I need to replace four very old basement windows and was considering either regular windows or glass block. The windows haven't been opened in 30 or 40 years so glass block might be more secure.
I had an estimate from one window company; he said they don't do glass block windows anymore as they've changed a few years back and aren't as secure as real windows against break ins.
Is anyone aware of major recent changes in glass block design or is this just a sales pitch?
Maybe they are talking about the plastic "glass block" look alike that
is just glued together with silicone.
Real glass block is pretty tough if you put the reinforcing steel in
I have done quite a bit of it around here and the trick for amateurs
is not to try too much at one time. On a big window I only did 2
courses, let that set up, clean the block (not as easy as it sounds)
then when it is set, do 2 more.
A regular basement window could be done in one shot once you got a
feel for it but glass is not like brick and block. I tried those
plastic spacers but they were not that much help.
On 4/24/2014 11:18 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
A number of years ago,I had the basement windows in my first row house
replaced with glass block. The company came and measured, then brought
the pre-assembled windows and installed them. FWIW, I liked them a lot.
I got their privacy pattern (vs clear) and the way the light diffused
through it really brightened up a dark basement. I also got the vents in
them. When I later moved to a different row house, I was happy to see
they already had glass block windows, but there were not vents so I had
I just checked and there are several glass block companies in my area
advertising residential windows and talking about how secure they are,
so who knows why the OP's first company said that.
Even if there were "major" changes in glass block design, there are a few
other things to consider:
1 - Compared to what you have now, how much of a security improvement would
current glass block be, even if they aren't as secure as a "real window"?
2 - What are the odds that your house is going to be broken into? High
value neighborhood? High crime area? In other words, do you need to pay for
the extra security that a "real window" would supposedly provide? That's
assuming that real windows are more expensive...you didn't,t say.
3 - Look around the rest of your house. Is there easier access than through
the basement windows? You could put armor plating over the basement windows
but if they can get in through the garage or a sun parch, what's the point?
All I'm saying is that if you are truly concerned with security, you can't
just look at the basement window replacement as an isolated matter. There
are other items that come into play.
On Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:39:06 AM UTC-4, DerbyDad03 wrote:
The current windows are about 40-50 years old; the frames are worn and coul
d probably be kicked out easily. Plus they're drafty; I've had plastic shee
ting stapled over them for several years to keep out the wind and snow.
Probably not much. We're a 15-acre sheep ranch with a development of a doze
n or so McMansions on the south side. I'm sure there's more worth stealing
over there than at our place. Anyone looking at our raggedy old barns and p
ick up truck would probably figure that it's inhabited by a cranky old man
with a shotgun and a large, mean dog.
I've been firming up things a little each year. At this point in time, the
basement windows are probably the weakest point although the replacement is
as much to keep out the wind and improve the looks as preventing break-ins
there are times ventilation can be useful, like painting basement walls with drylock..... the glass block vent windows arent big enough to do much of anything
burglars are lazy, its far easier and quicker to kick in a door, rather than mess with a basement window that might not open leaving shards of glass to get cut on.
glass block is espically attractive to older folks, it gives the illusion of safety
On Thursday, April 24, 2014 8:40:21 AM UTC-4, Pavel314 wrote:
just a sales pitch?
In theory glass is more slippery than a concrete block so mortar does not h
old it as securely.
In practice the burglar is probably just going to kick in your back door an
I think code probably requires egress from a basement. You're probably gra
ndfathered, but you might want to consider whether it would ever be safer t
o have an operating window. One of my relatives recently filled the baseme
nt with smoke while cooking.!!! We could not clear it until we found basem
ent windows that would open.
On Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:20:34 PM UTC-4, TimR wrote:
s just a sales pitch?
hold it as securely.
randfathered, but you might want to consider whether it would ever be safer
to have an operating window. One of my relatives recently filled the base
ment with smoke while cooking.!!! We could not clear it until we found bas
ement windows that would open.
Our house is built into a slight hill, so the basement door opens out into
the yard, no steps to climb. The windows are less than 3' wide and 2' high;
my wife may be able to squeeze through if she dragged the ladder over ther
e but I'd need to go on a severe diet to do so. Opening the door airs it ou
t quite well. No cooking down there, mainly storage and the tool room, but
we do get odors in the wine cellar when I'm stomping grapes. They're pleasa
nt odors, so I keep the door closed at those times.
No window is secure unless it's got bars across it.
Glass block is just as "secure" as regular windows. Either one will
make noise when broken. With blocks a burglar can't see in, but
window shades of curtains do that with regular windows.
I went with sliders for my basement, except for the window over the
clothes dryer, which is glass blocks with one block being a vent
I like being able to open the windows to air it out occasionally.
Basement flooded twice last year (record rains) and that came in
Hey, if your windows haven't been opened in 30 or 40 years, how could
they be more secure than that?
But seriously, the first summer I owned my townhouse, someone kicked the
front door in. Didn't take anything, however. (Maybe the next
door dog whose barking every night at 11:15 and every morning at 6:45;
kept me from getting 8 hours sleep, scared him away.) The next day, I
reinforced the door frame as much as I could and installed the burglar
Prior to my buying the house, when they were new or almost new, there
had been a string of burglaries by someone who went in through the
basement window. Somone thin. The owner put bars on the windows.
Pre-fab bars, in two sections, which pull open or push shut, depending
on how wide the opening is. Screwed to the 2x4's in the window frame
(or maybe the ones that hold the "wood" paneling in place) using hex
head lag screws. Actually they were too close to the window and it
only opened a little. I moved them in another 1/2 or 1 inch so the
moving half of the window would open all the way.
Come to think of it, the glass in half the window is plastic. Maybe
the guy broke into my house before I owned it, but he's certainly not
getting in now.
The ICC codes sat you only need egress from a basement with a sleeping
room in it.
I have not seen many basement windows that would comply anyway. You
need 5.7 square feet of clear opening with the window open and the
window well needs to at least 9 square feet with a minimum 3 feet in
both directions. The ones I remember in Maryland were a half of a 36"
corrugated drain pipe.up against the window opening with some gravel
in the bottom,
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.