How to Tell a Single-Hung Window From a Double-Hung

Single-hung and double-hung windows have pros and cons. Here’s how to know which is right for your home.

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Marvin windows and bath

Marvin windows and bath

Bathroom with built in tub surrounded by marble, open windows with window treatments.

One of the questions many homeowners ask is, what’s a single-hung window vs double-hung? We’ll not only answer that question, we’ll review the pros and cons of both types, as well as giving you tips on how to save money if you’re thinking of buying replacement windows.

Single-Hung Windows

In new homes, apartment buildings and office spaces, single-hung windows are often the standard. Single-hung windows get their name because the bottom sash, or panel, moves vertically, while the upper sash is fixed. When the window is open, the bottom sash partially obstructs the upper sash.  

Why do builders and homeowners like single-hung windows? One word: cost. They can be up to 20 percent less than double-hung competitors. This probably isn’t a big deal if you’re replacing one window. But a whole house adds up.

However, because single-hung windows have limitations, in the long run a double-hung window could cost less. Single-hung windows can’t be tilted to offer better ventilation and ease of cleaning, and you can’t increase airflow by opening the upper sash. In bathrooms, and other rooms that require good ventilation, this can increase moisture levels, potentially contributing to mildew growth and odor.

Single-hung windows are also more difficult to clean, especially for rooms on upper floors of a building. Many homeowners choose to hire a window cleaning company for those difficult-to-reach places.

Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are the most popular replacement windows in the country. In double-hung windows both sashes open and tilt, giving easy access to both panels. Not only does this increase circulation, it also makes them easier to clean and maintain.

Double-hung windows can also be more secure, offering homeowners two locks instead of one. And the frames are stronger because both sashes have to operate.

Between the two window types, double-hung windows offer more colors and styles than single-hung, widening your range of possibilities architecturally.

Ways to Save on Window Installation

If you’re upgrading to more energy-efficient windows, your purchase may qualify for incentives and rebates. Some states and local municipalities offer incentives in addition to federal rebates. You can find information on policies and incentives by state at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Window experts say it’s better to buy the best window you can afford, even if that means replacing the windows in stages. So even though double-hung windows cost more up front than single-hung, in the long run they may save you money.

Double-Hung Window Update 04:45

Host Paul Ryan installs a new double hung window.
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