Double Hung vs Single Hung Windows – Which to Choose

Posted by Marcos Bicalho

in Windows

Double Hung vs Single Hung Windows - Which to Choose

Windows play an important role in your house. They provide wonderful views, fresh air and sunlight to improve your mood. If you start to notice some issues with your windows, you may need to plan a window replacement project in the near future. The challenge is what style should you choose for your home? There are many styles of windows, but double hung or single hung windows are a common replacement option for traditional New England homes. Although both have a lot in common, we compare double hung vs single hung windows and give you the pros and cons of each.

What are single hung windows

A single hung window is a common window type where the bottom panel, or sash, can move up and down while the upper sash remains stationary. When these windows are opened, the bottom sash obstructs, completely or partially, the upper sash. Single-hung windows are the most common choice in newer home construction, apartment buildings, and office spaces.

Pros of single hung windows

  • Cost. Single hung windows are often more affordable than double hung windows because they have fewer moving parts and lighter frames. Most single-hung windows cost $150 to $400 each. This cost difference might not seem large enough when your project includes just a few windows. If you need to replace all the windows in your home, the $50 to $200 per window difference may make a difference based on your budget.
  • Easy operation. With only one operable sash, single hung windows are simple to operate. The lower sash typically slides vertically, making it easy to open and close the window as needed.
  • Energy efficiency. When properly installed and sealed, single hung windows can provide good insulation. This helps to keep indoor temperatures stable and reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Low maintenance. Because single hung windows have fewer moving parts than other window types, they generally require less maintenance over time. This can save homeowners time and money on upkeep and repairs.
  • Classic appearance. Single hung windows have a traditional, timeless look that can complement a wide range of architectural styles. They are versatile enough to suit both modern and traditional homes and buildings.
  • Space-saving design. Since single hung windows open vertically rather than swinging outward, they can be a good choice for rooms where space is limited, such as small bedrooms or bathrooms.

Cons of single hung windows

  • Limited ventilation. Because only the bottom sash of a single hung window opens, ventilation options are limited. This can restrict airflow and ventilation in some situations, particularly if you want to maximize fresh air circulation.
  • Difficult to clean. Cleaning the exterior of single hung windows can be challenging since only the bottom sash can be tilted inward for cleaning. This can make it difficult to reach and clean the exterior surface of the upper sash.
  • Reduced accessibility. In emergency situations, such as fires, having only one operable sash can limit escape options. This can be a safety concern in some situations, particularly for upper-floor windows.
  • Design limitations. Single hung windows have a more traditional appearance compared to some other window styles. This may not suit all architectural styles or design preferences. If you’re looking for a more contemporary or customizable window design, other options may be more suitable.
  • Potential for air leakage. Single hung windows have fewer sealing points compared to double hung or casement windows. This can increase the risk of air leakage and drafts over time or if they are not properly installed or maintained.

What are double hung windows

A double hung window features two sashes, or movable panels, that can both be operated independently. Both the upper and lower sashes can be moved up and down within the window frame, allowing for greater flexibility in ventilation and cleaning. This design enables you to open the window from either the top or bottom, providing more options for airflow and access compared to single hung windows.

Pros of double hung windows

  • Ease of Cleaning. Double hung windows typically feature a tilt-in sash design. This allows you to tilt both sashes inward for easy cleaning of the exterior glass surfaces from inside your home. This makes maintenance and cleaning more convenient (and safer), especially for upper-floor windows.
  • Superior Ventilation. Double hung windows provide greater control over airflow and ventilation compared to single hung windows. You can open both sashes simultaneously or adjust them independently to customize airflow according to your preferences.
  • Energy Efficiency. When properly installed and sealed, double hung windows can provide excellent insulation. This helps improve energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. You can also choose energy-efficient glazing options, such as low-emissivity (Low-E) glass, to further enhance thermal performance.
  • Enhanced safety. Double hung windows offer improved safety features compared to single hung windows. You can open the upper sash to allow for ventilation while keeping the lower sash closed. This reduces the risk of accidents, such as falls, especially in homes with young children or pets.
  • Versatility in operation. Being able to open both the top and bottom sashes provides greater versatility in how you use and control your windows. Whether you want to maximize ventilation, access natural light, or simply enjoy different viewing angles, double hung windows offer flexibility to suit your preferences.
  • Timeless design. Double hung windows have a classic, timeless appearance that complements various architectural styles and interior designs. Whether your home is traditional or modern, double hung windows can add aesthetic appeal and curb appeal to your property.

Cons of double hung windows

  • Complexity of design. The mechanism that allows both sashes to move independently can make double hung windows more complex in design compared to single hung windows. This complexity can lead to a higher initial cost for the windows and potentially more maintenance and repairs over time.
  • Potential for air leakage. Double hung windows have multiple moving parts and sealing points, which can increase the risk of air leakage and drafts, particularly if they are not properly installed or maintained. Ensuring a tight seal between the sashes and the window frame is essential for maximizing energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Limited opening size. While double hung windows provide flexibility in opening both the top and bottom sashes, the size of the opening may be limited by the height of the lower sash. This can restrict the extent of ventilation compared to other window types, such as casement windows, which open fully outward.
  • Higher risk of malfunction. With more moving parts than single hung windows, double hung windows may have a higher risk of mechanical issues or malfunctions over time. Components such as balances, tracks, and springs may wear out or become damaged, requiring maintenance or repairs to ensure smooth operation.
  • Reduced structural integrity. Double hung windows typically have narrower window frames compared to single hung windows to accommodate the movement of both sashes. While this design allows for greater flexibility in ventilation and cleaning, it may result in reduced structural integrity and durability, particularly in regions with harsh weather conditions.

Final thoughts

To recap, double hung and single hung windows offer unique advantages and considerations.

  • Double hung windows excel in providing enhanced ventilation, ease of cleaning, and improved safety features. This makes them a versatile and popular choice for many homeowners.
  • Single hung windows offer cost-effectiveness, simplicity, and timeless design. This appeals to those seeking a budget-friendly and traditional window option.

When making your decision between double hung vs single hung windows, review the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Then take into account your individual preferences, priorities and specific requirements for airflow, maintenance, safety and aesthetics. Then you can make an informed choice that best suits your needs and enhances the comfort and functionality of your living spaces.

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