Basement windows are the weakest security link in many homes. They’re out of view, easy to reach and the basement as a dark and unoccupied room can provide an easy gateway for burglars into other parts of your home. These are all good reasons to improve the locks and overall security of your basement window. I’ll show you exactly how to do it in this article. Here’s the overview of the steps:
- Use a reliable lock. There are many window locks available, some designed for horizontal or vertical sliding windows, others for doublehangers. Having two locking devices, such as a standard lock plus a window barricade is the way to go.
- Make it harder to reach the basement window from the outside. For example, install window grilles (bars) on the exterior side of the window, plant large thorny shrubbery next to it. Metal grilles will prevent the intruder from even approaching the window. Unless they put in the effort of removing it or cutting through it, which is a lot of work. Shrubbery will make the whole process literally painful.
- Increase the resistance of your window’s glass panels with security film. Window security film is a self-adhesive layer of vinyl and plastic that keeps glass shards in place. So if a burglar tries to smash the window, they’ll need to put in more effort and noise to clear away the shards. Which increases their risk of getting caught.
- Install an alert and monitoring device. In case anyone tries to mess with your basement window, you’ll want to know it’s happening in order to call the police or chase them away. There are many security cameras with motion sensors, as well as simple window alarms that can come in handy.
There are a few other security tips worth mentioning, and you’ll find them at the end of the article. Before that, let’s break down these 4 steps further so you can know EXACTLY how to make your basement window impenetrable.
1. Get (or make) a reliable window lock/barricade
The type of window of you have will determine how it’s locked. For sliding windows your best option are window barricades. The most popular barricades are a good old-fashioned window security bar (Amazon link) and its smaller brother Burglarbar. These two security devices are designed to block the sliding panel of the window from sliding open.
For double hanging windows you can drill a few holes in the window sash on both panels. When they’re closed, place a nail inside the holes so that it can’t open without breaking the nails. Which is really close to impossible in any ordinary break in attempt. For a step-by-step guide on making this DIY window lock check out my article on how to secure a window with a broken lock.
The great thing about these locking devices is that they require no installation. Except for drilling a few holes in the window sash in the case of the DIY window lock, there’s nothing else to do except place the barricade/nails when you want to secure the window and remove them when you wish to open it. There’s no need to make intricate measures, break the window sash in half and insert an overly complicated lock with a handle, a latch etc. Window barricades are just as effective at keeping burglars outside, where they belong.
2. Block the window from the outside with grilles and thorny shrubs
Make it hard for the burglar to access the window. Install metal bars like these window guards from Amazon. Also plant thorny shrubs near the window. The shrubs should be large enough that the burglar can’t move around it. UK police made a list of 30 thorny bushes for home security.
One reader mentioned that they planted climbing roses all around their home, including the fence. While their neighbors suffered multiple break ins throughout the years, they’ve had none.
It’s almost as if burglars don’t like prickly plants getting in their way! So if you opt for this, you’ll definitely find one that fits your environment.
3. Increase glass thickness with security film
The glass on your basement window can probably be smashed without you or anyone else noticing. The burglar can place a towel on the glass to muffle the noise and hit it a few times with a stone or a hammer. Your lock won’t work if he’s able to reach inside with his hand and unlock the window.
To prevent such an easy capitulation, install thick security film on the window that will keep the glass shards on the window for longer. This will require more effort from the burglar and produce more noise. Security film is covered with a self-adhesive backing. All you really need to do is cut it to the correct size using a knife or scissors and stick it on the glass (from the inside).
You can further improve security by adding a privacy film that will prevent burglars from peaking inside your basement. Keep them guessing whether its occupied or not, and whether there’s anything worth taking. Rather than proudly displaying your basement inventory to the trespassers .
To see the best window privacy and security film, and also how to install it check out my full guide on this topic.
4. Install an alert & monitor device
Most burglaries happen while no one’s at home to hear and catch the burglar. If the burglar has enough time and privacy, the before mentioned security measures could prove to be lacking. That’s why it’s really important to add a monitoring device to any vulnerable entrance point of a house.
There are two options available for basement windows: alarms and security cameras. Either option is fine, but I want to stress out one thing – it should be a remote alert device. In other words, it should have the option of alerting you on an electronic device even when you’re far away from home. Otherwise you’ll depend on your neighbors or a random passerby and that’s rarely a good thing. After all, no one is concerned more about your property than yourself.
In my opinion, security cameras are better than alarms because they provide both an alert and monitoring system. Instead of wondering why the alarm went off, you can see through the camera lens in real time through your electronic device (mobile phone, laptop etc.). Perhaps it’s just a cat or a bird that accidentally hit the window. Or maybe it’s a menacing villain. With a camera you can immediately check what’s going on from a safe distance.
Best security camera for a basement window
Now this is the fun part, because there are so many excellent cameras available. You can go with a standard outdoor home security camera like . Or you can go with a mini “spy” camera that has a magnetic backing and can be installed indoor/outdoor to monitor the window.
From my experience the mini-camera is a better option because it’s less noticeable. The problem with monitoring a basement window with a standard outdoor cam is the positioning; if the camera doesn’t have solid long range vision, you have to install it relatively low. This gives the burglar a chance to hit it with a rock or a stick, or turn it in another direction before breaking in. A mini-camera can be placed low but it’s less likely to be noticed. Oh and did I mention that mini cameras are more affordable?
Two months ago I got the Mini Spy Camera (link to Amazon) for my apartment window. It has 1080P full HD video quality, night vision, motion detection and most importantly Wi-Fi connectivity. It sends an alert to your phone with an image shot when it detects motion. It’s weatherproof so you can place it indoor or outdoor.
The reason why I got this cam instead of other spy cams on the market is because the motion sensor doesn’t get triggered by random occurrences like wind and rain. It is able to make these distinctions so I’m not receiving any false alerts. But I of course tried entering with the camera on and it immediately sent an alert on my phone so it’s obviously working well. I got it for less than $45 on Amazon and that’s the best price that I’ve found so far.
Final Word: How to Lock and Secure a Basement Window
Locking a basement window involves using a standard window lock and/or a barricade lock for extra protection. The window can be further secured with metal grilles on the inside or outside of the window. Other protective barriers such as thorny shrubs can be used to make it more difficult to approach the window.
Installing security film on the glass panels will make them more resistant to brute force, keeping the glass shards in place for longer. Lastly, you can use a monitoring and/or alarm device to get notified in case of a break-in attempt. Hope this helps!