Framing Basement Windows

Framing basement windows is ______?

Easy.   Easy is the answer

Easy… Once you know what to do.

I, being your basement finishing friend, will show you what to do. Other's may disagree and say "Jason, that's the dumbest way ever".  But I know three thingsIt was easy.  It passed inspection. The drywall guys liked it.

If you like things that are easy and pass inspection then my technique for framing basement windows is for you.

Don't Drywall Over Your Basement Windows

Before we get into framing around your basement windows I want to just double check that you're not thinking of just dry-walling over them.

That would be....  a bad idea.  On several fronts.

You need light my friends. Not just light bulb light. You need natural light, and I'm not talking about the beer.

Badger - my nemesis

This guy.... He no likey being relegated to the basement.

You also need to open these windows from time to time to let in some fresh air.

Granted, most of the time they're closed and locked (for safety purposes) but on occasion you will want to open them.

For example;  let's just imagine, an I'm just spit-balling here, you're crazy cat decides to poop all over the basement floor and you want to clean that up with a harsh cleaning agent.

In that hypothetical case... you want the windows to open.  Just sayin'.

Framing Basement Windows

This photo, of one of my basement walls, lays it out pretty well.

#1 and #2  You want to start by installing the studs of the wall as you normally would.  When you get to one that would go over the area of the window skip it until you get past the window.

Here in the photo studs 1 and 2 need to go up before you stop to frame the window.

framing basement windows studs and headers

When framing my basement windows I used boards that weren't super straight. This made installing the window box and trim much harder than it needed to be.   - Jason

#3 #4  With studs one and two in place you can now install the top and bottom horizontal 2 x 4s for the window frame.  It's crucial at this point to measure exactly where you want the frame to be.  If you're finishing the window with just drywall then be sure to account for the extra width.

When you or your drywall crew go to "finish" the window, you don't want those panels at an angle, they should be 90 degrees from the wall.  Don't worry if it's slightly off, you can use some shims to get it right.

Keep in mind you can't fix it with shims if the framing is to tight around the
window (to close in) so it's better to error on to far away.

#5 #6 With the top and bottom in place you can install the left and right supports.  Remember, the entire reason for framing is to hold up the drywall. This isn't like you supporting a new window. The window itself is already securely framed in by the concrete blocks.

Try to visualize yourself finishing the window, this will help you understand how to frame it.

It's very important to get pieces 3 and 4 as straight and as level as possible.  Don't use a warped board.

Finally, with the window boxed in, you can install studs 5 and 6.  Be sure to stay on your pattern of 16 inches on center, the drywall crew will still be expecting studs every sixteen inches, even under a window.

That's about it.  I'm going to do a separate post on how to finish the window using wood and trim instead of drywall and I'll telling you right now it looks much, much better trimmed out.

basement finishing jason 205

Be sure to subscribe to my email list to get notified about that article and some other cool tips that I'm pulling from my basement finishing notes.

Oh, one more thing. If you decide to hire a contractor for framing your basement be sure to check out my tips on getting the right one.  You can thank me later.

Cheers - Jason

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Questions and Comments

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  1. John Poropat says

    After I framed my basement windows do I put sheetrock on the wood studs around the inside of the window or do I put 1/2 finished wood on the studs inside the window? or is it a matter of my choice? Thanks.

  2. John says

    Great site, Jason - you're a goldmine of helpful information!

    One thing I'm still unsure of is how to handle framing around a basement window that has its' metal frame set into the concrete wall (1972 construction)? The windows have to remain removable, so there doesn't seem to be room to finish the inside of the existing metal window frame with either drywall or wood. If I did that, I would be permanently locking the window into the frame. I don't like the looks of leaving the metal frame exposed though, so I'm really at a loss. How do I handle this transition!

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