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What Is a Walk-Up Basement?

What Is a Walk-Up Basement?

A basement in their home is a dream for many people. With a basement, you can have extra storage space, a second living room, a room for an extended family member to live with you for a few months, or a room for guests to sleep when they are in town.

But when you search for homes with basements, you will notice two keywords pertaining to basements: walk out basements and walk-up basements. Just what is a walk-up basement?

A walk-up basement is a basement that is not connected to the house. It can be built with the rest of the house or as a separate structure. However, you cannot access the house through a door in a hallway, kitchen, or separate room.

There are several advantages and disadvantages to having a home with a walk-up basement. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Walk-Up Basement?

A walk-up basement is a basement that has stairs, and you must use these stairs to enter and exit the basement. These basements can be accessed through the doorway in the home or it can have a separate entrance or both.

A walk-up basement can be built into the house or it can be its own separate structure.

I would rather have a basement that is separate from the house. If something were to happen to the house or if the house is damaged or burned, whatever caused the damage would not affect the basement.

Walk-Up Basement Pros and Cons

There are several pros and cons to a walk-up basement. Before buying a house with a walk-up basement, weight each pro and con and determine if the walk-up basement is worth the trouble.


  • The temperature remains stable all year long
  • If attached to the house, this type of basement is excellent for a second living space
  • Can be built anywhere
  • Can be added onto an existing house
  • Can be used as a second escape route from the house if the basement as an additional stairway to the outside


  • If the stairs are damaged, you cannot enter or exit the basement safely
  • The cost of replacing basement stairs ranges from $800 to $2000
  • If the stairwell is outside, the rain, dirt, and mud can make the stairs dangerous to walk on

What is the Difference between a Walk Out and a Walk-Up Basement?

Although there are many types of basements, the basement style that most homeowners prefer is the walk-out basement. It is the easiest of all basements to access.

Homeowners who are looking to rent out their basement or who would like to use the basement as a guest room or as a fourth bedroom would prefer a walk-out basement.

The fundamental difference between a walkout basement and a walk-up basement is how you access each basement. In a walk-out basement, there is nothing between you and the door to the garden or patio.

You can simply open the door and walk out. In order to achieve this, the walk-out basement has to be built on a slope or on the hill. It can’t be built just anywhere.

On the other hand, a walk-up basement can be built on any type of property. To enter and exit a walk-up basement, you have to use the stairs.

There are two types of walk-up basements:

  • A basement that has the stairs completely covered. You must lift the door above your head when you reach the top of the stairs.
  • A basement that has a door right before the stairs. The basement stairs are exposed and there is no door at the top of the stairs. The stairs will look nicer, and have a guard rail around them so nobody falls into the stairwell.

How to Cover the Walk-Up Stairs From the Basement?

Covering walk-up basement stairs is a good idea, as it can be an extra layer of protection against water damage, dirt, and animals like raccoons and even mountain lions from calling your basement their new home.

Wooden staircase with basement door

If you cannot view the basement doors from a window in the house, covering the doors can act as an extra layer of security, in case somebody wants to break into your basement.

There are two types of covers: heavy semi-permanent covers and easily removable covers.

If you use the basement once every few months, or you want to seal the basement for the next year, then purchase a semi-permanent basement cover. A semi-permanent basement cover should:

  • Be heavy and completely cover the doors
  • Shield the basement doors and stairs from water damage, flooding damage, and sunlight damage
  • Prevent critters from chewing through the wooden doors

If you are in the basement often and even live down there, then buy a light or temporary basement cover. Temporary basement covers should:

  • Be light and easily opened when unlocked
  • Act as extra security to keep intruders from entering the basement
  • Prevent rain water from flooding the stairs

Ugly Basement Doors?

If the sight of the old stained doors and chipping threshold causes you to grimace every time you walk by, painting and priming the doors should fix that. You also have the option of removing the double doors from the basement entrance and replacing it with one large door. But, if you replace the double doors with a large door, you need strength to lift and open the door.

Conclusion to Walk-Up Basements

A walk-up basement is a basement that requires stairs to enter and exit the space. Walk-up basements can be built in any type of home. Walk-up basement can either be part of the house or it can be a separate unit.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.