Single Hung vs Double Hung Windows

Here’s a little bit of terminology that is often misunderstood.  What are the differences between single hung vs double hung windows?  Here we’ll take a look at the basic definition and we’ll look at some of the other advantages and disadvantages including the cost, the operation, the screens, how they function and the typical price.

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First things first!  The basic definition:

Both single hung and double hung windows open up and down.  The difference is that in a single hung window the bottom sash opens up and down, but the top does not move.

In a double hung window the bottom sash slides up and down AND the top sash also opens and closes.

Perhaps this picture will help:

single hung vs double hung windows
Here is the difference between a single hung and a double hung window.

So there it is, the difference is in how the window operates.  People often confuse double hung with double pane.  For the difference between double pane and triple pane windows check this out.

Ok, so how important is this difference?

Well, that’s really up to you.  One important thing to keep in mind is that a single hung window does not allow the top sash to tilt in for easy cleaning.  That means the bottom will tilt in, but the top will not.  Is that a big deal?  Only you can decide.

Beyond that many people don’t open the top very often so the difference is not important to them.  We open the top quite a bit in my house as the window dog is a redbone coonhound from the hills of West Virginia and he would go straight through a screen if he saw a varmint in the yard.  For us it is very important that the top opens, but you may have different priorities.

What is the price difference between single hung vs double hung windows?

This is a question we get asked a lot.  The difference typically isn’t huge, but it can add up.  The two windows are essentially the same with the single hung having less hardware.  The cost difference between the two will depend on the manufacturer, but it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a price difference of $20-$40 per window.

If you have 20 windows in your house that amount can add up.  We’ll often suggest switching to single hung windows as a way to save a few bucks, but it really just depends on how you plan on using them.

We hope that helps, for more detailed info on the greatest replacement windows check out these reviews.  If there is anything you’re looking for that you can’t find just post a comment or send us an email.  We read every single one and we do our best to respond!


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11 thoughts on “Single Hung vs Double Hung Windows”

  1. We had replacement windows installed by Window World.
    They were expensive, so we expected them to be very
    good quality. The install went ok…….we paid the over $4,000.
    price, …..and then, found the windows to be sub-standard
    quality. Had to call several times to get them repaired. they are double-hung windows, and the top sash would drop just a little, and that prevented the windows from locking because the latches did not meet up right. Had the repairmen out a couple of times. Was assured they were fixed, but still would have problems with them. Spring latches on the screens missing, and problems with the latches preventing locking. With spring coming on, we’ll have to call them back again. My estimation of the windows from Window World is that they are too expensive for the quality .

    1. Having the same problem with top sash (different manufacturer). Were you able to tighten or firm up the top sash somehow to prevent the slipping, yet maintain the “benefit” of having double hung windows?

  2. Thank you for explaining how double windows work and how they can open up or down. I can see that making sure you understand this and plan ahead can help you make sure you get the best system for your structure. It is important to remember to do your homework and consult with several professionals and stopped in order to get the best quality for the best prices.

  3. The salesman from American Windows is discouraging us from buying double hung windows due to the probability they will be hard to close when the top “slips” a big, requiring holding up the top half while locking them. Your opinion about this is….?

    1. That may say something about the windows he’s offering, but it doesn’t say anything about double hung windows in general. For remodeling projects double hung windows are significantly more popular than single hung. I have seen a balance mechanism fail and allow the top sash to slip down, but I’ve been around for a while now and I’ve seen lots of things fail. I wouldn’t hesitate to order double hung windows in general. If he thinks the model he’s offering won’t stay shut I’d probably look for another model.

    2. I’d listen to him. I had replacement windows installed, and the one window I opened all the time slipped at the top. I could never close it properly, because it was always just barely lower than the lock could engage, often forcing the window open, rather than closed. I eventually had to use a stick in the slot, to hold the top half up, because it was over my sink, and I couldn’t get close enough to reach it, to hold it up with one hand, while engaging the lock with the other. THAT stinks! ON a brand new window – and given the option, I will always go with a single hung window. I don’t even care if it saves me money, or not, I HATE that slippage.

      My windows were in NH, where you can open the windows often, and it’s nice to be able to do so. Now I live in FL, where it’s even less of an option to open them, so why introduce another option for failure, when I don’t have to? Most of my NH windows were small enough to open by an old woman. My FL windows are so big I can barely open the blinds, much less the windows. I certainly don’t want to have to wrestle the top half, while trying to lock the bottom. Bear your age, and strength in mind, as you decide, then ask yourself how often you actually ever open that top half. I went for it in NH due to the second story windows, and the ability to tilt in for cleaning. Here in FL, I can reach the top of all my windows standing on the ground, so no need for that tilt feature. I can wash them outside, with a bucket and squeegee, and it’s a lot easier than cleaning tilt in windows, which always try to fall out when you tilt them in, and there’s nothing supporting them but you, so cleaning them is actually pretty hard.

      Your call, but I’m actively looking for replacement windows just now, and I fully intend to get Single hung, if at all possible.

  4. Cool article about single and double hung windows. I didn’t know that double hung window should allow the top to be moved down, which you’ve used for your dog. I’m interested to learn of other situations where it could be good to have double hung windows, especially if it could protect those inside and outside the home.

  5. Thank you for explaining some of the differences between single and double hung windows. My friend was telling me that she’s getting a few installed in her house and I was confused how they differed from most windows. It’s definitely something I can see as a good addition in her home.

  6. being in the tech industry, I always consider lesser moving parts to be more reliable. The simpler the better!
    Hence I would chose single hung windows for my replacement windows. Somehow there are way lesser options for single hung..

    1. Yes, there are fewer models available in single hung especially at the nicer end of the market. Generally speaking, people really want both sashes to tilt in to clean from inside the house and so most windows are double hung. I don’t think you’re really very likely to see issues with the balances on the top sash of the window. Anything could fail, but I don’t think that’s a huge risk in selecting a double hung over a single hung window.

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