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Single-hung vs. double-hung windows: Which is best for your home?

To narrow down your choices quickly and easily, here's what you need to know about the differences between these two popular choices.
Couple pet their dog while relaxing in bed with double-hung windows behind them

Chances are you’ve come across these windows, even if you’re not familiar with their official names. They’re some of the most common windows around. Here’s what you need to know to decide between them.

What’s the difference between single-hung and double-hung windows?

The main difference between single-hung and double-hung windows is how they open. The top sash (glass panel) of a single-hung window doesn’t open (it is “fixed”), so you can only open the window by lifting the bottom sash up. A double-hung window also opens from the bottom, and in addition allows you to slide the top sash down, so you can open top, bottom, or both.

The difference in how these two windows operate means each has unique characteristics, which we’ll explain in just a minute. But before we get into those details, here’s what you should know about what single-hung and double-hung windows have in common.

Man opening single-hung window on a beautiful day
Both single-hung and double-hung windows can be opened by sliding the bottom sash (glass panel) up. Double-hung windows have the added benefit of opening from the top too. 100 Series single-hung windows are pictured here with specified divided light grilles.

What do single-hung and double-hung windows have in common?

These window types with their two sashes stacked vertically basically look identical. Here’s what else they have in common:

  • They both have a timeless aesthetic that looks great on traditional and modern-classic homes — think farmhouse, colonial, craftsman, Cape Cod, and more.
  • They open flush to the wall, which makes them ideal next to patios, decks and anywhere else an outward opening window would obstruct space.
  • Both are available in a range of options, so you can find a window that suits your needs in terms of aesthetics, performance, material type and cost. Additionally, either window will work whether you’re building a new construction home, remodeling, or replacing — there's no wrong choice here! Find more details.

With their similar look, it’s easy to mix single- and double-hung windows throughout your home, choosing one over the other depending on your needs. Keep reading to find out where single-hung windows work best.

When you might want to pick a single-hung window

In general, single-hung windows are a great fit when you’re looking for a classic look and simple functionality. Here's what we mean:

  • When you’re prioritizing energy efficiency. With fewer moving parts and features, single-hung windows can help reduce energy loss and improve savings on utility bills.
  • When you need extra peace of mind. 100 Series single-hung windows latch automatically when closed making them a good option in a first-floor bedroom or anywhere else you never want to worry about remembering to lock the windows.
  • When you need a good window at a good price point. A single-hung window is simpler to construct than a double-hung window. This is reflected in the price. Mixing single- and double-hung windows throughout your home will help you create a cohesive look at a lower price.
  • When you might struggle to open the top sash. With windows that are oversized or placed high on a wall, you might be more likely to use the bottom sash only. Think through the logistics of opening the window before you pick one over the other.

Now that you know the advantages of single-hung windows, let's look at the unique benefits of double-hung windows.

A Chicago row house restored with single-hung windows for a historically accurate look
Single-hung windows were used throughout the renovation of this 1890s Chicago flat. Their classic look perfectly suits its historic style. These windows are actually inserts (or windows that fit into an existing window frame).

When you might want to pick a double-hung window

Enjoy the same classic aesthetic with additional air flow and options for easier maintenance. Here’s what we mean:

  • When you’re picking windows for a well-used room: Bring in lots of fresh air with these flexible windows. With two sashes that open at once, you can choose to open the top sash, bottom, or both. In a room with only one window, a double-hung is a great option because it will allow you to vent the hot air that’s risen to the top of the room out of the top opening while cooler air can flow in through the bottom opening.
  • When you’re picking upper-level windows: Maintenance is easier on double-hung windows due to the tilt-wash option, which allows you to clean both the exterior and interior of the window from inside your home — skip the ladder! Find double-hung tilt-wash windows in our 200, 400, A-Series, and E-Series
A modern farmhouse with white exterior and black windows stands out against a vibrant green lawn
Double-hung windows suit homes of various styles, including this modern farmhouse, which features both 400 Series double-hung windows and 400 Series picture windows.

There's no bad choice when you’re picking between our single-hung and double-hung windows, but you can be strategic about selecting the one whose benefits best fit your needs in any given space.

Now that you have an idea about what differentiates these windows, maybe it’s time to take the next step: Get our tips for hiring a good window contractor.

How to hire a good contractor