Choose Your Style: Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Windows

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Single hung vs double hung windows

When you are ready to start replacing home windows, there are a few factors to take into consideration: price, style and energy efficiency. But before comparing features, styles and installation requirements, you should understand the most frequent types of windows available for replacement.

Two of the most common window frame types are single-hung and double-hung. While these two traditionally popular styles present many similarities, understanding how they are different can go a long way toward helping you determine which one is a good solution for your house.

The Difference Between Single-Hung and Double-Hung Windows

Single hung window exterior

A single-hung window is different from a single-pane window. “Hung” is a term that refers to the number of operable sashes, while “pane” describes the number of panes of glass in the window.

Both single-hung and double-hung windows have two sashes — an upper and lower sash — which separates the window both physically and visually. A similar structure means they share many of the same design options, providing a timeless look for homes new and old. From a distance, the two window styles can look exactly the same.

The major difference lies in the upper sash. It’s stationary on single-hung windows whereas it is an operable sash on double-hung windows. That one change leads to a number of differences in the functionality and performance of each style.

Single-Hung Windows Double-Hung Windows
# of Operable Sashes 1 2
Ease of Operation Yes Yes
Ventilation Bottom sash can open to let air in. Both sashes can open to let cool, fresh air in through the bottom and release warm air through the top.
Cleaning Difficult to clean the exterior of the top sash since it does not tilt in. Tougher to clean for those living on an upper floor. Easier to clean since both windows can be tilted to wash inside and outside surfaces. Both sashes can be cleaned from the inside of the house.
Cost

Choosing a Single-Hung Window

Single hung window interior

An enduring style, single-hung windows have been the standard window choice used in newer home builds, apartment buildings and business spaces. Single-hung windows are both a cost-effective choice for a replacement window and an option that continues to be appealing in homes all over the country.

Since the upper sash is immovable on single-hung windows, installing a single-hung window can also make construction work more convenient, since there are fewer moving parts.

Single-hung windows are a great selection for homeowners who are looking for:

Choosing a Double-Hung Window

Cleaning double hung windows vs single hung windows

The adjustable second sash on a double-hung window creates more flexibility for rooms.

Tilt-in design allows cleaning the outside of double-hung windows from inside the house. When operating single-hung windows, the lower sash usually moves only vertically, blocking the upper sash. This can make it difficult to clean the glass on single-hung windows. In some cases, that difficulty can become precarious when cleaning the outside of the upper sash from inside.

Being able to reach the outside of windows at ground level is one thing, but cleaning an upper-level window can be an entirely different scenario. While a handful of single-hung windows have a tilt-in or removable lower sash, the adjustable second sash on double-hung windows provides much more convenient cleaning, especially for windows on upper floors.

The option to open either or both sashes makes double-hung windows a smart choice for rooms needing increased ventilation. With hot, damp air in the bathroom, for example, less ventilation can create issues with humidity and moisture. Left unchecked, that lack of fresh air can mean increased odor issues and even mildew growth. Opening both sashes of a double-hung window can help cool off steamy, humid areas and keep moisture out of your walls.

Double-hung windows also offer a unique difference to single-hung windows when it comes to window maintenance. Since it’s immovable, repairing the upper sash on a single-hung window means a visit from a glass repairman. However, since many double-hung windows include a removable upper sash, homeowners can swap out their window sash without a service call for a glass repair job.

For these reasons, double-hung windows are a strong choice for homes that:

  • A second story – You can more easily clean and maintain the exterior of double-hung windows.
  • Ventilation issuesDouble-hung windows are better at circulating air. Opening both sashes for ventilation can help cool hot, humid upstairs. In a bathroom, you can open or crack the upper sash to retain your privacy while helping to reduce moisture during a bath or shower.
  • A certain style of home – Many architectural styles used double-hung windows in their designs. If you have a Colonial, Cape Cod, Craftsman or Victorian house, you may want double-hung windows to help complement the look of your home’s era.

What's the Difference in Installation Costs?

A number of features and options are considered when determining the final cost of replacing your home's windows. Everything from the material and added features to your region of the country and style of window can influence your final costs.

Here are some of the elements that can determine just how much you spend on your window replacement:

  • Style
  • Material
  • Features and options
  • Number of windows needed
  • Installation
  • Warranty
  • Location of home

In the past, single-hung windows have been seen as more affordable due to their continual use in new home construction. However, the long-term benefits of installing double-hung windows should be considered.

While some features, such as reduced mildew levels from greater ventilation and architectural style can be valued over time, it’s difficult to put a price on the relief of flexible cleaning options and additional safety for children that come with double-hung windows.

While doing the job on your own may seem like a more cost-effective approach, consider talking with a Pella® professional to help choose the window that best meets your needs, design and budget. They’ll not only work to determine the right window but offer the proper know-how to get your new windows installed properly.

Single-hung and double-hung windows are both great choices, as evidenced by all the homes around the country that feature these window styles. The decision comes down to the unique needs of you and your home. Whichever window style you choose, you’ll have a timeless look that fits your home now and in the future.

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