Single Hung vs. Double Hung Windows: Pros and Cons
Replacement windows are not created equal. They are built by a variety of different manufacturers, some with really stellar reputations and others that are lesser-known or just getting established.
Then, there is selecting a material type for your replacement windows and style. Among the choices you’ll have to make during this selection is if you want single hung, double hung, or even triple hung windows.
Single hung vs. double hung windows – What is the difference? Is one type considered better than the other? In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of each type of replacement window.
About Window Operation
Windows are sold in a variety of different types and styles. Some windows are designed to open fully, partially, or not to open at all. Of course, it depends on the personal preference of the homeowner on what types of windows they wish to replace and wherein the house.
When you examine a particular room and determine which window(s) will get replaced you need to first decide if you would like the window to open and close, or not.
There are a number of considerations to help make this final decision easier:
- The type of room. It’s always a good idea to have plenty of airflow in places like the kitchen and bathroom. Generally, windows in these rooms open and close in order to produce more airflow.
- The amount of ventilation. It may not make too much sense to have first floor or basement windows open and close not only for security purposes but also because the ventilation is not nearly as needed as, for example, a second-story bedroom.
- Curb appeal. Some homeowners replace windows with the sole intent of improving curb appeal when it’s time to sell the home. Others plan to remain in the home yet want to make their exterior stand out more in the neighborhood.
- Maintenance. Windows that are operable (open and close) are generally easier to maintain. While there are more working parts that could break, double hung windows are easier to clean. So there is a trade off.
Single Hung vs. Double Hung Windows: The Primary Difference
The biggest difference between a single hung vs. double hung window is its operation. Single hung windows have a top sash that’s fixed and will not move. Meanwhile, the bottom sash is operable as it opens and shuts.
On the other hand, double hung windows have two operable sashes. So one or both can get moved at the same time in order to have more options for inviting in airflow or providing an escape for unwanted interior odors.
There is no black and white answer for which type of window is better than the other. Single hung and double hung windows are produced in a variety of styles and both work well. Often it comes down to personal preference or based on the room they are installed in.
Single Hung Windows
Single hung windows are more basic compared to double hung windows yet that doesn’t necessarily make them inferior.
For starters, single hung windows are 10 to 20 percent cheaper than double hung windows. One distinct advantage of going single hung vs. double hung windows is because you’ll save a lot of money. The savings especially add up if you’re replacing all the windows in your home.
Secondly, some prefer the simple operation of single hung windows. There are less working parts meaning fewer opportunities for operable functions to break down and require maintenance. There also may not be any reason for needing both sashes to move. So why spend more money when you may rarely open the top sash?
Though single hung windows may not have some of the advantages and features of double hung windows the cost is ultimately a huge factor in what makes them so popular. Window replacements are expensive so saving a little extra cash where you can help those on a tight home improvement budget.
The biggest problem with the single hung style is that there are several limitations. Single hung windows provide less airflow and ventilation. They are also more difficult to clean. The exterior is particularly troublesome as you can only reach the top sash from the outside. If the window is on a second or third story that will require a ladder which can be physically challenging and not to mention dangerous.
If you need to hire a professional window company to adequately clean the exterior a few times of the year then the cheaper upfront costs no longer look quite as attractive.
Also, single hung windows that are installed in rooms like the bathroom often pose several problems. The limited ventilation results in higher moisture concentration and little relief from humidity, mildew growth, and odor control.
Double Hung Windows
Double hung windows have a lot of positives working in their favor. The two operable sashes provides many different ways you can get airflow as well as properly ventilate a room.
It also helps with cleaning. When you’re able to move each sash then you can access hard to reach places like those found on single hung windows. It saves you from having to access the windows from the outside, especially second and third story windows. There is no need to hire a professional window cleaner with double hung windows.
Though there are more parts, and thus an opportunity for increased mechanical failure, using the windows as recommended should avoid repairs for many years.
The biggest knock on double hung windows is they are more expensive. You will spend more money on double hung windows regardless of the style or manufacturer. So, if you are replacing all or most of the windows in a house, the total bill is going to be much higher.
The Final Verdict: Which Window is Best?
Though there is no black and white solution – double hung windows are traditionally better than single hung just because of the improved airflow and ventilation.
You will have to spend more money on double hung windows yet the costs may be lower over the years of hiring a professional window cleaner for difficult to reach second story single hung windows.
Additionally, there are rebates and credits the utility companies and the U.S. government is currently offering to homeowners that are choosing to make their homes more energy efficient. In the end the upfront costs of double hung windows may not look as drastic as first glance.