How Wide Should A Basement Door Be?

Urbanization has made many homeowners upgrade their homes, looking to basements in a new light as modernized living spaces. And within our living spaces, doors provide security and privacy. So, how wide should your doors be in the basement? We asked building and construction experts about this, and they gave us some answers.

The width of a basement door depends on the doorway where it will be installed, its style, and the type of door. Exterior basement doors are generally wider than interior ones. Interior basement doors are usually 28, 30, or 32 inches wide. Exterior doors are meant for security and are sometimes wider by two or four inches (32 or 36 inches wide).

There seems to be a lot to consider when installing a basement door. Basement doors aren't independent of the house. They reflect the house decor indoors or outdoors, and the homeowner's taste, too. Continue reading as we elaborate on how the door location dictates its size, especially the width.

Modern contemporary inspired basement with vinyl flooring, white ceiling with recessed lighting and large sofas, How Wide Should A Basement Door Be

Basement Door Types And Sizes

How you access your basement helps you choose and install the appropriate basement door. If a basement is accessed on the inside of the house, then you'll need a standard interior basement door. Basements that are accessed from the outside require an exterior door that might be wider in size.

Basement doors in the basement can be standard door sizes. Although, you could opt for wider doors to facilitate easy movement of furniture or other large items in and out of the basement.

Interior Basement Doors

Interior doors come in standard sizes, including basement doors. They are primarily for privacy and not security.


A basement door frame of 34" will require a 32" door while a 36" door will require a frame of 38". A door that leads to your basement area and those in the basement should be wide enough to accommodate large items going in and out of the basement.


Install pre-hung basement doors in your basement. They are fantastic and come with door frames, doors, and doorknobs. They are mostly wooden.


Interior basement doors needn't be too stylish to avoid compromising their practicality. Although, you could work with different shades and colors on the basement doors to brighten them. Adding decorative or plain glass (where necessary) will help bring in more light in the basement.

Exterior Basement Doors

Exterior doors come in standard sizes, and others come in irregular sizes. A secure exterior basement door might be heavier and sturdier.


Exterior basement doors are sometimes wider than usual doors. You might find that exterior doors are short, but they are never shorter than 80 inches.


These doors can be metallic, glass, or sturdy wooden doors. In some cases, they are double doors or french doors.


Security and style can go hand in hand on exterior basement doors. You could have exterior basement doors with windows for walk-in basements. Bright-colored exterior basement doors are also an option.

Note: Exterior and interior basement doors should allow easy egress during emergencies for residents to escape.

What To Consider When Buying Basement Doors

Interior of an empty basement with wooden flooring, white walls, and a hardwood door

After fitting in the frames of your basement doors, you might want to consider the following before actually buying the basement door.

  • When replacing a basement door on a pre-existing door frame, you could buy the slab only.
  • Order your doors in advance; particularly, solid doors. Solid doors are costly and need specific measurements. So, don't order at the last minute or when in a hurry.
  • Choose solid core doors. They are better than hollow core doors, and less expensive than solid doors for the interior.
  • Pre-hung doors are an excellent option. They come ready to install in the doorway with doorknobs and all.

How Do You Rough In A Basement Door

Roughing in a door means having the frame carry all the weight of the house through it to the foundation. As we've seen, a door frame must be 2" wider than the actual door.

To rough in a door, you should measure from the bottom of the header of any basement door to the concrete floor at 82". This ensures that when any standard doors are installed in the basement, they will fit in the doorways.

How Much Does It Cost To Put A Door In A Basement

The cost of installing a door in the basement will depend on the labor involved. Typically it costs about $350 to $1,100 as it's considered an interior door. It could cost a little more on some occasions. The costlier the upgrade of your basement is, the higher your home value.

It will cost more to install a walkout basement door, and less to install a partitioning door in the basement. Exterior basement doors are bulkier than interior basement doors.

A small working area in the basement with gray walls, white flooring and recessed lighting

The framework needed for an interior door is often meant for standard-sized doors. Whereas, exterior basement doors might not always be standard. They could be custom-made depending on how wide the basement doorway is.

Door materials are another important aspect to consider. Exterior doors could be wooden, metallic, or glass whilst interior basement doors are often wooden.

Interior basement doors are wooden because the finishing of the basement is usually wood. Moreover, wooden doors are cheaper and safer for the basement interior.

How Do You Measure The Basement For A Bulkhead Door

Bulkheads come in standard sizes, and you must have the exact measurements of your basement door. These doors swing outwards and have to be well-fitting. You'll avoid compromising your security before construction an installation.

A cozy light themed basement with white ceilings, recessed lighting and gorgeous furnitures all over the room

What you need to measure is:

  1. Width: The width of your basement stairs. A bulkhead must be wider than the door but fits the door frame. The standard width of most bulkheads is 4.5 feet. Most homes have a standard width of stairs, but a wider bulkhead is a plus when carrying large objects in and out of the basement.
  2. Length: There is no height reference for bulkhead doors but length. The length refers to how far the doors swing-out. Calculate the angle of the stairways and the depth of the basement. Steep stairs will have a shorter bulkhead opening, while less steep ones will have a longer one.

Order a bulkhead that will fit instead of making adjustments and alterations. Ensure that you are in line with the local building codes and laws.

How To Install Bulkhead Basement Door

Once you have the door delivered with the required measurements, you can start the installation. You can install or reinstall a bulkhead with these simple-to-follow steps:

  • First, remove any old bulkhead door previously installed and clean the area before you commence installation.
  • Next, use fast-setting grout to even out any dents and voids on the foundation.
  • Once the grout is dry and set, mount the wood seals and screw them to the foundation. Secure the wood seals with long screws.
  • Next, install foundation plates. The foundation plates usually come in pieces that will be cut to fit the doorway. Ensure that they sit properly with no gaps or voids.
  • Install the header, then the frame. Insulate all the seams thoroughly during installation.
  • Finally, install the doors before screwing the frame completely into the doorway. Prime the bulkhead door and paint it to blend with the rest of your home decor.

Watch the project unfold as This Old House demonstrates a bulkhead replacement in the video below:

What Size Is A Standard Bilco Door

The Bilco Company has a classic series with 6", 12", 18", and 24" standard door lengths. They also offer the opportunity to mount two doors back to back to increase the door length.

The available extension combinations are 6" and 12" lengths. Homeowners can order the desired size, have it delivered, and fitted, too.

The Bilco Company provides keyed lock kits for homeowners to enjoy the convenience of locking their bulkhead basement doors. These easy-to-install locks are made of high-quality steel and are secure. Bilco keyed locks are readily found in online stores.


Check this Bilco Bulkhead Lock on Amazon.

In Closing

Luxurious mint green colored basement with recessed lighting, carpeted flooring and post modern furnitures

Basement doors are standard sizes. The most common interior basement doors are 32" wide. Manufacturers also make smaller doors. Exterior basement doors are usually wider in size by two or four inches.

Both exterior and interior basement doors could remain stylish while providing security, safety, and privacy. To block noise from the bustling surroundings you could soundproof your basement doors.

Read the following posts:

How To Soundproof A Basement Apartment

How To Seal Basement Door [Including Bulkhead Doors]

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