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

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Author Image Written by Jessica Wimmer Updated 06/06/2024

Single- and double-hung windows are two popular window types. The best window brands carry both varieties, so your choice depends on the desired function and personal preference. In this article, we’ll cover the differences between single- and double-hung windows to help you decide which to select and share our recommendations for professional window installers.


What’s the Difference Between Single-Hung and Double-Hung Windows?

The difference between single-hung and double-hung windows is how many operable sashes they have. A window sash is the enclosed glass pane inside the window frame. Only one sash moves in a single-hung window, whereas both move in a double-hung window. This short video shows the difference between the two and how they work.

What Is a Single-Hung Window?

Single-hung windows, also known as single-sash windows, feature an upper, fixed sash and a lower, movable sash. The bottom sash can be unlocked and lifted to allow in air. Single-hung windows are the most common type of window for homes. We’ve listed the benefits and drawbacks to selecting single-hung windows below:

Single-Hung Window Pros and Cons

Are more affordable than double-hung windows
Are more energy-efficient since there are fewer opportunities for air penetration
Aren’t available in sizes as large as double-hung
Are harder to clean when on upper floors

What Is a Double-Hung Window?

Double-hung windows, or double-sash windows, have two movable sashes. The top sash can be lowered, and the bottom sash can be lifted. You can also move both sashes at once. Since heat rises, you can lower the top sash to let hot air escape and lift the bottom sash to let in cooler air. There are several pros and cons to double-hung windows, including:

Double-Hung Window Pros and Cons

Are better for increased ventilation
Are easier to clean due to tilt-latches on both sashes that allow you to angle them inward
Are more expensive to buy and install
Are harder to close properly, making them less secure

Compare Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Windows

See what makes these two window types different in the chart below:

FactorSingle-HungDouble-Hung

Average cost

$100–$400

$150–$650

Energy efficiency

More efficient due to fewer moving parts

Less efficient due to increased air infiltration

Installation

Can be installed as new or replacement windows

Can be installed as new or replacement windows

Maintenance

Fixed sash makes it harder to clean above first floor

Tilted sashes makes cleaning from inside the home easier

Operation

Fixed top sash, movable bottom sash

Two movable sashes

Sizes available

Available in standard and custom sizes

Available in standard and custom sizes


Cost of Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Windows

Single-hung windows make a less expensive window replacement than double-hung windows because they have fewer parts. We looked at top home improvement retailers and found that single-hung windows typically cost $150–$400. Most double-hung windows start closer to $250 and can go as high as $800, but typically cap out around $400. Materials greatly affect the cost—wooden options are usually more expensive, vinyl is the most affordable, and fiberglass is often in the middle.

*Costs in this article sourced from contractor estimates used by Angi


Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Window Maintenance

Double-hung windows may seem like they require more work because of the extra moving parts, but the opposite is true. Since both sashes on double-hung windows tilt, you can easily clean both their interior and exterior. You simply raise or lower each sash and pull it inward to tilt it toward you to spray and wipe the exterior.

Cleaning the exterior of a single-hung window isn’t as easy. If it’s on your ground floor and low enough to safely reach, you may be able to comfortably clean first-floor single-hung windows. Those on second stories and higher require hoses and extension tools.

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DIY vs. Professional Installation

We recommend getting professional window installation. Hiring a pro reduces the risk of damage and ensures your windows are installed securely and with optimal energy efficiency. You may be able to tackle installing one or two windows if you’re handy around the house or have some window experience, but installing several windows or windows with a complex design is better left to the pros. Here’s why:

  • Safety: Installing windows on the second floor or higher can be a dangerous job, both for you and the window. You don’t want either falling to the ground.
  • Tools: Window installation requires tools such as caulking guns, shims, power drills, pry bars, and more. Unless you have those, it may be cheaper to hire an expert who already has them than to buy them yourself.
  • Property damage: If you attempt to install a window and break something, you’re responsible for the cost. If a licensed and insured contractor breaks something, they’ll have to cover the expense.  
QUICK Tip
We recommend getting windows installed by reputable companies such as Champion, Renewal by Andersen, and Power Home, which all have a strong industry reputation, quality products, and good customer service. Always do your research into even the best-rated window replacement companies, read customer reviews, and get a free quote before committing.

Our Conclusion

Single- and double-hung windows are both popular window styles among homeowners. They’re both reasonably energy-efficient and allow in fresh air.

Single-hung windows are more affordable, so you may want to consider them if cost is your priority. Single-hung windows also offer better security on first floors. Double-hung are safer for small children, since you can open only the upper sash for ventilation while keeping the lower sash closed to prevent falling. They also provide better ventilation and are easier to clean on upper levels because they tilt in.


FAQ About Single-Hung vs. Double-Hung Windows

What is better: a single or double-hung window?

Single-hung windows are more energy-efficient and affordable. Double-hung windows are slightly more expensive but have more versatility, are easier to clean, and are safer for small children. 

Why use single-hung windows?

Use single-hung windows if you want to keep window costs low and increased ventilation isn’t a priority for you.

What is the point of double-hung windows?

The point of double-hung windows is to have two movable window sashes that can open to provide airflow. You can open one or the other or move both at the same time. Double-hung windows also have more design versatility and are easier to clean because they tilt inward.

Is it worth getting double-hung windows?

It’s worth getting double-hung windows if you prefer extra ventilation or have small children who could be endangered by an open lower sash.


Our Rating Methodology

We back up our window ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each provider. We conduct research by speaking with company representatives, browsing product selections, analyzing window line specifications, and conducting focus groups and consumer surveys. We then score each provider against our review standards for window variety, value, trustworthiness and transparency, window features, and customer service to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale. 

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