Letting light into your basement is essential for making it a more useful, livable space. Since basements are mostly underground except for the top few feet, you need window wells in order to accomplish this. It is also important for the safety of those in the basement as they may need to exit quickly.
However, the same window wells that let light in can create a safety hazard for those utilizing the yard around the house, not to mention pets and other small animals. Because of this, you need window well covers. The same covers that keep those using the yard safe can also provide a certain level of security, preventing thieves and others from entering your home at ground level if the window well cover is installed with window well lock system.
There are all types of window well covers out there. Made from a variety of materials. Those include plastic, plexiglass, metal and other DIY materials. How do you decide which ones are best for you and your home? The wrong window well covers often create some common issues. The right covers can make all the difference not only to safety, security and piece of mind, but to the appearance of your home.
Let’s take a look at these window well covers, and the pros and cons of each type.
Plastic or Plexiglass Window Well Covers
These window well covers are just what they sound like. They are usually made of plastic or Plexiglas that is clear. Typically, plastic covers are the least expensive type of cover, but as we will see in a moment, cost should not be the first consideration when purchasing them.
Depending where your home is located and the function you want the window well covers to serve, the cheapest solutions are not always the most functional or the most attractive.
Metal Window Well Covers
Metal window well covers can be made of a variety of materials from aluminum to steel, depending on how strong you need them to be. Steel tends to be the strongest and most secure of the materials available.
Metal window well covers are generally set in a pattern like a grate. This means light still gets in, but they keep pets and children from falling in, and thieves from gaining entry with a lock system.
What are some factors to look at when looking at which window well cover is right for you?
How Strong is Your Window Well Cover?
While plastic window well covers are inexpensive, they are primarily designed to keep out dirt, debris, and other lightweight items. They can crack and break under too much weight or even with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Plexiglass window well covers are tougher than plastic and can be built with supports that can increase strength, but there are limits to the support those frames provide. Depending on how much sun your window well gets, plexiglass will discolor over time. Sunlight can also make weaken the material, making them both less functional and less secure.
Metal window well covers are generally a much better choice. They are stronger and can hold more weight, even that of an adult. They’ll also withstand unusual situations like a child jumping on them or running over them. This is especially important if you have children or grandchildren at home. Even pets might break through a cheaper window well cover, with the potential for greater injury.
It is important for you to know and understand the differences between the strength of window well covers when determining which ones are right for you.
How Long Will Your Window Well Cover Last?
The old adage that you get what you pay for is just as true when it comes to window well covers. While metal covers may be more expensive initially, they will last much longer than other materials. The covers sold by Safewell come with a lifetime structural warranty and are coated with a 3-stage powder coat finish so they won’t rust and the finish will last for years to come.
Both plastic and Plexiglass can be affected by the elements, from rain to wind and sun, weakening them and shortening their life expectancy. This means you will have to replace them more often, increasing the overall cost of ownership in the long run.
How Much Weight Can Your Window Well Cover Hold?
For many homeowners, this is one of their primary concerns when looking for window well covers. There are several factors that go into how much weight a given cover can hold.
Plastic and Plexiglass window well covers are generally not overly strong by themselves, although Plexiglass does have a slight edge in this area in comparison to plastic. Also note, there are also two types of plastic and plexiglass covers; supported and unsupported.
An unsupported cover is made up of just the plastic or plexiglass with no additional structure other than the frame used to mount them. A supported cover will have structure in the middle attached to the frame, usually made of metal. This helps with the amount of weight they can support, but weak spots are still inevitable.
Metal covers, on the other hand, can support a lot more weight. Most steel, grate type covers can support around 500 pounds, which means even if your kids and grandkids jump on them (not recommended) they will be safe. A metal window well cover also will keep your pets safe as well as adults too.
What About Safety and Security?
Finally, there are two kinds of security and safety issues when it comes to window well covers. They are getting out in case of emergency, while at the same time preventing entry by unwanted intruders.
Plastic and Plexiglass both have a disadvantage here too. The same things that make metal window well covers stronger also make it harder for intruders to get in. But what about getting out in case of emergency?
In this case, there are several options for metal window well covers, including installing a child escape hatch, a small opening that a child can exit through, but that is too small for an adult to enter through. There are also window well ladders you can add. In addition, there are internal window well locking systems available that can easily be opened from the inside but are difficult for a burglar to reach and open from the outside.
These same features are much harder to achieve with Plexiglass window well covers or plastic ones. The nature of the cover makes it difficult for it to support the additional hardware needed to make locking mechanisms and child exits possible.
In most cases, homeowners will find that metal window well covers offer many advantages over other materials. The good news is that, while more expensive than plastic window well covers or those made of Plexiglass, metal covers are still be affordable. Have questions or want to get a quote for window well covers for your home? Feel free to contact us here at Safewell. We look forward to working with you on making your window well covers the best and safest they can be.