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5 DIY Window Well Covers

Window well covers keep out rain and pests while preventing people from falling in. Follow these instructions for five easy-to-make covers.

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Gettyimages 472605062 Window Well Credit CatlaneCATLANE/GETTY IMAGES

DIY Window Well Cover Considerations

If you need well covers for your basement windows, you won’t have much trouble finding pre-fab ones, and they usually aren’t expensive.

However, if you’re up for it, making them is an even better idea. Rather than trying to adapt a commercial product to your particular situation, you can fashion exactly what you want. Here are some things to consider before you start.

Whether you’re trying to keep out rain, pests or people, assess your priorities first. The reason(s) you need window well covers determines the best type to make. Think about these things when planning your project:

  • Waterproofing: You’ll need a solid cover to keep your wells dry, and it should be sloped to shed water.
  • Safety: To prevent people from falling into the window well, you’ll need a cover that prevents them from walking on the opening, or supports them if they do.
  • Pests: Window wells can be havens for mice, rats and other pests. The cover needs to be well sealed to keep them out.
  • Ventilation: Some basement windows have small wells intended primarily for air circulation. For these, a grate works better than a solid cover.
  • Egress: If you’re covering the well for an egress window, it must open easily from the inside and can’t obstruct people trying to get out of the basement in an emergency.
  • Appearance: Window well covers become part of the house. Wooden covers that can be painted tend to be the most attractive.
  • Light: Opaque covers block light. That might not matter if you use your basement for storage. But if you have finished basement and you’re down there regularly, you’ll probably prefer transparent covers.
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Fhm Waterproof Egress Window CoverFamily Handyman

Waterproof Egress Window Cover

To make this, start by cutting a pair of matching triangles from pressure-treated 2×8 lumber. The bases of the triangles should extend from the house to at least the outer perimeter of the window well, but they can be slightly longer.

Fasten the triangles together with pressure-treated 2x4s to make a frame that sits on top of the well wall or the ground beyond it. Attach a rectangular piece of plywood or plexiglass to the top of the frame with hinges, then screw the frame to the siding. You now have an openable cover that will keep out rain and pests.

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Fhm Easy To Make Safety Window Well CoverFamily Handyman

Easy-to-Make Safety Window Well Cover

Here’s how to make a simple wooden grate for window wells with square, rounded or rectangular corners, using 2×4 and 1×3 lumber.

Cut 2×4 runners to fit inside the well in the direction perpendicular to the house. Then attach them to 1×3 slats that overlap the sides of the well by two or three inches. Spacing the slats one or two inches apart, screw them to the runners with two-inch exterior wood screws. This cover prevents kids and pets from falling in.

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Fhm Lightweight Rain Protection Window Well CoverFamily Handyman

Lightweight Rain Protection Window Well Cover

Keep out rain and let in light with this simple cover, made from PVC pipe and clear polycarbonate roofing.

For the frame, glue 1- or 1-1/2-in. PVC pipe and fittings together with PVC cement. Use elbows for the front of the frame and tees for the back, then glue short lengths of pipe into the tees. These rest on the ground or the side of the window well, raise the back and make a slope.

Cut the roofing to size with a jigsaw or circular saw; choose a blade with a high tooth count. Then fasten it to the pipe with self-drilling roofing screws.

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Fhm Well Ventilated Egress Window Well CoverFamily Handyman

Well-Ventilated Egress Window Well Cover

This stay-in-place egress cover keeps out rain while providing ventilation and plenty of space on the uncovered sides. You’ll need 2x4s and corrugated plastic roofing.

Build two identical right-angle triangles about four feet high with bases that extend to the front of the well. Screw the triangles to the top of the well and the siding, then join them by screwing three or four evenly spaced 1x4s to them. Fasten clear corrugated roofing to the 1x4s with weathertight roofing screws.

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Fhm Simple Acrylic Window Well CoverFamily Handyman

Simple Acrylic Window Well Cover

If you have a galvanized steel window well with a semicircular cross-section, you can probably find a pre-fab cover for it. If not, here’s how to make your own.

Purchase a half-sheet of 1/4-in. acrylic (it’s cheaper than plexiglass). Set it on top of the well, trace the outline and cut with a jigsaw. Slit some clear flexible tubing lengthwise with a knife and fit it over the edges of the acrylic. This gives the cover a finished look. Set this on the well or attach it to the siding with hinges.

Chris Deziel
Chris Deziel has been active in the building trades for more than 30 years. He helped build a small city in the Oregon desert from the ground up and helped establish two landscaping companies. He has worked as a carpenter, plumber and furniture refinisher. Deziel has been writing DIY articles since 2010 and has worked as an online consultant, most recently with Home Depot's Pro Referral service. His work has been published on Landlordology, Apartments.com and Hunker. Deziel has also published science content and is an avid musician.