Single Hung vs Double Hung Windows

Published May 20, 2024
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Lake Washington Windows

Choosing the right windows for your home significantly impacts your comfort and utility bills. If you’re considering new windows, understanding the differences between single hung and double hung windows is crucial. Single hung windows feature a fixed sash on top and an operable sash at the bottom that moves up and down, making them a cost-effective and energy efficient option. Double hung windows, on the other hand, have two movable sashes that allow for increased ventilation and easier cleaning. This guide will equip you with the necessary information to make the best choice for your home’s needs and aesthetics.

Understanding Window Operation

What is a Single Hung Window?

Single hung windows are designed with a fixed sash on the top and an operable sash at the bottom. The bottom sash can move up and down, allowing you to open the window from the bottom for fresh air. This traditional window style is popular due to its simplicity and lower cost, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to replace windows while keeping to a budget.

What is a Double Hung Window?

Double hung windows offer more flexibility with two operable sashes. This means both the upper sash and the lower sash can be opened, either from the top to let hot air escape or from the bottom to bring in cool air. This feature makes double hung windows ideal for enhancing air circulation and making cleaning easier, especially in multi-story homes.

What Do Single-Hung and Double-Hung Windows Have in Common?

Both single and double hung windows share several features: they both consist of a window frame holding window sashes, and they are often made from similar materials like wood, clad-wood, vinyl, or fiberglass windows. Additionally, both styles can be equipped with modern features such as energy efficient glass and tilt latches for easier operation. These commonalities make them both excellent choices for maintaining the classic look of your home while improving functionality.

Feature Single-Hung Windows Double-Hung Windows
Operation Only the lower sash moves. Both upper sash and lower sash move.
Ventilation Limited to lower sash opening. Increased ventilation with two openings.
Cleaning Exterior cleaning can be challenging. Easier cleaning due to tilting sashes.
Cost Generally lower price than double-hung. Higher cost due to more complex design.
Energy Efficiency Good, with fewer areas for air leaks. Very good, especially with modern upgrades.
Safety Fewer options to open reduce fall risk. Safer for children with upper sash opening option.
Maintenance Fewer moving parts, less maintenance. Requires maintenance on more components.
Accessibility Easier to operate with one moving sash. More flexible with two operable sashes.
Installation Simpler and often quicker to install. More complex installation due to extra sash.
Aesthetic Options More limited customizations available. Wide range of style options and customizations.
Best Used For Ideal for lower floors and smaller areas. Suitable for any location, especially upper floors.

Comparing Features

Window Ventilation & Air Circulation

Both single hung and double hung windows can enhance the air circulation in your home. Single hung windows allow air infiltration through the lower sash, which can be opened to let in cooler air. In contrast, double hung windows provide better ventilation by enabling you to open both the upper and lower sashes. Opening the upper sash allows hot air that rises to the ceiling to escape, while opening the lower sash brings in fresh air, creating effective air flow throughout the room.

Window Cleaning & Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, double hung windows have a significant advantage due to their two operable sashes. These windows often come with tilt latches that allow the sashes to tilt inward, facilitating easy cleaning of both the inside and outside glass from within the house. This feature is particularly useful for windows on upper floors. Single hung windows, with their fixed sash, require more effort to clean the exterior, especially if they are not on the ground floor.

Window Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a crucial factor in window selection. Both window types can be designed with energy efficient technologies like low-E coatings and insulated glass. However, double hung windows might sometimes have slightly higher air infiltration rates due to having two movable sashes, although modern advancements have greatly minimized these differences.

Energy Efficiency Details

To maximize energy efficiency, look for windows that include options such as argon gas fills and thermal breaks. These features help reduce the transfer of heat and cold air through the window, leading to lower utility bills and a more comfortable indoor environment.

Safety Features

Double hung windows are often considered safer for homes with children since both sashes can be locked, and the ability to open just the upper sash minimizes the risk of falls from open lower sashes. Additionally, many modern windows come equipped with locks and security sensors that enhance their overall safety.

Accessibility Considerations

For accessibility, single hung windows can be easier to operate for those with limited mobility, as they only require moving one sash. This can be advantageous in situations where reaching a high upper sash may be difficult. However, the easy-to-operate tilt feature in double hung windows also improves accessibility for cleaning and maintenance.

Pros & Cons

Single Hung Windows

  • Ideal for tall, narrow spaces where the lower sash is easily accessible.
  • Often recommended for apartment buildings, schools, and office buildings where cost and ease of window installation are priorities.

A great choice for ground floor applications due to their simplicity and lower price.

Double Hung Windows

  • Best suited for homes where ventilation is a priority, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
  • The ability to open both the top and bottom sashes helps control moisture and regulate indoor temperatures.

Perfect for upper floors where cleaning from the inside is necessary, making them practical for multi-story homes.

When You Might Want to Pick a Single-Hung Window

  • Select a single hung window if you are seeking a cost-effective solution with good energy efficiency.
  • Ideal for openings that are tall and narrow where the fixed upper sash would not significantly limit ventilation.

Simpler in design and operation, making them easy to maintain—a key advantage in settings where frequent window operation is not required.

When You Might Want to Pick a Double-Hung Window

  • Double hung windows are excellent if you need increased ventilation and easy cleaning.
  • Their versatility in opening from either the top or bottom makes them suitable for almost every room, even as a great idea for sunroom windows.
  • Particularly beneficial in family homes where safety and cleanliness are critical.

Choose double hung for flexibility in airflow and easier access to both sashes for cleaning and maintenance.

Can You Put a Single-Hung and Double-Hung Window in the Same Space?

Yes, it is entirely possible to install single hung and double hung windows within the same space or building. This can be beneficial when trying to balance budget constraints with specific functional needs across different areas of a home or commercial property. For example, single hung windows could be used in less frequented areas to reduce costs, while double hung windows could be installed in common areas for better air circulation and convenience. Mixing window types can provide a tailored approach to both aesthetics and functionality, meeting the diverse needs of a structure.


The aesthetic of your windows plays a significant role in the overall look and feel of your home. Single hung windows maintain a classic look with their fixed upper sash and movable lower sash, creating a uniform appearance that complements traditional home styles. Double hung windows, with two movable sashes, offer a slightly different visual appeal due to the symmetry and balance they provide. This can enhance both contemporary and classic architectures by adding a subtle, refined touch.

Style Options

When considering style options, double hung windows are generally available in a wider variety of custom sizes and designs, including different patterns of grilles and muntin bars that can match any architectural style from colonial to modern. They can also be ordered with additional features like between-the-glass blinds or shades. Single hung windows, while more limited in variety, often come at a lower price and can be just as aesthetically pleasing if chosen carefully to match your home’s style. Both types can be crafted from a range of materials such as wood, fiberglass windows, or vinyl, each adding its own unique aesthetic touch and energy efficient benefits.

In both cases, selecting the right window frames and finishes can significantly influence your home’s curb appeal, making it vital to consider how the windows will complement your home’s existing or planned exterior features. Whether you opt for single or double hung windows, each offers distinct advantages that can enhance both the beauty and functionality of your living spaces.

Cost Comparison

Window Costs

The cost difference between single hung and double hung windows can be significant, depending on the materials and features chosen. Typically, single hung windows are more cost-effective because they have fewer moving parts and require less material and labor to manufacture. These windows are a practical choice for those looking to maintain a budget without sacrificing quality and performance.

What Is the Cost You Can Expect of Single-Hung Windows?

For single hung windows, prices can vary widely based on size, material, and glass options. Generally, homeowners might expect to pay from a few hundred to several hundred dollars per window unit. Additional features like energy efficient glass or custom sizes can increase the cost, but they also contribute to long-term savings on energy bills.

Compare Costs for Double-Hung Windows

Double hung windows, which feature two movable sashes, tend to be more expensive than single hung due to the increased complexity of their design. The ability to open both sashes for better ventilation and easy cleaning often justifies the higher price for many homeowners. Similar to single hung windows, the price for double hung units can increase with options like enhanced energy efficiency, specialty glass, or additional features.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

Considering the installation of windows, whether to choose DIY or professional installation can greatly affect your overall costs and the success of the project. While DIY installation might seem like a cost-saving option, it is essential for those with the necessary skills and tools. Incorrect installation can lead to problems like drafts, leaks, and even voided warranties. Professional installation, though more costly upfront, ensures that your windows are installed correctly, which maximizes their performance and durability. Additionally, professionals can provide valuable advice on maintaining energy efficiency and minimizing air infiltration, which can save money in the long run.

Our Recommendation

When choosing the right windows for your home, the decision between single hung and double hung windows should be guided by your specific needs and preferences. At Lake Washington Windows and Doors, we offer personalized recommendations to match the unique style and requirements of your home.

For those seeking a reliable and economical option, single hung windows are an excellent choice. They are less complex, which generally makes them more cost-effective and reduces potential for maintenance. This makes them a solid option for first floors and areas where simple functionality is key.

On the other hand, double hung windows are ideal for homeowners looking for increased ventilation and easier maintenance. With both the top and bottom sashes operable, they allow for better airflow and are easier to clean from the inside—perfect for homes with multiple stories or families with children.

We understand that each home is unique, and choosing the right window can greatly enhance both the functionality and appeal of your home. That’s why we’re proud to be a ProVia Platinum Dealer, offering high-quality windows with a range of custom sizes and features. Additionally, our exclusive Leak Armor Guarantee provides an extra layer of protection, ensuring that your investment in new windows is safeguarded against water leakage.


In summary, the choice between single hung and double hung windows depends on your specific needs for ventilation, ease of maintenance, and budget considerations. Single hung windows are cost-efficient and offer a simple, classic look, making them a practical choice for many homeowners. Double hung windows, however, provide the added benefits of increased ventilation and ease of cleaning, especially useful in multi-story homes.

At Lake Washington Windows and Doors, we understand that selecting the right windows is essential for the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. As a ProVia Platinum Dealer, we offer only the highest quality windows with advanced features that meet a variety of homeowner needs. Our exclusive Leak Armor Guarantee further protects your investment, ensuring long-term satisfaction and peace of mind.

For personalized advice and a detailed consultation on how our window solutions can enhance the beauty and functionality of your home, please contact us at Lake Washington Windows and Doors. We look forward to assisting you in choosing the perfect windows that not only meet your needs but also exceed your expectations.


What Is the Main Difference Between Single Hung and Double Hung Windows?

The main difference lies in their operation. A single hung window has only one sash that moves (the lower one), while the upper window sash is fixed. In contrast, a double hung window offers the flexibility of having two sashes that can both be opened and closed. This allows for extra ventilation, as warm air can escape from the top sash and cool air can enter through the lower.

How Does the Price Difference Between Single Hung and Double Hung Windows Affect My Choice?

The price difference between these two window types can be significant. Single hung windows are generally less expensive because they have simpler mechanisms. However, double hung windows provide greater ventilation and easier cleaning, which might justify the higher cost depending on your specific needs, especially in multi-story homes.

Can I Install Soundproof Windows in Either the Single Hung or Double Hung Style?

Yes, soundproof windows can be installed in both single hung and double hung styles. These windows generally have special insulation features that help reduce noise, and they can be a great option for homes on lower floors or near busy streets.

What Are Some of The Advantages of Choosing Double Hung Windows for My First Floor?

Installing double hung windows on your first floor offers several benefits. These include improved air quality due to the ability of two sashes to move, which enhances the natural ventilation by allowing warm air to escape from the top and fresh air to enter from the bottom. They also provide ease of cleaning from inside the house and can be more secure, as you can leave the top window slightly open for air without compromising security.

Are There Any Specific Window Styles that Are Better Suited for Replacing Windows in An Old House?

When replacing windows in an old house, choosing a window style that complements the architectural style is crucial. Casement windows and picture windows are popular choices for maintaining the aesthetic integrity of historic homes. However, double hung windows are also appropriate as they mimic the traditional appearance with modern functionality.

Is There a Type of Window that Serves as A Natural Insulator Better than Others?

Both single and double hung windows can be equipped with energy-efficient features, but casement windows are often considered a natural insulator due to their tight seal when closed. For single and double hung windows, choosing models with energy-efficient glass and proper sealing can significantly enhance their insulating properties.

Can Single or Double Hung Windows Be Installed with Only One or Two Windows per Room?

Yes, you can install one or two windows per room, depending on your needs for light and ventilation. Both single hung and double hung windows are versatile enough to fit various room sizes and designs, allowing you to tailor the window configuration to your home’s layout and your personal preferences.

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Written by Lake Washington Windows

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