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Egress Windows: Is it right for me?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Are you looking to turn your home’s basement into a leasable apartment, a bedroom for a family member or just looking to add a little light into the room? Then egress windows are the right choice for you!

When renovating your basement into a livable space, egress windows are a necessity as they act as an emergency exit as per building regulations in case of a fire or hazard. Outlined below is information to consider prior to purchasing windows for your basement to ensure you are making the correct choice for your home and the safety of your family and tenants.

What is an egress window?

An egress window is a type of window that can be easily opened from the inside without using any tools or keys and opens without any difficulties.

As outlined in Ontario residential building codes, every bedroom in a basement must be equipped with an egress window as an emergency exit in case of a fire or hazardous event.

Hopper window

Why is the egress window important?

The purpose of egress windows is to ensure everyone can safely exit from your home in case of an emergency.

If disaster strikes, having a second way out may be the difference between life and death. The safety of you, your family, your tenants, or guests who may be sharing this space with you should be a top priority.

What are the provincial fire code regulations for egress window opening?

  • Area for egress windows: No less than 3.8 ft2 (0.35 m2)

  • Minimum dimension for egress windows: No less than 15 inches (380 mm)

  • The window must be 1.07m from the floor

  • If the egress window opens into a window well, there must be an opening of 550 mm in between your window and the window well.

  • If your window has a sash that swings towards the well, then it cannot reduce the clearance in a way that would prevent a safe exit.

  • The window must stay open without any extra support

What are the requirements for egress bedroom windows?

  • Except where the suite has a sprinkler, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door operable from the inside and without the use of any hardware, tools, keys or detailed directions.

  • Egress bedroom windows must be sufficiently sized to provide a quick & easy escape route in the event of an emergency.

  • The sill height of the window cannot be higher than 1 meter (unless in a basement)

  • Local requirements for basement windows may vary. Check with your municipality officials to learn more about area guidelines in your city/region.

What windows can be used as an egress?

The most popular egress windows are hopper windows; which are hinged from the top or tilt and turn windows which are hinged from the side.

Other options are available as well and each window type has its own formula in order to verify if it complies with the requirements and codes for egress window.

Tilt and turn windows

Why do most windows in older houses not meet the egress requirements?

Homes built prior to 1980 do not meet egress window requirements for basement bedrooms as the rules had yet to be enacted.

Additionally, some homes were constructed when the standard requirement for egress windows were 5 sq. ft. Requirements have been updated over the last few decades to better prioritize the safety of the residents.

As a result, a majority of older homes and even many homes built in the last decade or so, do not pass updated egress requirements as codes have been changed. If you are looking to make your basement leasable or have a family member live down there, make sure that there are at least two exits, including at least one egress window.

Hire Tricity professional for your egress window project

Egress windows are a legal must for a basement living space as their primary purpose is a life saving escape route in case of an emergency.

TriCity Windows and Doors has a dedicated team for egress windows cutouts, contact us today to discuss your basement remodeling at (519) 721-2924.


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