What is an Egress Window and do I need one?

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E·GRESS: a means or place of going out, an exit.

An egress window is a window large enough, as defined by local business codes for entry or exit in case of an emergency. These are typically required when finishing a basement and are paired with an Egress Well with attached ladder or steps for easy escape.

Window well escape systems may be a safety requirement, but you don’t have to sacrifice your basement’s beauty to comply with the code! Wellcraft offers a complete system that turns your basement into a bright, comfortable living room or bedroom at the same time ensuring the safety of those inside.

Egress Compliance

All Wellcraft Egress Window Wells comply with the International Residential Code (IRC) 2006 Egress code for one and two family dwelling. Following are some of the highlights of the IRC 2006 Code (Section R310) as it pertains to windows below ground level. See your local building inspector with questions regarding code requirements in your area.

Windows: Sill height of window above floor: Not to exceed 44″

Minimum opening area: 5.7 sq. ft.
Minimum opening height: 24″
Minimum opening width: 20″

Window Wells/Area Wells:
Required where window opening sill height is below
ground elevation.

Horizontal dimensions: 9 sq.ft.
Horizontal projection: 36″

Ladders: Required on window wells deeper than 44″ and must be permanently attached. Ladder may encroach into well up to 6″.

Step distance between rungs: 18″ Rungs: 12″ wide or greater and must project a minimum of 3″ away from wall but maximum of 6″.

Grates: Shall be removable without special tools.

Code sponsored by: The International Code Council (ICC), the Building Officials Code Administration (BOCA), the Uniform Building Codes (UBC), and the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI).


Whichever Wellcraft egress system you choose, you will be truly satisfied with the quality and beauty that these windows and wells provide. Your basement will be filled with natural light and our available well colors will blend with your interior decor.

It’s the Law

According to the 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) requirements, egress windows and wells are required under the following circumstances:

  • If you add a bedroom a basement, an egress window must be installed in that bedroom.
  • If you create a habitable space in your basement and you currently do not have an egress window, one must be included with the installation of the habitable room.


You can count on a closed well cover to be sturdy enough to support up to 500 pounds while eliminating the risk of anyone falling in the well. The cover is also light enough for a child to escape easily.


Wellcraft egress window wells are made from polyethylene with UV inhibitors. This durable material gives them superior weathering capabilities and no maintenance once they have been installed. They are warranted against rusting, rotting and decay for a period of ten years.


Fire can spread rapidly through a home, leaving as little as two minutes to escape safely. In the event of a fire or emergency, family members have the ability to escape out of the basement quickly through Wellcraft egress windows and wells.

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