage too.
    Last edited by cacher_chick; 05-03-2011 at 07:54 PM.

  6. #6


    One more try, lol. What about making it into a door?

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member bjferri555's Avatar
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    May 2011


    I have Simonton vinyl replacements and love them. Google them and go to their website. I believe they are the best in the industry.

  8. #8


    Hi cacher_chick,
    What did you end up doing with these windows? I am now facing the same dillema with a 36x38" opening, and wanted to know if I should build a treated lumber frame, or set directly into the concrete R.O. (stone, in my situation). You mentioned spray foam and caulk, are these just for weatherproofing? How would you go about mechanically attaching the concrete to the opening (in the scenario where no buck is built)?

    #30 felt, flashing, capping, caulk, Greatstuff foam, all of these things are really confusing to me. I am sure it's much simpler to see it done, but reading is so confusing. What is the proper way to replace the windows?

    Also, flange? or no flange? I will be finishing the basement, but it is currently unfinished. Thanks for any help!

  9. #9


    Also, I just read about using (minimally) expanding foam spray to set windows in concrete/stone, and that it's strong enough to hold the window in place, but can warp the track if you aren't careful. Is this correct? Did I miss something? If this is possible, it seems it would be SO much easier than building a perfectly plumb buck, leveling it, attaching to stone, etc.

    Only problem I can see there (and with the concrete) is, if there's no wood, what do you nail the aluminum window wrapping to ? Do you even use wrapping? or something else?

  10. #10
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    New England


    Had you considered a fiberglass window? At least one company makes them with a woodgrain interior that can be stained and finished, or you can get them in white or at least one other color. I don't have basement windows, but did have some of these installed and so far, they've worked out fine.

    Windows typically come in one of two types: new construction and replacement. A replacement is designed to reuse the existing frame and trim, a new construction one must be anchored into the framework. You wouldn't want to rely only on spray foam adhesive...you need some anchors. You can use the foam to seal and insulate any gaps, but it must be covered by some trim for both appearances and longevity.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member chefwong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    District of Columbia


    My old house - I had Owens Corning Fiberglass Windows. Overtime, little areas here are there became brittle...FWIW.
    Personally, I've a huge fan of Marvin Ultimate windows..

  12. #12
    DIY Member Agu's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Tampa, FL


    First thing to do is determine if the opening is square and plumb. If it is there's no need to frame it out. If it's square there's no need for a flanged window, you'll be attaching it directly to the concrete or stone with Tapcons or similar connectors. If it's out of square/plumb framing it out is the better plan. Depending on the dimensions of the framing you may or may not be using a flanged window. Research windows to determine how wide the framing needs to be if you frame and go with a flanged window. Realize framing out the opening reduces the size of window you'll be able to install.

    Window material depends on you. Wood is the best insulator but basement windows get harsh treatment from the elements. Are you the type to maintain the window and be sure it's properly caulked and painted on a regular basis ? If not, skip wood. Next hardiest are aluminum windows, and the need minimal maintenance. However they're not as energy efficient as the alternatives. If you're looking at multiple basement windows vinyl or fiberglass may be a better choice for energy efficiency.

    Personally if I were installing basement windows, aluminum would be my first choice because they hold up to humidity and heat/cold with the least maintenance. Second choice is wood, but only if they have to look good too.

  13. #13


    Ok, a picture's worth a thousand words.. so heres a few pictures to help you guys understand the situation.

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  15. #15


    Ok, the first 6 pictures are the front of the house. As you can see, there are 3 windows like this, right next to each other (8-10" apart). The last 4 are in the back of the house, and the foundation there is deeper than in the front.

    There seems to be a 2x4 type wood around the left/right side of the front windows (see 3rd pic), but I'm not even sure if that's part of the window itself, or a buck. SHould I remove it ? It looks like there's brick, then concrete stuffed between the wood and brick. My guess is if I remove that wood, I'll have to remove the concrete too, correct?

    I really don't care what the window looks like, no need for wood or anything fancy. I just want something durable that will last. Are any of the windows at lowes/HD any good? I haven't had a chance to go to lowes yet, and Home Depot carries the American Craftsman (which I heard are crap). They are vinyl, double glazed, and super cheap (<$120 each, 36"x38"). I suspect they must be garbage at this price though.

    TO clear this up, wood is out of the question. This is eventually going to become a rental property, and I wouldn't be painting/caulkng the windows regularly. So, it's between Aluminum, fiberglass, and vinyl.

    I've watched a few "window installation" videos. Drilling/installing Tapcon in Brick, or CMU is easy. Drilling a stone foundation, not so easy. It looks like I meet brick in the front windows, but the back is stone. I am anticipating a problem here, attaching the window or even the buck to the stone foundation.

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