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Egress windows are very important and are essential for most homes. However, not any window is up to code.

What is an Egress Window?

We don’t always think of a window being anymore more to let in light or open on a nice day, but it is also a potential lifesaver, especially when it comes to any upstairs room.

An egress window provides an escape route in the event of an emergency. It is vital to have them upstairs because a fire could block the stairway, and you could be trapped without them. Essentially, an egress window is a window of at least a specific size that can be easily opened from the inside without the need of assistance, such as tools, and free from any obstructions.

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Egress Window size requirements


The National Building Code of Canada has very strict egress window code. It specifically states: “Except where the suite is sprinklered, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware. The window shall provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 meters squared (542 sq. inches) in area with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 inches) and maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.”

This means that the opening of the window must be big enough to get through in case of an emergency. It must be able to be opened without the need for anything, and the escape path must not go into another room. In addition to the egress window dimensions, it is recommended that the window sills be no more than 1.5m from the floor.


The basement egress window code follows the same dimensions as an above-ground room. However it may be difficult for a basement egress window to be no more than 1.5m from the floor when it needs to be facing an outdoor escape route. It is recommended to put in some sort of access to the window, such as built-in furniture to climb on.

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How to plan for an Egress Window

There is no specific style when it comes to these, as long as it fits the egress window requirements laid out above. The egress window cost will depend on the style you choose and where it will be installed. An egress window installation consists of cutting a precise hole, framing the opening, and setting the window.

Casement windows are a popular choice for small spaces and basements. They have hinged sashes that can swing free of the opening. Some have an operator arm that needs to be pushed on first to open. In this case, there simply needs to be a label clearly marked with “Push Here” to meet egress requirements.

Installing an egress window not only could potentially save lives but also brightens up an otherwise dark room, like a basement. As long as it suits the requirements, any style window can be an egress window, so you can easily find one that goes with the look of your home.