Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

How to cover over a basement window in layout space?

514 views
19 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
How to cover over a basement window in layout space?
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 7:42 PM

I have a double hung (not casement) basement window smack in the middle of one of my layout walls.  This side of my basement is only half underground.  The window is just above ground level on the outside and about 40 inches above the basement floor on the inside Confused

I've read a little in a MRR book about possible ways to disguise windows if I don't outright cover it with a backdrop.  My plan envisions hardboard backdrop thru this area but I don't know that I want to "permanently" cover this window.  

Has anyone attempted to build a "drop-in" section of backdrop to cover a window like this, or come up with any other creative solutions?  I'm debating whether I should paint the backdrop first and then cut out that section or if I should gap the backdrop at the window.  I would include pictures but - this being my first post - I don't have the time or inclination to figure it out right now Big Smile

Thanks

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 5,611 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, November 29, 2019 3:17 PM

To post pictures, you need to open an account in a photo hosting site, then go the "General Discussion" forum, and read all about it in Steve's "sticking note" on how to post pictures.  It's at the top of the list.

I'm not sure how I would handle this.  I have the normal 16"x32" basement windows at the top of the wall, and I covered up one of them completely.

Is your planned backdrop going to the ceiling?  Do you need some of the light from this window?  Do you need access to the window for an egress in case of fire?

Just kind of thinking out loud on some of things you have to consider.  

I guess if it were mine, and I the window is not needed, I'd consider going over it.

I'd probably put a shade on the window, and keep it pulled down, so from the outside, you don't see the back of the Masonite.

Mike.

 

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Friday, November 29, 2019 4:23 PM

I wish I could just cover it like a typical casement basement window.  I've thought about the same questions you have raised as well.  

My backdrop will be 3 - 4 feet tall, which will leave very little window exposed.  The bottom of my ceiling joists are ~ 85" above the basement floor, and my layout will be in the 40 - 42" height range, so that pretty much goes to the ceiling.

Natural light is always nice, but I don't think I can just gap it and do nothing: the juxtapostion would be too jarring and take viewers right out of the illusion.  

There is another window exactly the same on the same exterior wall on the other side of the block wall that runs down the center of my basement - effectively dividing the basement into 2 halves.  So technically I don't need it for egress either.  I even entertained removing and replacing it with concrete block.  Don't think that is the answer.  

Yet I'm reluctant to do something so "permanent" in front of the window that I could not rather quickly open it for fresh air for example when painting scenery or cutting wood etc.

[Let's be honest, you get a bunch of guys together, snacky food and drink are consumed, some of which have gaseous effects on the digestive system... you get my drift (draft?).  Sometimes you need to be able to ventilate.]

Certainly a shade is a good idea and I will do that in any event.  I figured someone would have rigged up a slotted backdrop of some sort to "drop in" to the gap when the trains are rolling.

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 9,746 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 29, 2019 4:59 PM

For a previous layout, I covered a regular-type basement window completely, using extruded styrofoam to cover the entire inside of the window and its frame, then covered that when I Installed the Masonite backdrop.  From the outside, it looked fine (light blue) and the foam provided extra insulation.  From the inside, you'd never know that the window was there.

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
...Natural light is always nice...

Well, it can be, but I prefer artificial lighting because you can have complete control of it.  If you want to photograph your work in sunlight, build a portable diorama for that purpose. 
The other advantage of covering the window completely is that no one can see your layout - it should be viewable only when you choose to display it to others.  Otherwise, it's simply a temptation for theft or vandalism.

When I built my current house, I deliberately had no windows put in that basement room, nor is there any heating or cooling necessary, so no place for ingress of dirt and dust other than what's brought into the room through the door, and nothing for anybody outside to see.

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
...My backdrop will be 3 - 4 feet tall, which will leave very little window exposed....


I wouldn't leave any of the window visible from inside of the room.

My backdrop is mostly drywall extending from the floor to the bottom of the ceiling joists, but most of the room's 10 corners have been "coved" to create the appearance of a seamless background.  The Masonite coves extend from the layout's varying heights to the underside of the suspended ceiling....

There's a "Layout (room) tour, with lots of photos..."HERE if you wanna kill some time. Smile, Wink & Grin

Wayne

  • Member since
    August 2019
  • 13 posts
Posted by Railroadfan1 on Friday, November 29, 2019 5:06 PM

Wayne,

Your layout is facinating. The caliber of your work is something to aspire to.

Thank you for the layout tour.

Scott.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 6,133 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Friday, November 29, 2019 5:20 PM

This is what I did, it lets in enough light I don't need to turn on the lights if I am just passing through. I can also open it but never have. I like to vacuum the dead bugs off the window sill and I would be worried about moisture issues if I closed it in.

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,118 posts
Posted by dknelson on Friday, November 29, 2019 5:30 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
I'm reluctant to do something so "permanent" in front of the window that I could not rather quickly open it for fresh air for example when painting scenery or cutting wood etc. [Let's be honest, you get a bunch of guys together, snacky food and drink are consumed, some of which have gaseous effects on the digestive system... you get my drift (draft?). Sometimes you need to be able to ventilate.]

Yes this proves you are a Milwaukee native ....

Don't underestimate how forgiving the eye is by which I mean, there are enough intrusions into the "illusion of reality" on any layout that interruptions in the backdrop for windows won't matter much.  After all think of all these double and even triple deck layouts being built - talk about being taken right out of the illusion, yet operators on such layouts insist they hardly notice the other decks.

I do recall reading about someone whose backdrop was at least partly painted on a large old fashioned roll down shade.  I suspect it looked pretty pathetic, like the stage scenery in a junior high school play.

My basement windows are higher up on the wall than yours.  I just cut an opening in the masonite backdrop for each window.   I wanted whatever natural light they could offer (they are glass block windows and can't be opened.  I have other windows which can be opened for the gassy guest (and host) phenomenon).  I did toy with the idea of having the backdrop covering the window be hinged so it could drop down or flipped back up  - I go to wondering just how often I'd bother with it.  And somehow I suspect it too would look cheesy and might indeed be more distracting than the simple opening.

Dave Nelson 

 

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Friday, November 29, 2019 5:43 PM

Good points Dave.  Personally, the multiple deck layout just doesnt work for my brain.  I just can't suspend disbelief.

Lol at your initial comment.

Yep, born and raised, 85th and Villard.....

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Friday, November 29, 2019 5:46 PM

Yes, moisture issues is the big one for me.  The temp and humidity swings in this part of the Midwest are awful.  Even with a commercial grade dehumidifier I prefered to tear out my whole basement down to the block and just build in an unfinished basement so I can keep an eye on moisture and cracks etc...

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 5,682 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 29, 2019 7:31 PM

I have one window that will need to be covered.

.

I plan to simply install a single sheet of 1/2" drywall right over the window and wall that will become the backdrop.

.

I will leave a gap at the top like Brent did, but a shelf will disguise the gap.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 9,746 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 29, 2019 10:30 PM

Railroadfan1
...Thank you for the layout tour. Scott.

And thank you for your kind comment, Scott.

Wayne

  • Member since
    March 2011
  • 604 posts
Posted by NVSRR on Saturday, November 30, 2019 10:16 AM

I try to design

so a window is at the end of an aisle.  Or i can get to it easily in case something happens that makes that my only way out.  Something to keep in mind

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 5,611 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, November 30, 2019 10:27 AM

And, if there is the layout and scenery in front of the window, I don't see the point of being able to get at and open it, or make a removable panel.

NVSRR suggestion at the end of aisle makes sense.

Mike.

  • Member since
    February 2017
  • 100 posts
Posted by Deane Johnson on Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:34 AM

I wanted my layout room totally dark so I could have complete control of the  lighting at all times.

I've ended up using several approaches in the same room.  On one of my windows on a wall covered with dark paneling I simply tacked a piece of 1/8" hardboard over the window.  The hardboard was already colored about the same as the paneling.  In this case, it's never noticed.

On a large patio door that I wanted to keep useable as a fire egress, I put a large Hunter Douglas cordless blackout honeycomb on it.  With my layout about 50" above the floor, the slider lock mechanism is below the layout so in case of an emergencey one only has to push the cordless shade up to layout height, unlock the door, and evacuate.  I considered motorized, but determined a saftey exit shouldn't depend on anything other than just being pushed up out of the way in a hurry.  Biggest negative is that a patio door cordless blackout honeycomb is going to run about $750.

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:15 PM

If I figured this out correctly there should be a few pictures of the offending window here:

IMG_1323

by The Milwaukee Road Warrior, on Flickr

IMG_0502

by The Milwaukee Road Warrior, on Flickr

IMG_0522

by The Milwaukee Road Warrior, on Flickr

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    February 2017
  • 100 posts
Posted by Deane Johnson on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:26 PM

Is that fan going to stay there???

Is the window a factor as a fire escape???

Will there be layout benchwork under the window???

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:44 PM

The fan is just temporary while I was repainting the walls.

Window is not needed for egress.

Layout will run along the long wall on the right, along and under the window, and fill the space on the wall on the left up to the newly added electrical room (with door).  In order to run continuous I plan to run the main line thru the electrical room.  Main lines will exit the other end of the electrical room (off camera) and circle around into photo foreground and then back along the long wall on the right.

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    November 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:46 PM

Pic shows the electrical room with door.  Entire area is 16 x 12.

IMG_0527

by The Milwaukee Road Warrior, on Flickr

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

  • Member since
    February 2017
  • 100 posts
Posted by Deane Johnson on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 6:22 PM

OK, that seems to clear out a bunch of potential issues.  Good.

If this were mine, I'd go the economy route which would also be the most effective and easy.  It appears you have at least some rough trim around the window.  I'd cut a piece of 1/8" hardboard (masonite type) to just fit over the trim.  I'd lightly tack it in each of the four corners, and probably about midway up the sides.  At that point, I'd add any additional tacks that appear necessary to make a nice solid installation.  This material is easy to keep in place due to it's rigidity.  You can paint it the wall color if you wish.

If your weather is such that you're concerned with moisture forming on the window in the winter, you can do a honeycomb blackout shade instead and raise it up when you're not using the train room.  The cheapest you can find will do the job so long as it's blackout, they call them room darkening.  I wouldn't do a cheap one in a high use area, but this won't get much use, doesn't even need to be raised in the summer time.

If you end up having to do the honeycomb and you are getting too much light leak around the edges, you might need to make some channels to go on the side.  If so, let me know and I'll show you how to do that the easy way.  I just finished some side channels on a honeycomb on a patio door and the light stoppage is close to 100%.

Deane

 

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Clinton, MO, US
  • 4,041 posts
Posted by Medina1128 on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 8:18 AM

mbinsewi
Is your planned backdrop going to the ceiling?  Do you need some of the light from this window?  Do you need access to the window for an egress in case of fire?

Mike brings up an interesting point. I'd check the local fire codes where you live before I put up something relatively permanent.

 

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!