Single Hung vs. Double Hung Windows

Monday, April 22, 2013 11:20:00 AM

In this post you will learn... 

  • Learn about the difference in window replacement costs. 
  • A side by side comparison of single-hung and double-hung windows.

At some point during home ownership you’ll likely take a look at your windows and consider replacing several or all of them. Older windows can result in a variety of problems and expenses. These include:

  • Allowing in cold and hot temperatures, thereby increasing energy expenses
  • Decreasing safety through broken locks, poor fits, and rotten frames
  • Letting moisture inside the home, increasing the risk of mold, mildew and water damage

In many cases, window replacement is not an inexpensive renovation. Remodeling Magazine’s Cost Versus Value 2013 lists window replacement as ranging from $9,000 on the low side to over $16,000 on the high end, while Consumer Reports suggests the cost could top a whopping $20,000. Therefore, it is imperative homeowners spend time researching options prior to deciding on the window – or windows – that will work best for their needs.

Why Such a Big Difference In Window Replacement Costs?

As with any home renovation project, the cost of replacing windows depends on a variety of factors, such as the:

  1. Condition of your current window frames
  2. Number of windows needed
  3. Special features (energy efficient, double paned)
  4. Single- or double-hung windows

While homeowners automatically consider options one through three when it comes to window replacement, option number four might not get as much attention as it should. Yet major differences exist between single and double hung windows, ranging from the amount of available ventilation to the ease and cost of maintenance and cleaning.

In this article we’ll look at these differences and compare the pros and cons of each type of window.

Side by Side





10-20% cheaper than double-hung

More expensive in initial costs

Maintenance Costs

Having only one sash can make maintenance cheaper should something break

Two panes; one or both may need to be repaired at some point


  • Difficult to clean both panes since one overlaps the other and neither tilts
  • Have to access each pane on the outside from the outside
  • Tougher to clean for those living on an upper floor
  • Easier to clean since both windows can be tilted to wash inside and outside surfaces
  • Both panes of glass can be cleaned from the inside of the house

Sash Features

  • Top sash stationary
  • Bottom sash moves
  • Sash doesn’t tilt
  • Both sashes move
  • Both sashes tilt


Less ventilation since only one sash opens and it only opens vertically

Better ventilation since both top and bottom sash can be opened and tilted as needed


Fewer design options than double-hung to keep costs lowers

More design options (such as wood grain, glass, colors)

Single-Hung Windows

single hungSingle-hung windows are often the standard window option used in newer home construction, apartment buildings and office spaces. In a single-hung window the bottom panel, or sash, moves vertically, while the upper sash remains stationary. When opened, the bottom sash obstructs, at least partially, the upper sash.   

Single-hung windows are a popular choice for one main reason: cost. They are cheaper than double-hung windows; in fact, according to Rick Jones of Stanek Windows by Great Day Improvements, LLC, single-hung windows can cost 10-20% less than their double-hung competitor.  While this may not seem like a great difference when replacing one or two windows, homeowners in need of a dozen windows will find the cost difference quickly adds up. Those on a tight budget might turn to single-hung windows to save on initial costs.

However, these windows have many limitations, and in the long run a double-hung window could save the homeowner money. Because only the lower sash opens in an up and down motion on a single-hung window, the window cannot be tilted to offer better ventilation, and the upper sash cannot be opened to increase air flow. In rooms that require more ventilation, such as the bathroom, this can result in higher moisture levels and little relief from humidity, mildew growth and odor control.

Additionally, single-hung windows make cleaning difficult, particularly for those with homes built off of the ground or on floors higher than ground level. Since the bottom pane of glass slides only up or down and does not tilt, homeowners can only clean the entire outside of the window by accessing it from the outside of the home. The window must be in a closed position. For many homeowners this requires hiring a window cleaning company multiple times per year for those difficult-to-reach windows.

Though the cost of the single-hung window is lower up front, the costs over time associated with ventilation and maintenance can run much higher than those for double-hung windows.

Double-Hung Windows

double hung windowsDouble-hung windows differ from single-hung in that they offer the homeowner the ability to open each window, rather than just the bottom sash. Plus, the sash can be opened at a tilt. This allows for better air flow and ventilation, since the sash can be angled according to the elements outside.

The ability to open and tilt each sash makes cleaning easier, too. Homeowners living off of the ground level are able to tilt the glass inward and clean each side of both panes of glass without needing special equipment or a professional cleaning company to do the chore for them.

Double-hung windows can offer homeowners added security. Many double-hung windows feature two locks, whereas single-hung windows feature just one. Double-hung windows also have a stronger frame and sash members because both sashes operate.

A Final Note on Cost

If you’re concerned about the cost difference, don’t forget that many utility companies offer rebates to homeowners who install energy efficient windows, which can greatly reduce the cost of your window replacement project. While double-hung may cost more up front, in the long run, the added features for security and maintenance could save you greatly.

For more information about your window replacement needs, contact Stanek Windows by Great Day Improvements at 1-800-230-8301 or schedule your free, in home consultation online.