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Residential Building codes, Egress, and Safety Glass

Egress code for bedrooms

A window must have its bottom edge (sill) within 44 inches of the floor—unless it has a door leading out of the house.    A bedroom converted to an office, still is considered a bedroom by a building inspector.    


The vent panel of a window, its glass dimensions, must be a minimum of 20 inches wide and 24 inches tall and the total glass area must measure 5.7 square feet.  It is not the vent (sash) size but the glass area that is measured.  Thus for example if the Milgard Styline which just meets egress code; the same dimension window in the thicker frame Classic series will not meet code.  If in doubt, check with manufacturer of window. 


Tempered/laminated glass must be used in the following locations:

1.  In all doors

2.  Glazing in any bath, shower, hot tub, sauna, steam room, or whirlpool in which the glazing portion is less than 60 inches above a standing surface and drain inlet (60 inches from floor to sill).

3.  Glazing adjacent to a door where the nearest exposed edge of the glazing is within a 24-inch arc of either vertical edge of the door in a closed position, and where the bottom edge is less than 60 inches above the waking surface (60 inches above the door).  EXCEPTIONS when there is an intervening wall or other permanent barrier located between the door and the glazing.  If a slider, the second panel of the window is more than 24 inches from the door, then it doesn’t have to be tempered.  Note:  a window sash within 24 inches of the fixed panel of a patio door must be tempered. 

4.  If a window's bottom edge is 18 inches from the floor, then it must be tempered.   

 5.  Windows adjacent to a stairways must be tempered. 

There are other codes.  One governs the ventilation of a bathroom, either by window or air vent.  Another covers the area of a dwelling as per operable sashes (1/20th of floor space).  Another for thickness glass, (varies with size of sash), and strength of glass (annealed).    There are (of course) special codes for new construction.


There is no grandfather clause:  New windows must meet current building codes.


If a building inspector is coming out concerning other work, there is a reasonable risk that he will spot replacement windows that don’t meet codes—even if you bought the home that way.

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