What Is the Difference Between a Single & Double Hung Window?

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2021

Single and double-hung windows are known for their classic appearance and may look similar at a glance, but both offer significant differences when it comes to cost, energy efficiency and maintenance.

On This Page:

  1. Single vs. Double-Hung Windows
    1. Styles
    2. Costs of Materials
    3. Cheapest to Install
    4. DIY Installation & Replacement
    5. Airflow
    6. Energy Efficiency
    7. Weather Resistance & Safety
    8. Cleaning & Maintenance
  2. Which is Best for Specific Home Windows?
  3. Versus Casement & Sliding Windows

What is a Double-Hung Window?

A double-hung window has two stacked, moveable sashes (the part of the window that holds the pane). This allows the window to slide down from the top and up from the bottom meaning both sashes can open at the same time. Most models have the capability for both the top and bottom sashes to tilt in and out, offering versatility.

What is a Single-Hung Sash Window?

A single-hung window has one fixed sash on the top and one moveable sash on the bottom. This allows it to slide up from the bottom, partially covering the top sash. They typically do not have the capability to tilt in and out.

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Single versus Double-Hung Windows

Selecting the best type will depend on your home. Be sure to speak with a local window pro who is knowledgeable about which styles and materials hold up best in your climate.

Single-hung is best for… Double-hung is best for…
Affordable materials Those seeking a wider variety of styles, color and frame materials.
Affordable installation Ease of cleaning
Homeowners who desire unique fixed sash options Ventilation for rooms with lots of moisture
Energy efficiency with airtight fixed sash Energy efficiency with maximum naturally cooling airflow capability
Durability with fewer moveable parts Safety for small children and pets
Resistance to water and air infiltration Security of heavy double-locked units

See how these two types of iconic windows compare before selecting the best window for your home.

Versatility of Styles

Single Hung Double Hung
  • Can provide a more authentic look in historic homes
  • Fixed (immoveable) sash can be any size or shape, like a picture window
  • Can hold multiple panes of glass per sash (2 over 2, 6 over 6 etc.)
  • Many manufacturers offer a wider variety of materials, trim and colors
  • Operable (moveable) sashes do not allow for custom sizes or shapes
  • Can hold multiple panes of glass per sash
Widest style versatility: Double-hung

Cost and Materials

Both types work well with vinyl, aluminum or wood frames, though double hung require the highest quality of these framing materials to ensure proper mobility and seal over time.

  • These are less expensive, running from $150 to $400 per window, as they require fewer moveable parts.
  • Because the fixed sash undergoes less wear and tear, you do not have to spend top dollar for optimal frame materials.

  • More expensive at $400 to $600 per window because they come in a wider variety of styles and framing options and have more moveable parts.
  • Requires the highest quality frame structure to keep the seal of the top sash from breaking down over time due to gravity’s pull.

The winner for cheapest cost and materials: Single-hung

Cheapest to Install

It requires accuracy and expertise to fit windows properly, so hiring a quality pro is key for installation. Window installation costs will vary by how many you plan to install, their size and which frame materials you choose.

  • Less expensive at $75 to $100 per window as it is easier and faster to fit in the pieces with fewer moving parts.

  • More expensive at $150 to $250 per window because of precision measurements taken to fit these windows with more moveable parts to ensure a proper seal and mobility.

Cheapest to Install: Single-hung

DIY Installation & Replacement

The cost of replacing your windows can pay off by saving money in energy bills and increasing the value of your home. Remember that costs will vary based on factors like existing frame structure, number, size, and quality of the replacement unit.

  • Costs for replacement materials run between $300 and $800.
  • It’s not a good idea to replace these yourself as they are heavier, and the complexity of the moving parts mean more opportunities for costly mistakes.
Winner for DIY Installation and Replacement: Single-hung
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Which is best able to ventilate a space with natural airflow?


  • The fixed sash allows for a more airtight seal keeping out unwanted air infiltration.


  • Only the bottom sash opens, decreasing ventilation and versatility.


  • The ability to open the top and bottom sash simultaneously allows for warm air to exit through the top as cool air enters through the bottom, maximizing ventilation.
  • This can be especially beneficial in rooms that retain moisture, such as bathrooms.


  • If installed without quality materials and accuracy, the seal and moveable parts can break down over time, decreasing functionality.

Best airflow design: Double-hung

Energy Efficiency

Choosing double-paned windows and prioritizing U Factor ratings for both styles will increase energy efficiency, but which type will make maximize it?


  • Offers both an airtight seal on the top and ventilation on the bottom.


  • Limited ventilation means you may still have to spend more in cooling your home over time, depending on your climate.


  • If installed properly, the ability for maximum natural ventilation could save energy in cooling your home over time.


  • The moving parts increase the possibility for a poor seal if the frame materials aren’t the highest quality or maintained properly.
  • This could factor into air infiltration and higher energy costs over time.

Most energy efficient: Tie!

Weather Resistance & Safety

Which type is safest and most durable?


  • The fewer moveable parts of the fixed sash increase resistance to water leakage and air infiltration as the frame suffers less use.


  • Because these only open from the bottom, the risk for pets and children, particularly on upper levels, is higher.


  • These have two locks, one for each sash, and require a stronger heavier frame on which to slide and tilt, increasing safety.
  • The ability to open from the top while keeping the bottom closed decreases the risk of danger for small children or pets on upper levels.


  • These require more upkeep to maintain a secure window as gravity pulls down on the upper sash and the increased mobility means more wear and tear on the frame and seals.

Best bet for weather resistance and safety: Tie!

Cleaning & Maintenance


  • Fixed sashes have few moveable parts, increasing their long-term stability.


  • Cleaning the outside of these windows is best from the outside since they only slide up from the bottom and have no tilt-in capability.
  • Spending a little extra to hire a window washing service is safest for cleaning upper level windows.
  • When dealing with a broken frame, it’s best to call in a pro. Even if only one sash broke, expect to replace both at the same time.


  • These are very easy to clean. They not only raise and lower to expose tough-to-reach spots but can also tilt inward making them the simplest type to clean from indoors.
  • This is an especially valuable function for upper level windows.
  • Being able to inspect each part during cleaning also increases the probability of spotting areas in need of repair and quickly fix the window before it becomes damaged.


  • More moveable parts mean more opportunities for breakdown and the possibility for more maintenance costs.

The easiest to keep clean and maintain over time: Double-hung
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Which is Best?

Which is Best for Egress Windows

Neither single nor double-hung models are best for egress windows because codes require openings to be big enough for a person to fit through. Casement windows make ideal egress windows.

Which is Best for Kitchen or Bathroom Windows?

The natural ventilation of double-hung makes them the better choice for kitchens and bathrooms, as both rooms require excellent ventilation due to increased moisture levels and odors.

Which is Best for a Window AC Unit?

Both single and double-hung work well with a window AC unit. Do keep in mind that the more moveable parts of the double-hung model can break down with wear. Installing an AC unit requires precision and care to ensure safety and proper insulation.

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Single & Double Hung vs. Casement & Sliding Windows

siding window and casement window

See how these models measure up to other popular window styles.

Type Pros Cons
Single Hung
  • Airtight seal on top
  • Versatility and airflow on bottom
  • Inexpensive to purchase and install
  • Difficult to clean
  • Limited options for styles and materials
  • Limited ventilation
Double Hung
  • Excellent natural ventilation
  • Many styles and materials
  • Easy to clean
  • Expensive to purchase and install
  • Moving parts may break down over time
  • Maximum air ventilation, light and opening capacity
  • Ideal for hard-to-reach spaces and egress windows
  • Crank handle can distort and loosen
  • Consider the space it will take when open
  • Can be simple to clean
  • Good option for openings that are wider than they are high
  • Flexible seal results in lower energy efficiency
  • Many designs require one sash to overlap the other when open
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