When we moved into our house, the basement was completely unfinished, and that included the window wells. We spent a year and a half finishing the basement, but we never did anything about the window wells. For the past six months, “window wells” has been on our “to-figure-out” list, but we weren’t sure what we were going to do with them. They were definitely ugly. I wish I had taken a picture of the bad one before we spruced it up this weekend. I didn’t think of that until we finished, but I can show you a before shot of the good one:
The other one had a lot more rust (it was near a down spout that the previous owner had draining right next to the house instead of further away from the foundation) and tons of concrete splattered all over it. The windows had lots of concrete splatters too:
When we finished the basement, I cleaned the insides of the windows, but they really needed to be completely removed, scraped, and scrubbed, and that hadn’t happened yet.
We looked around at ready-made finishing/decorating ideas for window wells, but they were ridiculously expensive. So we went the DIY route, which was a lot less fancy but also a lot less money.
Our five-year-old loved helping out with this project. Hanging out in the window well, scraping concrete and painting? Exactly what he wanted to be doing!
First, we removed the entire window and carried it out to the back yard. We scraped off all of the concrete splatters and scrubbed the whole thing before putting it back in place. We used the shop vac to clean out all the nooks and crannies and then we scraped all of the concrete splatters off the walls of the window well. We sanded the whole thing (that part took a while because the one we did first had a lot of rust – the one pictured above is going to be a breeze next weekend) and then wiped it all clean.
We spent about $20 on paint, which will be enough for both of our window wells. We used primer first to cover the rust spots that didn’t come off with sandpaper and then covered the entire thing with another coat of primer. Then we painted two coats of light blue exterior paint on the whole thing, and here’s what we have now:
Half of the battle was getting the window sparkly and clean, as concrete on the glass is a bit distracting. But the window well looks so much better too. This is what you see now when you walk into our playroom:
A whole lot better than a bunch of concrete splatters and rust!
The next part of our plan is to transplant some of the native grass from our backyard into the bottom of the window wells, and add some river rock (we have extra in our backyard). The native grass is a couple feet tall but is very drought tolerant – it will add some interest in that space without requiring much in the way of maintenance. And it will also provide a bit of a habitat for the toads that inevitably fall into our window wells and need to be rescued. The plan is to do the other window well and the grass/rocks in the bottom of both of them over the next week or so.
The total cost of supplies for this project (both windows) was about $20 for paint, since we already had the few tools that we needed. It’s nothing fancy, but it sure beats what we had before, and it doesn’t require a whole new budget like some of the custom window well treatments that we saw.
If you’ve got plain basement window wells that are in need of a little love, don’t forget about the miracles of elbow grease and paint!