Replacement Window Basics: Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung Windows

With so many types of window designs on today’s market, it’s only fair to wonder which type of replacement windows are best. While various types can be chosen for installation in offices, shops and living spaces, the two most common choices are double-hung and single-hung windows.

But what exactly is the difference between the two most widely adopted window types? Let’s find out.

The Difference Between Double-Hung and Single-Hung Windows

Single-hung windows are the kinds of windows you might see in many homes, office buildings and the vast majority of apartment complexes. The design of a single-hung window set consists of two sashes that are vertically stacked along parallel tracks. The above sash is fastened permanently into place along the outer track, while the lower sash is enabled for movement with sliders along the inner track.

When you wish to open a single-hung window, you simply lift the lower sash to any given height. Once elevated, the lower sash will stay suspended in front of the upper sash until you decide to close the window.

Double-hung windows are often seen in modern homes and office buildings as well as in some of the more recently built apartment and condominium complexes. The design of a double-hung window set is similar to its single-hung counterpart: a vertically stacked pair of sashes held into place along tracks.

To the naked eye, closed sets of single- and double-hung windows might look identical to one another. The difference between double-hung and single-hung windows is the way they open. Whereas only the bottom sash will open on a single-hung window, both sashes open on a double-hung window. Best of all, double-hung windows open at second and third points for a more complex set of air-circulation options. The bottom sash of the double-hung window can be elevated in the same manner as the single-hung, while both the lower and upper sash can be released at the top and tilted inward for dual air passage.

On warm days, or at times when the room gets stuffy, you can raise the lower sash an inch or two for light air circulation. On hot days, you can lift and inward-tilt the lower sash to separate warm and cool air into separate streams, with cool air passing in and hot air filtered up. For maximum effect, you can have the window lifted with both sashes opened inward.


The Benefits of Single-Hung Windows

Single hung windows are a popular choice in homes, apartments and business buildings. The design is well-liked by residents, tenants and landlords because the single-hung window is easy to operate and convenient to use in a wide range of interior schemes. With their contemporary look, single-hung windows can also complement a vast array of furnishing layouts.

The benefits of single-hung windows can be summarized as follows:

  • Easy to operate. Single-hung windows are incredibly easy to operate because opening the window can be done by simply unlocking and lifting the lower sash. Single-hung windows are also easy to clean from the inside as well as on the outside on single-story homes and ground-level floors. Additionally, single-hung windows are relatively safe to operate.
  • Good ventilation. Single-hung windows can be opened up at any time to bring clean air into a room. When the lower sash is raised, it stays elevated for as long as you want to let the air inside. The lower sash can be opened to any height you choose. You could raise it all the way on hot days or crack it just an inch or two when you need mild circulation.
  • Air conditioner-friendly. An air conditioner can easily be placed in just about any single-hung window. As long as the window sill is deep enough to support the weight of an A/C unit, the lower sash can be raised just high enough to brace the air conditioner within the window for the entirety of a hot season. In most areas of the U.S., the heat of summer makes A/C compatibility an essential feature of window design.

Single hung windows are a popular choice in homes and apartments


The Benefits of Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows offer some of the greatest benefits of all window designs. Because double-hung window sashes open at the top as well as the bottom, the design is safer for families, easier to clean on the inside and outside and ideal when it comes to air circulation.

Here’s a closer look at the advantages:

  • Easy to operate. Double-hung windows are easy to operate because the only action required to open and close such windows is a lift or a tilt.
  • Easy to clean. Since both the top and bottom portions of the window can be tilted inward, the outer sides of the glass panes can be washed easily even if the window is on an elevated floor. This is one of the advantages over single-hung windows, which are difficult and risky to clean on the outside of elevated floors without the use of extension tools.
  • Superior ventilation. Thanks to its tilt option, the double-hung window offers some of the best ventilation of any window style. The lower sash can be lifted and tilted for a double stream of ventilation, while the upper sash can also be tilted for even more airflow. On hot days, cool air can circulate through a slight lift of space under the lower sash while warm air can be filtered upward through the inward tilt of both the lower and upper sash.
  • Child safe. Double-hung windows — which are barely cracked at the bottom when open — are considerably safer for small children than single-hung windows, which can be raised high enough for a child to fall right through. Double-hung windows are also one of the safest window options for owners of cats, dogs and other small household pets.
  • Air conditioner-friendly. Just as with single-hung windows, a double-hung window can be used to brace an A/C unit into place during the hotter months of the year. Granted, you won’t be able to tilt the sashes inward, but with a vertical lift of the bottom sash to accommodate the height of the air conditioner, your room will have the needed coolness to make it through days that surpass 80 degrees in temperature.

Double hung windows are safer for families

Different Types of Replacement Windows

Aside from the conventional designs of the single-hung and double-hung window, homeowners and building owners can opt for various other design options when it comes to the installation of new windows.

If you wish for windows that bring tall gusts of vertical air into a living room or dining area, sliding or casement windows might be your preferred option. Alternately, the garden or bay window could serve as an extension to your living area.

Any one of the following replacement options could provide your quarters with optimal light and refreshing breeze:

  • Sliding windows. As an alternative to windows that go up and down, the sliding window moves side to side. When you want to ventilate the room, the sliding sash can be moved as far as you want it to go. Whereas single-hung openings are all about width over height, sliding openings stress height over width, which opens a room to a greater degree of circulation. When cleaning is needed on an outside pane, the sash latch can be unlocked to swing the window inward.
  • Casement windows. As one of the oldest and most practical window styles in the world, casement windows attach to a frame with side hinges that allow each sash to open outward along the middle. As with sliding windows, the opening is vertical instead of horizontal, which allows for great amounts of air circulation into a room when open.
  • Awning windows. A simpler window for narrower rooms and wall spaces, an awning window consists of a single horizontal rectangular sash that’s hinged at the top and opens outward from the bottom. An awning window can be a practical choice for the bathroom, where the awning can serve as the lone window above head-level and, consequently, offer both ventilation and privacy.
  • Basement windows. Similar in design to the awning window, yet hinged at the bottom, the basement window opens outward from the top to bring air circulation into the basement area. Since basements are rarely occupied, the circulation of this area is often neglected. As a result, basement areas and the contents within are often subjected to moisture intrusion. The horizontal and rectangular design of the basement window solves this problem with a downward breeze cycle.
  • Bay windows. One of the more elaborate options for a living area is the bay window, which consists of three or four panels that form an outward bowed shape. Unlike single- or double-hung windows, which simply allow for the passage of light and air circulation, a bay window offers the additional value of extra space into a living area. The side sashes of a bay window can be opened outward vertically to allow tall gusts of breeze into a room, while the outward ledge can be used as a shelf for candles, vases and fixtures. With their classic look, bay windows are especially suited for living rooms in high-class homes.
  • Garden windows. Like the bay window, garden windows extend outward from a living area and give added space to a room. The design of a garden window usually consists of a tall, wide frontal panel, which is extended outward by mirroring narrow side panels, either of which can be cracked open for air circulation. The above panel consists of a tilted window pane that offers overhead sunlight, while the bottom provides a shelving area for house plants and flowers. As such, garden windows serve as miniature green spaces.
  • Geometric windows. For those who wish for a less conventional look to their living areas, windows of the geometric variety offer the most diverse array of options in the area of window design. True to its name, the geometric window can come in a variety of shapes, from tall and round-topped to hexagonal, diamond or parallelogram-shaped. As such, the geometric option is an ideal choice for homeowners who seek a more artistic look for their living rooms, bedrooms or dining areas.

Casement windows attach to a frame with side hinges


What Type of Replacement Windows Should I Buy?

Before you choose a particular type of replacement window for your home or building, consider both your functional needs and aesthetic tastes. As far as needs are concerned, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of functions do I want in a new window?
  • What type of window would be most suitable for me and other household members/patrons?
  • How much money am I willing to spend on replacement windows?

Here’s how to work out your own answers to these questions:

  • Functions. To answer the first question, consider the various functions that a new window could offer, such as the ability to lift or open in one or more ways. If you simply wish to lift the window vertically and install an air conditioner during certain times each year, a single- or double-hung window would be the most practical option. If you want or need a wider array of airflow options, the double-hung would likely be favorable.
  • User needs. Your new window should address your own needs and the needs of your housemate or fellow building occupants. If everyone is merely concerned about practicality, the single- or double-hung would be ideal. Then again, more of you might prefer the long, tall opening of the sliding window. If the window is for a child’s room, a dual-hung window or perhaps even a high-placed awning window could be the safest options.
  • Price. As far as pricing is concerned, consider the upfront cost as well as the longevity of a window and the maintenance involved in the years ahead. While a single-hung window could be the most affordable option today, a double-hung would be easier to clean on both sides of each glass pane, which could save time and labor costs.

Of course, to a certain extent, it all comes back to appearance. Each style of replacement window has its own visual appeal. Some serve as practical frames around the glass panels that bring in sunlight and offer glimpses of the beauty outside, while other styles are more ornate and serve as visual fixtures unto themselves.

The former category would include single- and double-hung windows as well as the sliding and casement styles. The latter, more ornate category, would include bay windows and various options of the geometric variety.

Each replacement window style has its own visual appeal


What Types of Replacement Windows Are Best?

No type of window style is inherently better than the other, since each has its own charms. It’s true that most window designs provide the same functions — light passage and optional air circulation — but when it comes to the single-hung vs. double-hung window debate, efficiency and ease-of-use can be enjoyed with both.

Just remember that the double-hung can be opened at the top as well as the bottom. As such, the double-hung window offers more powerful circulation and cleaning capabilities.

At Sunshine Contracting Corp., we specialize in the installation of double-hung windows in Northern Virginia. We proudly serve residents in ArlingtonFairfaxPrince WilliamLoudounStafford County and surrounding areas. To learn more about our window installation services, contact our service representatives today for a free estimate.


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