Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Windows: What Is the Difference?

Whether you're building a home from scratch or giving your current residence a face-lift, there are a few factors to consider when deciding on the type of window you'll use. Choosing between single-hung and double-hung windows comes down to cost, maintenance, and energy efficiency.

The Single Hung Vs Double Hung Windows Option

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When it comes to picking out windows, there can be an overwhelming number of options in terms of style. But before you start looking at trims and shapes, you must decide between single-hung or double-hung windows. Single-hung windows have the top sash fixed in place, so only the bottom sash can be moved up. Double-hung windows allow both the bottom and the top sash to move so you can have two sashes open at the same time. Even though they look identical from the street, there are some major things to consider when comparing single-hung vs. double-hung windows. Get to know these seven key differences to decide on the right style for your home.

Single-hung windows are more common than double-hung windows.

Single-hung windows (also known as sash windows) are more common than double-hung windows because they’ve been around longer. While the exact origin of the single-hung window is not determined, Historic England, an organization that champions protecting old architecture, reports that architects began using sash windows in home design as far back as the 17th century. That’s why single-hung windows are more likely to be used when restoring older, historic homes. In addition to its long history, single-hung windows are also cheaper to purchase and install.

On the other hand, double-hung windows are a modern style that has only recently started gaining in popularity due to them being easier to clean than single-hung windows. They’re more likely to be used in newer homes.

Double-hung windows are more expensive to purchase and install.

Single-hung windows tend to be a more affordable option. Even when they are identical in style and size, double-hung windows can cost around 75 percent more than single-hung windows, according to Fixr, an online marketplace to hire contractors and builders for home projects.

Single-hung windows average around $100 to $300 per window. Double-hung windows range anywhere from $400 to $600—and that’s not including the installation. Costs for installing a single-hung window are also lower, ranging from $75 to $100 while installing double-hung windows costs between $150 to $250. Double-hung window costs can get even higher due to more options for size, energy efficiency, window frame material, and UV protection.

These high costs make single-hung windows a better option for those operating within a tighter budget.

The Single Hung Vs Double Hung Windows Option

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Single-hung windows can be difficult to maintain and clean.

Despite being a cheaper alternative to double-hung windows, single-hung windows require extra effort to keep clean. You have to be inside to clean the interior of the window and outside to clean the exterior. Meanwhile, double-hung windows tilt inside, which means you can spray both the window’s interior and exterior sides with the best glass cleaner all while staying inside the home. Some single-hung windows do tilt inside but only on the bottom panel—you’d still have to reach through the window outside (or go outside) to clean the upper panel.

Depending on where you live, and the current season, windows should be cleaned at least every other month. While it might be a bit of a pain to clean first-floor single-hung windows, it will be much more so to clean those installed on any upper stories.

Double-hung windows offer more ventilation.

Are you tired of your room feeling stuffy? Then double-hung windows might be the type for you. Because they open from both the top and the bottom of the frame, double-hung windows offer much more ventilation than single-hung windows, which only open at the bottom.

With the double-hung window, you not only have the option to open the top of the window instead of the bottom, but you can also open both panels halfway at the same time to create a recirculating effect. Opening your window like this will, in theory, allow warm air from the home to escape outside while simultaneously allowing fresh air from outside to come in.

Single-hung windows are more energy-efficient.

When it comes to being energy-efficient, single-hung windows are typically thought of as being more energy efficient because they have less moving parts. However, according to the US Department of Energy, both single and double-hung windows tend to have higher air leakage rates than projecting or hinged windows. Double-hung windows specifically don’t always seal properly at the top edge of the frame, leading to higher costs on your monthly electricity bill. High-quality, well-sealed double-hung windows do exist, but you’re going to have to pay a little more money to get that versatility in a more energy-efficient way.

The Single Hung Vs Double Hung Windows Option

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Some double-hung windows can be less secure if not shut properly.

As with any other opening that could be an entrance to your home, safety is a huge issue. With windows, double-hung tend to be less secure. If you don’t adequately shut a double-hung window, gravity can slightly pull down the upper sash and cause it not to lock completely. Of course, this issue can easily be fixed by testing to make sure the window is locked after you shut it.

However, single-hung windows could be dangerous for homes with small children. With a double-hung window, you could open just the top panel while leaving the bottom closed, something you can’t do with a single-hung window.

Still, both double-hung and single-hung windows can be secure so long as you take proper safety measures.

Many different styles are available for double-hung windows.

One reason double-hung windows are growing in popularity is the wider variety of options manufactured today—the more choices, the more likely you’ll find a finish and design that works best for your style. However, there are still many options for single-hung windows, even though they are commonly used in historic-looking homes. Both window types come in vinyl, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum frames.

No matter what aesthetics you’re looking to achieve with the exterior of your home, there’s a good chance you can find both a single- and double-hung window to complement it.