What Are Hopper Windows?

Basement Hopper Windows are the most common type of window in basements. They are hinged at the bottom and open by tilting the “sash” inwards. The sash is usually held into the frame by a chain. When the lock is opened, gravity takes over and the sash naturally falls inwards. The chain ensures it doesn’t go too far. In most hopper windows, the length of the chain can be adjusted to determine how much the window will open. Here is a picture of a vinyl hopper window:

Custom Basement Windows


History of the Hopper Window

Hopper windows became popular during the 19th century. At the time, this window served several purposes. Automobiles and paved roads were still only a novelty, and horses on dirt roads were the primary means of transportation throughout the country. The unpaved roads created large amounts of dust and when home owners opened their windows, a flurry of dust overtook the home.


The invention of the hopper window allowed for light and ventilation to permeate the home while restricting the amount of dust that could enter. Hopper windows were used on transoms, where the window was hinged at the bottom and tilted into the room. The dust from the roads was minimal at transom height–typically 7’0” above finished floor–compared to traditional window height. Another common use for the hopper window was to cool food. Homes built during this period had deep window sills where pies and hot items were set to cool. Opening the hopper window allowed fresh air to enter the home and assist in cooling the food.


Initially hopper windows were made of wood, as almost all windows were. Many homes across the U.S. still have old hopper windows. In some cases, these hopper windows were hinged at the top instead of the bottom like modern hopper windows. In order to hold the window open, the wood sash would be lifted all the way to the ceiling and held in place with a hook.


Are Hopper Windows Ever Used Outside a Basement?

While hoppers are used in basements more than any other room, they can also be “mulled”(attached) to other types of windows to create However, there are plenty of interesting architectural designs that include hopper window installation, like adding them beneath classic double-hung windows or above doors for a truly unique aesthetic.


Pros & Cons of Hopper Windows


  • Hopper windows are an excellent way to ventilate the basement level.
  • They are also a cost-effective option for letting light into difficult to reach rooms.
  • Hopper windows are very secure.
  • They are difficult to break into from the outside due to their opening mechanism.


  • Hopper windows need to be cleaned more often than windows that open vertically.
  • Careful thought may need to be applied to the landscaping around your house due to the unusual placement of hopper windows.

What Types of Glass are available in Hopper Windows

Most windows are double pane (with two layers of glass), but can be upgraded to triple pane for increased energy efficiency. This upgrade initially makes for a more expensive window, but over time lowers energy bills. Regardless of how many panes you choose, hopper windows can also come with tempered glass and insulated glass upgrades as well. Tempered glass is stronger and can handle impact better than non-tempered glass. Insulated glass contributes to energy efficiency and can retain heat better than non-insulated glass. Energy efficient windows can be key for retaining heat in basement level areas of the home.


What Options are Available with Hopper Windows?

The two most common options are grids and privacy glass.


What Material are Hopper Windows Made From?

Hopper windows are most commonly manufactured from Vinyl. Vinyl windows are on the less expensive side of the price spectrum, whereas wood and composite frames will be more expensive. The material that will work best for you depends on your functional needs and budget. Wood windows are often chosen for aesthetic appeal. Vinyl and composite are generally subtle, white framed choices, and although composite fiberglass tends to be more expensive than vinyl, it is also more durable. Vinyl is the most common option for hopper window frames.


How Much Does a Hopper Window Cost?

The price of basement windows can vary by brand, frame material, size and additional features, but a general price range is between $400 and $500.

The cost of replacing basement ultimately windows depends on the size of the job. For instance, if you’re simply swapping out old windows for new ones, then the cost will be lower than if you are having a window well and egress window put in. The average cost for the former is $1,000 or lower in most cases, barring any unforeseen problems like structural issues and frame alterations. Of course, the more expensive the windows, the higher your total cost will be.

In comparison, having a professional install a window well and egress window where there wasn’t one previously can cost as much as $8,000. This job can be accomplished via DIY methods, but you’ll still have expenses such as equipment rental costs, materials, and the proper disposal of the material that was removed. Of course, the risk of mistakes is higher when you do it yourself.


Are Hopper Windows Egress Compliant?

The answer is it depends. In order to be egress compliant, a window must meet certain size requirements which are designed so that a person has the ability to climb out. Most hopper windows will not meet egress code because they aren’t big enough.


Hopper Windows Pros & Cons

Adding hopper windows to your home can provide you with great benefits. Not only are you allowing light to access darker spaces of your home, but the airtight seal against the window’s weather stripping makes it extremely energy-efficient. The top latch lock also makes hopper windows more secure than other window alternatives. They also have the ability to open inward or outward, unlike awning windows.

However, hopper windows come with a unique set of challenges every homeowner should consider before installing. Hopper windows opening outward can trap rainwater, debris, and insects falling down the side of the house because of their V-shaped opening. Inward opening hopper windows can also interfere with drapes and curtains in the home. Additionally, the top latch can be very difficult to get to and may require the use of a chair or step ladder to access.

There are five signs that it’s time to replace your basement windows. They are:

  1. The windows are too difficult to open or close
  2. A draft can be felt through a closed window
  3. Condensation has formed between the glass panes
  4. The wood around the window is rotted
  5. Your energy bills are higher than you know they should be

What’s the difference between Hopper Windows & Awning Window?

Hopper Windows look very similar to awning windows but their differences are stark.

What’s an Awning Window?

You have likely seen an awning window plenty of times before as this style of the window made its debut before air conditioning came to the rescue in our modern age.

An awning window was originally designed to introduce more airflow into a home because, without air conditioning units, a home’s interior quickly became stuffy and far too hot for the liking of its occupants.

The design of an awning window allows the window to open outward to allow a welcome breeze to flood into the home.  Usually, awning windows will be hinge mounted on the top, and also have some type of crank or mechanism used to allow the window to hold open securely, otherwise, the window would slam shut.

The original design of awning windows was much more simplistic than the modernized versions you see today.  Hundreds of years ago, the composition of an awning window was simply held in its opened position with a stick.

Their functionality and aesthetics are derived from a fabric awning, which has a long history of use dating back to the ancient world.  The ancient Egyptians were the first to utilize these fabric awnings, shading their market stalls and homes from the hot sun and adverse weather.

As you can see from their similarity in looks, the awning window takes its operation and style directly from the ancient origins of a fabric awning.  Some ideas begin with greatness and in cases like the awning window, it’s our new technology that improves upon them.


What Are the Advantages of an Awning Window?

The reason why awning windows have held their popularity for so long is because of their versatile function and ventilation advantages.  What could be better than having a window that’s small enough to prevent unwelcomed critters and security threats sneaking through but still allow a cool breeze to pass through the house?

And for that exact rationale, awning windows have prevailed through time.

As we’ve already discussed, awning windows can thank the ancient Egyptians for their original design, yet another invention from the ancient times that has lasted through a centuries’ worth of changes.

Just like the wheel, there’s only so much improvement that can be compounded upon a perfect, simplistically ideal design.

The shape of an awning window allows homeowners to open it outward even during a light drizzle, without moisture seeping into the home and wreaking havoc on structural integrity, just like the days of the Egyptians setting up awnings above market stalls to shade away from the sun or drops of rain on a dreary day.


The Advantages of a Hopper Window

Because they were originally invented to prevent debris and dirt from finding they’re way into homes, hopper windows are excellent at acting as a barrier against unwanted contaminants while still letting air vent through the home.

This is thanks to its bottom hinge, allowing the window to be secured, tilting inward for just enough of an opening but not large enough for debris to pass through.

Similar to awning windows, hopper windows are excellent space-savers.  Many homeowners choose to install them in bathrooms and basements, areas that can’t fit full windows but still require ventilation and light.

Hopper windows function best when installed higher up on the wall, which is why you’ll see this style of window in basements.

Hopper windows are installed in areas where privacy and security are most valued.  Bathrooms, again, are great homes to hopper windows because the style is small enough to allow privacy and a feeling of enclosure, but let in natural light through a small opening to ensure a nice draft and deliver a sense of security.


Hopper vs Awning Windows: The Run Down

Both styles of windows excel in areas that are tightly spaced but still require natural light and the ability to allow an occasional breeze.  Awning and hopper windows are a nice compromise for these small areas in a home that want more light but cannot afford to sacrifice the wall space for a regular sized window.

The best part about both hopper and awning windows is that these styles are extremely energy efficient.  You only have one pane to worry about and when they are not in use, they have a lock that allows for an airtight seal.

Because of their security features, many modern hopper and awning windows are manufactured with thicker glass, making them more difficult to break, and subsequently providing efficient and energy conscious window glass.

There aren’t too many disadvantages to awning and hopper windows because of their inoffensive size and palatable features of slight openings.  If anything, these types of windows tend to collect more dirt and debris than regular paned windows because of their bottom or top hinge.

The angle of their opening is a bit like a trap for dirt, but alternatively, they keep everything out of the interior of your home.  There may also be a consideration for the space hopper and awning windows will occupy when opened, but for most homeowners, this typically is not enough to be of real concern.

Both windows are a smart choice for any small room or basement in your home.  With their energy efficiency and ability to ventilate, you can’t go wrong with a hopper or awning window style.

How to Install Replacement Basement Windows


At CustomBasementWindows.com, we know that the right windows can enhance your basement. Most existing basement windows were designed for utility rooms and storage areas, not living space. They were generally low-cost, stock, and cast-in-place units. Such old windows types often unnoticed until they have declined beyond repair. Fortunately, replacing them is cheap and straightforward and odern vinyl windows are airtight, more comfortable to operate, and require less maintenance than most existing basement windows. Although every home is different, our guide walks you through how to replace most old corroded, poured-in-place, basement windows with new and efficient units.

Houses built in the 1950s and later, usually have a metal basement windows of about 12 inches to 24 inches in height and between 30 inches to 36 inches in length. These units were made to be set into temporary wooden frames used to create foundation walls. Furthermore, the poured concrete would fill in around the window frames to lock the units in place.

Gray primer was the only coating usually applied to these frames or sashes. Due to this, they developed rust quickly once they were exposed to concrete on the sides. Since it is possible to replace windows with metal frames, CustomBasementWindows.com recommends removing them instead of hiding them under new units. It is also possible to buy windows sized to fit the concrete opening. The most common replacement method is to install wood bucks into the rough opening and attach the new window to the wood. If custom-made basement windows are not needed, this is the best approach because its less expensive and basic stock windows can be used.

The bucks offer adjustable out-of-square and out-of-parallel openings, which makes it helpful when it comes to installing new basement windows. Because there are different types of metal basement windows, all of the steps described in our guide may not be needed. Nevertheless, these windows share similar qualities, and the steps for replacement are comparable. Simply take out the window, get the opening ready, measure and fit the new window, then affix and seal the window in place.

If your home is older you may have wooden windows. In most cases these windows were hinged at the top and sometimes held up by a hook. Although the process is slightly different than a metal frame removal, if anything it is easier and the steps are very similar.

Step 1: Remove Existing Sash & Cut Frame

First remove the existing window sash so only the frame remains in place.

, split the window down the midsection. After removing window sash, use an angle grinder with an abrasive cut-off wheel to create two front-to-back cuts across the metal frame. The cut on the frame includes one through the bottom and one through the top.

Then use a pry bar to twist the old frame. The bottom and top of the frame are bent towards the center, which allows the sides to be pulled inwards. After prying the frame top in a downward direction, you can use a reciprocating saw to divide the outmost portion of the top flange. This process can be done from the exterior part of the window.

Step 2: Get Rid of Excess Concrete:

The hollow sash stops filled with concrete when the basement was poured, leaving a ridge that necessitates chiseling out. A pneumatic chisel does a speedy job of cleaning up the opening. Still, a masonry chisel or hammer is also useful for the chisel work too. The whole process requires less than three hours.


Constructing the Bucks

Removing the Old Frame

The next step is to cut out the old window frame. Because of the concrete, it best to use a multipurpose metal-grinding wheel mounted in a 4 inches angle grinder. The structure doesn’t need to cut entirely through since the deteriorated metal usually breaks along the ground line when prying the mount out. Stop at the concrete if cutting entirely through the sash. That way, the grinding wheel won’t be damaged. The outer side of the window may have a top extension covered with siding and wall sheathing. For better access, cut this flange after starting to pry the frame out of the opening.

The main idea of prying the top and bottom sides of the frame along their centers is to create an X-shape from the detached frame parts. Most times, the bottom of the metal frame extends around an inch into the concrete. Forcing out the old window may be speedy or it may take much work. At Custom Basement Windows, we have found that the older windows were built using a stronger gauge of steel, which makes for more work.

With the old window removed, the next step is to clean and seal the opening for the new window. Use a siloxane sealer that penetrates deep into the substrate where it chemically reacts to form a barrier within the pores that decreases the absorption of water by up to 95%. This mixture is used for sealing the gaps to reduce the possibilities of freeze-thaw damage around the window. The siloxane material lessens the chance of efflorescence occurring on the window opening. It also helps to keep moisture from seeping up via the concrete to the wood sill, which will be installed.

Fitting Sills to the Bottom

Set up the new window on top of a sill cut from a 2×8 pressure-treated board. To reduce the possibilities of the wood warping, you can choose a knot-free piece of wood that has a relatively straight grain. Arrange the interior side of the window to sit flush with the inside edge of the 2×8 and make use of a table saw to set a 5° to 10° slope on the exterior side of the sill for draining water away. If the height of your opening or selected window doesn’t allow the use of the full thickness 2x sill, you can plane or saw the stock to a slimmer size. Also, if the opening is not level, you can shim or taper the ledge.

To seal the joint between the concrete and sill, lay three beads of adhesive sealant on the concrete at 1 inch from the long side of the sill edges and one in the middle. Then, apply a thick bead on each end before fitting the sill in place.

Fitting and Attaching the Sill

Now that the sill is in place situate the window in the center of the opening. At this time, the window can be used as a guide to size the buck pieces on the top and the sides. If there is no room for a buck piece above the window, then use the mudslide as a buck. The sill must fit tightly. Use a few taps of the hammer to fit in the right position. To join the sill, drill, and drive concrete screws in the concrete.

Measure the Opening

Using a window resting on the sill and centered in the opening, measure the width of the gaps at different points to each vertical side to check if the bucks require tapering.

Side Bucks Get Angled Clips

Mark the plumb lines on the rough opening to fit the bucks. Also, tape the side buck pieces in place, toe screw stainless-steel trim-head screws in the mudsill at the top, and sill at the bottom.

Maintain the Stops:

Fit the wooden stops with stainless-steel trim-head screws. The upper part can be secured on a mudsill, while side stops can be fastened to the side bucks using screws driven at the slight angle.


New Window Installation

Bucks offers attachment and adjustment options

With the sill in place, you can dry-fit the window at the center of the opening by guiding the buck pieces for the sides and top sizes. Most times, this installation process doesn’t require a buck above the window. Since the mudsill above window holds the buck.

Custom Basement Windows prefer the western red cedar for both the buck pieces and external window stops. When sawed into thin pieces, the red cedar is more stable and less prone to warping compared to the pressure-treated southern pine. The side pieces are ripped to fit the thickness of the window frame and then they are planed or resawn to fill the gap between the concrete and window.

If the opening for the window is out of square by more than ¼ inch, then the buck pieces can be cut to a tapered thickness. If the buck pieces on the window are off by 1/16 inches or more, both pieces can be cut to the smaller dimension of the tapered gap on every side of the window. It is a good idea to subtract an added 1/16 inches from your initial measurement to allow for the thickness of the sealant, which will be applied. Doing this helps to tight-fit the window but not so tight the window unit needs to be forced in.

The exterior side of the new window requires stops around the top and down each side for the unit to seal. After refining the bucks and stops, apply a wood sealer, primer, stain, and paint to all sides of each piece and use a sealant to the perimeter.

Installing the Window

To install the window, Custom Basement Windows recommends applying a sealant to the internal surface of the window stops before sliding the window into the opening. If the window fits tightly between the bucks, don’t force it into place. To avoid damage, you can use a block plane to shave down the side channel of the vinyl frame.

Screw into the side of the window and through the sides of the buck pieces. Use screws that are long enough to fit into the wood but do not go into the concrete.

As an extra precaution, complete the job with a bead of sealant around the external and internal region of the window frame, except the outer part of the sill, which is left open for drainage.


The Bottom Line

Custom basement replacement windows offer a wide range of bucked opening. Due to this, they are undersized to provide an installer for some wiggle room during the installation process. If the opening is squared, Custom Basement Windows offers custom windows that are sized and fit in the opening and use concrete screws without bucks. Custom replacement windows are durable and cost-efficient. A custom window provides many benefits, which include labor savings and increased in the glazing region. So, do not hesitate to call Custom Basement Windows about your basement window needs today!