How to Convert a Buried Basement Wall to a Walkout

By Sidney Johns , last updated March 13, 2012
Renovating a basement from buried to walkout increases the actual living space in a home. For the home with a buried basement, the only way in or out of a basement is through the upper portion of the house. A walkout basement allows occupants to enter or exit the building through the basement by adding an exterior door. The conversion process is multifaceted as it requires interior and exterior work. Parts of the project may require professional assistance depending on the location of the home.
  1. Excavate and landscape the surrounding yard area to the level of the basement floor. This part of the project is highly dependent on the soil in the area. Clay and other hard soil compositions may only require removal of the dirt from the area and subsequent sloping of the surrounding landscape. For sand or other loose composites, concrete or wood walls may need to be put in place to hold back the soil. Consult with professional landscapers in the case of loose soil.
  2. Select a steel-framed, pre-hung door. The depth of the frame should match the depth of the basement wall.
  3. Place the steel frame of the door against the interior basement wall in the spot chosen for the exit. Trace around the outside of the frame with chalk onto the wall.
  4. Measure 1/2-inch inward from each side of the chalk marks. Use a measuring tape to shrink the drawn frame by 1/2-inch on each side and down from the top.
  5. Place a chisel on the interior side of the drawn chalk lines and hit with a hammer. Repeat this action several times around the immediate interior of the drawn frame.
  6. Cut along the chalk line with a masonry saw with a silicon blade. Place the blade in one of the chisel cuts along the cut line. Cut slow and evenly around the entire drawn frame area.
  7. Use a hammer to pound out the interior section of the cut area. Be cautious of falling masonry.
  8. Sand the frame area. Use 60-grit sandpaper on an orbital sander to smooth the opening.
  9. Place the door frame into the opening and bolt in place. Remove the door from the frame by removing the hinges. Have an assistant hold the frame in place and use a drill with a masonry bit to drill the holes through the screw openings.
  10. Secure the frame in place with concrete screws. Be sure the concrete screws are the proper size for the door frame screw openings.
  11. Put the door back on the hinges.
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