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Often a search for DIY Window Well Cover is initiated when someone has been disheartened by the options seemingly available to them. Either the well covers are too expensive or the timeline is too long. Purchasing a custom window well cover can take weeks to measure, fabricate and install. Additionally, these custom covers often carry a hefty price tag as there are labor costs associated with custom work and installation.

Certainly, if you build your own window well cover you would save money and shave time off the custom grate’s 2-3 week timeline, right? Perhaps you will, but before you head to the hardware store for your DIY window well cover materials, consider a few things about your design.

DIY Window Well Cover Plans

Quality plans are hard to come by on the internet, as many DIY window well covers are the results of trial and error by the DIYer. What works for one homeowner’s well shape, security needs, family safety, and skill level may not meet the needs of another.

Municipalities can also play a factor as they may have requirements about the amount of weight a cover needs to support or materials they approve of depending on the location of your well. Something you will want to investigate before you commit to your materials.

Safety

One of the reasons that people seek to cover their window well is the fear that a large open hole in their yard is hazardous – it is. However, the potential for someone or something to fall into the well isn’t always mitigated with a DIY window well cover.

Covers made of plastic will break down over time due to the sun’s powerful ultraviolet light. Even the thickest plastics will eventually become brittle and break down. Should a child, pet, or friend stand on the cover (even if by accident) after it has aged in the sun, there is no guarantee the cover will continue to perform as it once did upon the initial build. The appearance of the cover on the window well then begins to offer a false sense of security.

Covers made with lumber don’t always fair much better. Wood can become just as brittle and weak exposed to the elements without periodic maintenance. The weight of lumber can also become a concern, but we’ll cover that more in a minute.

Covers made of mesh netting, wire, or screen may seem like a good option to keep debris and animals out. However, these materials are not an ideal design to support any type of weight. Should someone ever trip and fall into the well, you may still be liable. If this material is important to you, you’re better off adding these to a grate designed to support weight for maximum safety.

Egress

When it comes to safety, it’s not only above the window well you need to consider. Window wells are an emergency egress from your home. Permanently attaching a cover to egress wells is a code violation in many cases. In an emergency, you don’t have the time or sometimes even the ability to be locating tools and a flashlight to be able to escape your home safely.

Decide how your DIY window well cover should open for egress. Having a plan for how the cover will function from the underside is just as important as its function from above. International Residential Code (IRC) specifies that devices used to cover emergency escape and rescue openings are required to be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key or tool (Section R310). You also want to avoid anything that would require special knowledge like a code or combination (Section R311).

Emergencies rarely happen in perfect circumstances; can you open the cover without lights/power in the middle of the night? Will you need a window well escape ladder? Deep window wells can be tricky to climb out of without one. Keep in mind, anything that prevents or hinders you or your family from exiting the well is hazardous.

Weight

Weight is a double-edged sword when it comes to your DIY window well cover. You will need a design that is light enough to push off during an emergency, yet something with enough weight that won’t whip right off in the wind. Some designs, based on how they fit the well, are susceptible to taking off in the wind. Exposed surface areas can make it possible for the wind to move the cover rendering it useless. Window well covers made of lumber typically have enough weight to stay put in a storm. However, the weight of the lumber materials can become too heavy to easily remove from underneath in an emergency.

You may want to secure the DIY window well cover the well permanently to keep the wind damage minimal. This is ill-advised. Remember, you need quick and easy egress from these window wells.

Light

Part of the joy of having window wells in your basement is the natural light they allow into your basement. This makes your basement feel like a natural extension of your home, rather than a cold, and dark dungeon-esk room. Many times, DIY Window Well Cover plans will encourage you to keep natural light a priority, rightfully so.

Plans that opt for the use of translucent plastic, wire, or lattice-like materials are in an attempt to protect your natural light. However, these designs can be doing so at the expense of safety as previously mentioned. Even clear solid covers can potentially rob you of light, see the article here to learn more. DIY window well covers made of lumber can block significant amounts of light, which can impact the livability and enjoyment of your basement.

Time & Investment

A DIY window well cover is an investment just like any cover. You’re investing in materials as well as your time to design, fabricate, and install the cover. Consider the total investment you are making in the cover and the continued investment you will need to make with upkeep and periodic replacements of this cover. Are you sacrificing natural light or your family’s safety? Do you have the tools available to execute your design?

Our DIY Solution

Adjust-A-Grates were designed specifically to be a do-it-yourself option compared to expensive custom window well covers. We started in ornamental iron, and faced the same design questions of how to build a better window well cover. We are proud to offer a solution that doesn’t require the long timeline or high price tag of custom covers.

Our patented design allows the homeowner to easily install the correct model for your well on your own. You don’t need special tools, drilling, or engineering experience.  Following our step-by-step instructions, the grates deliver a custom fit solution. Additionally, you can purchase these grates and install in less than a week (depending on where you are located). Colorado customers can purchase and install the same day in many cases.

Manufactured of high quality tempered aluminum, Adjust-A-Grates are lightweight enough to push off in an emergency, yet can support up to 400 lbs of static weight. The grate allows full ventilation to your basement and 90% of natural light. We also offer an optional Security Kit with quick release if you’re interested in added security.

Best of all, Adjust-A-Grates are designed to last a lifetime, they will never rust or require painting. Your one-time investment in the grate and time to install is all it takes. No ongoing maintenance or periodic replacements required.

To learn which model of grate is right for your wells, visit the product information page here.

Today, we’re talking about home security and the often-overlooked entrance to your home… your window well. Window well security is often overlooked until it’s too late, not something we’d wish on anyone. Below are a few tips from experts on how to burglar proof your home. However, first let me share a quick story about my family’s experience with this.

The Doorbell Rang

Years ago, my daughter had something pretty scary happen. She was in her master bedroom in the basement of their newly moved-in-home. With one child napping and another on the way, she opted to not make the trek up the stairs to see who had just rung the doorbell.

She wasn’t expecting anyone, and it was probably a solicitor she thought. Continuing to go about her business in her room, she all of a sudden heard a thud outside the window. She turned around to see a man had jumped down into her window well. Screaming and immediately searching for a phone to call the police, she was in a panic. Meanwhile, the man quickly climbed out of the well and ran to catch a truck that then quickly sped down the street. Had she not been home or in that particular room the end results could have been even more disastrous.

If not addressed, window well security can be a serious issue. The police never told her if they found the man who dropped into her window well but did mention that there had been a series of break-ins in the area. Window well security can be a serious issue for you and your family if preventative measures aren’t taken. Needless to say, my daughter moved picking up her grates from our shop at the top of her priority list.

Window Well Security

With building code changes since the 1970s, larger window wells are the norm. These large window wells offer significant cover to anyone trying to hide in them. We can’t stress enough the importance of addressing window well security on your home.  Many times, homeowners will push window well security behind more aesthetically pleasing improvements to the home, it’s natural to want to see where your money goes. Window well security is an investment in protecting your home and valuables from burglaries. Grates designed to last a lifetime, like Adjust-A-Grates are a one time purchase, there are no recurring fees.

Thankfully in recent years, burglaries have been declining, according to the FBI. Yet there were still over a million and a half burglaries in 2016 across the US. That’s 1 burglary every 21 seconds.

What’s more alarming is that most break-ins occur during the day in broad daylight, between 6 am and 6 pm. With the peak of burglaries in the months of June, July, and August according to the same FBI crime stats. The times that correlate with most people being away from their homes at work. These are also the months that are synonymous with family vacations.

Opportunity Awaits

While not all break-ins are through the basement, burglars are often described as opportunistic. They look for a home that displays easy-target characteristics like accessible windows and doors with coverage to hide. In an article by Claire Martin published in the Denver Post in May 2015 two Denver Police Detectives, Fred Ybarra and William P. Monahan Jr. give some advice on burglar-proofing your home.

“The more difficult you make it for a burglar to get in, the likelier they are to look for an easier house,” Ybarra told Claire.

Here are some of the items the two detectives call to Claire’s attention in the article:

  • Answer Your Door – let people know you’re home, you don’t have to open your door to tell them to go away.
  • Large landscaping features – like bushes and shrubs offer quality hiding places while burglars investigate windows and doors further.
  • Keep Keys Out of View – don’t offer the opportunity of a return visit.
  • Rear Entrances – entry to your home is more likely to occur at the back of the home, where burglars can hide behind fencing, sheds, and landscape.
  • Post “Beware of Dog” Signs – dogs have a built-in alarm system, particularly large protective breeds.
  • Use sturdy doors – with deadbolts, both at the front and back of your home.
  • Keep your doors locked – and windows too, even when home.
  • Use your blinds –  tilt them in a manner that doesn’t allow someone to look into your home from the outside.
  • Garage – keep your garage door closed, again burglars are opportunistic.
  • Make friends with your neighbors – they are often better than an alarm system.
  • Use grates on basement window wells – Detective Monahan said, “Grates discourage basement break-ins. One thing to remember with houses that have bigger window wells: You need to put a surface grate on top. It’s easy for a burglar to hide in a deep window well, and be completely out of sight while he’s working on that window.”
  • Motion sensing lights –use around the exterior of your home for anyone snooping around in the cover of darkness.

Our Solution

It has been our experience that the sight of an Adjust-A-Grate resting on your well is enough to deter most burglars. The Adjust-A-Grate, to someone unfamiliar with the grate, appears to be bolted to the well. A passerby would not usually take the time to investigate. For added window well security we offer an optional Security Kit with Quick Release that secures your grate to the well. This Security Kit discourages burglars from using this as an entry point to your home and will typically prompt them to find easier pickings. The quick release feature allows someone inside the home the ability to easily release and exit in an emergency.

Note: The optional Security Kit with Quick Release is designed specifically for use with an Adjust-A-Grate. However, we have had several customers modify this product to accommodate their existing grates. This article details the best ways we have found to do this

Thankfully the incident with my daughter never escalated into anything more than a giant scare, but that’s not to say everyone is so lucky. We take your window well security seriously and if you have any questions about how we can help you secure your window well please visit our product page here or contact us.

 

 

 

Solid window well covers can be a less expensive up-front cost compared to custom metal grates to cover your window well. But make no mistake solid covers have a downside too. If you’re considering a solid window well cover keep these six things in mind.

Safety

Plastic window well covers can offer you and your family a false sense of security. A fresh plastic cover off the store shelf has yet to be exposed to the elements. Therefore, this cover is at it’s strongest point in its lifecycle.

Small children are tempted, and sometimes even prompted, to stand on the cover. For a new cover designed to support any amount of weight, this will appear to be no problem at all. However, the sun’s powerful ultra-violet rays break down plastic causing the cover to become brittle over time. Even thick plastic covers will eventually succumb to the sun’s rays.

Children who once knew the window well covers as a place safe for standing are not likely to notice signs the cover is becoming weak. This is especially true of young children who forget they are growing heavier all while the cover has become easier to break under them.

The Terrarium Effect

Adjust-A-Grate originally started under a different name as an ornamental iron company almost 30 years ago. Removing plastic bubbles in order to install security window guards meant I would have to stand in the well with some scary looking spiders, webs, and other creepy crawlers.

Not exactly the view you want from inside your basement window, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

Solid window well covers offer the opportunity to trap moisture and heat inside your well. This can make a cozy home for these critters and possibly even mold. We recommend an option that gives you airflow to mitigate the opportunity for unwanted pests to set up residence.

They Need Replacing Periodically

The sun is powerful, the ultra-violet light it emits wreaks havoc on plastic causing it to break down over time. Thus causing the plastic to become brittle and discolored.

The discolored plastic will let in less and less natural light to your basement over time. Plus, a good hail storm or an overthrown ball from the neighbor’s yard make quick work of breaking down a brittle cover.

They Can Prevent Light

Discoloration aside, some solid window well covers lay flat enough on the opening of your window well to also cause an issue. The flat service offers a nice resting place for debris such as lawn clippings or leaves.

In addition, a light rainstorm can wet the cover enough for dirt, dust, and pollen to form a film on the previously clear cover blocking your light.

You Need to Keep Solid Window Well Covers Clear

If you are tempted to bolt or permanently attach the cover to the well to prevent the cover from blowing away – don’t. You also want to avoid placing a large rock, bar, or any other heavy object from the garage on top of your plastic cover. Not only will your local fire inspector cringe, you risk a citation.  The well is for emergency exit from your basement, anything impeding your safe exit is typically a code violation and worse, a safety hazard.

Snow can also be a hazard on a solid cover well. A wet snowfall built up on a solid cover becomes extremely heavy for anyone underneath the cover to lift and exit the well safely. If you do decide to purchase a solid cover, remember to clear them of snow and debris often.

Extra Costs

For smaller wells, plastic “bubble” window well covers come with a lesser price tag. Yet can deteriorate after just one season of intense weather, meaning you need to replace the cover frequently. These types of window well covers also generally do not reduce your liability. The plastic is thin enough to be cost-effective and prevent some water and debris from entering the well. Yet the plastic, being so thin, is not conducive to supporting the weight of an animal or child. These types of covers are not great for high traffic areas despite their initial low price tag.

Most solid custom made polycarbonate covers for larger wells offer more strength than bubble covers, however, the material is very expensive which can drive up the costs.  These window well covers, to fit correctly need to be custom measured, manufactured, and installed. All that labor adds to your costs and lengthens your timeline.

A Better Solution

We wanted a better solution for you, Adjust-A-Grate window well covers were designed to allow the homeowner to enjoy all the benefits of their window well while reducing the safety hazards large open window wells present.

With Adjust-A-Grates the homeowner receives a window well cover with a custom fit that allows fresh air, and natural light. All complete with the strength to protect homeowners and their families and friends. Made of lightweight tempered aluminum, these grates will never rust or require painting. Plus we back our product with a 10 Year Warranty.

Adjust-A-Grates sit inside the opening of the window well and basically remain flush with the top of the well, offering you an unobtrusive custom grate solution at an affordable price. Most grates are in stock and ready to ship same day. We also offer an optional Security Kit with Quick Release for added security.

If you’d like to see if our grates are right for you, please visit the product information page here.

Recently there has been a trend popping up all over Pinterest to “beautify” egress window wells. While we do understand that the brushed metal, wood, or concrete material of a window well isn’t everyone’s favorite view from their basement window, these egress window wells do serve an important function in your home. If you’re looking to beautify your egress window well, we’ve found a few ways we’d recommend and a few we wouldn’t.

DO: Allow natural light and airflow into your egress window wells.

Not only do larger basement egress window wells represent an important safety feature of your home but they help basements to feel like a normal extension of your home’s living area. You can open the window for fresh air and reap the benefits of the natural light.

We’ve seen numerous Pinterest projects that require a solid cover to be placed over the window well to prevent figurines, plants, and even fairy gardens to be left untouched by the elements.

While solid window well covers can prevent most debris and water from entering the well they also prevent fresh air and can block out light to your basement. Read more about what to consider when looking at solid covers here.

DON’T: Fill the entire well with plants and shrubs.

Remember these wells are for your safety. Egress window wells were quite literally designed for egress – meaning to exit or leave. Should you ever have an emergency in your basement, such as a fire, those window wells need to be available for you and your family to climb into from your home and then out of to safety.

Popular Pinterest egress window well beautification pins included planting cacti or ivy. While cacti is an intriguing attempt to keep intruders out, it’s less conducive to keeping your family safe during an emergency exit. Ivy is beautiful in many respects and it may seem illustrious climbing up the wall of your window well. However, eventually, that beautiful plant will begin to steal your natural light and plays host to all sorts of critters and bugs, which may cause you to think twice about opening the window for fresh air.

In any case, lots of plants in your window well can prevent your emergency egress from being an easy task. Safety of yourself and your family is the top priority so leave the majority of your garden in the yard.

DO: Use Decorative Rock

Most emergencies requiring you or a family member to use the well as a means of egress involve someone sleeping, whether that be a nap or for the night. Therefore we’re a big fan of rounded and smooth rocks like River Rock because they won’t tear up your bare feet in a quick exit. I mean, how often are you wearing proper footwear inside your home?

Most landscape suppliers or soil and sand companies carry a wide variety of stones from small pebbles to larger stones in a variety of colors. It’s the perfect way to naturally accentuate your in-home décor while also beautifying your egress window well.

DON’T: Hang planters or other items from the window well escape ladder

Don’t get us wrong, we love the look of hanging plants or holiday decor, but they have a place. An Emergency Window Well Escape Ladder is specifically there to help you exit your home in an emergency. Adding an extra step to remove something hanging from the ladder will add time when seconds matter.

While one may think that the time it takes to unhook one planter isn’t significant, in an emergency every second counts. Even just a quick slip through your fingers while your adrenaline is pumping presents the potential for injury to you or a family member in the form of broken plastic, glass, or ceramic. Slipping on moss or other material hanging on your ladder could be just as disastrous. Remember, you could be exiting your window in the dark. Don’t make an emergency even worse with a preventable injury.

DO: Use weather-resistant Window Well Scenes.

A picture is worth 1,000 words. If you don’t wish to look out your window at the brushed metal or concrete, and no one would blame you, then these weather-resistant Window Well Scenes may very well fit the bill for you.

We’re fans of the Garden, Masonry, and Lake scenes ourselves but there are plenty to choose from.

DON’T: Cover or paint a rusting or rotting well.

If the integrity of your well has been compromised with wood rot or rust, it’s important to get this fixed. Egress window wells are important safety element of your home and many municipal building codes have strict guidelines as to how the well should function. A well that’s caving in on itself is unsafe for numerous reasons. You may need to have it repaired or replaced altogether, but it’s important that you don’t let it get worse.

DO: Use railings and fence.

While a railing around the well or a fence might not prevent a burglar from using your well as an entry point to your home, it does help to keep people and larger animals from accidentally falling in while also keeping a good amount of light, depending on the railing or fencing material.

We like this option most when you have an extremely large or a shallow depth well in a high traffic area where a grate doesn’t always make sense.

Remember, if you use this on a larger well, that you may still need to climb out of this well during an emergency. Make sure there is a ladder or a gate that allows for you to climb all the way out of the egress window wells should you ever need to.

Are you considering a different egress beautification project for your egress window wells?

Keep this rule of thumb in mind: if the project will prevent or increase the difficulty of exiting my home in an emergency, then it’s a no go.