When it comes to choosing new windows for your home, one of the most common decisions is between single hung and double hung varieties. Both offer classic style and functionality, but their operation and features can vary. So how do you determine what’s best for each room or floor of your house? We’ll compare the pros and cons of single and double hung windows to help find the optimal placement in your space.
Single hung windows have one movable lower sash that slides up and down, while the upper sash remains stationary. Double hung windows have two movable sashes that both slide up and down. This key difference impacts ventilation, accessibility, cleaning, and cost. By understanding these factors, you can match the right window to the needs of each area.
How Single and Double Hung Windows Operate
Single Hung Windows
With single hung windows, the bottom sash slides up and down in the frame while the top sash is fixed in place. This allows you to open the lower sash for ventilation while maintaining privacy and security with the stationary top sash.
Since only the bottom sash moves, single hung windows are simple to operate. Just lift up on the bottom sash lock and slide it upwards to the desired height. Close it by sliding the sash down and locking it back into place.
The fixed upper sash makes single hung windows ideal if you only need lower ventilation. Heat and odors escape through the open bottom sash, while the closed top sash keeps out rain, bugs, and provides insulation.
Double Hung Windows
Double hung windows have two sashes that both slide up and down. This allows you to open either the top or bottom sash to control ventilation. If you want maximum air circulation, you can open both sashes.
To operate double hung windows, unlock the sash lock and slide the bottom and/or top sash to the desired position. Close them by sliding back down and re-engaging the sash locks. An advantage of double hung windows is the top sash can tilt inward, making it easy to clean the exterior glass from inside the house.
With both sashes movable, double hung windows give you full control over ventilation. Open just the bottom sash to let in fresh air while keeping the view blocked, or open just the top sash for circulation without street noise or dust. For cross breezes, open both.
Factors Impacting Placement
When determining the optimal use for single and double hung windows, there are a few key factors that impact performance based on placement. Assess your specific needs in these areas when selecting windows for each room.
If your main priority is maximizing ventilation and airflow, double hung windows give you the most options. With two movable sashes, you can fine tune both high and low air circulation.
Single hung windows work well if you mainly need fresh air entering lower in the room. The stationary top sash maintains insulation and security while allowing odors, smoke, and other gases to vent through the bottom opening.
Access for Cleaning
One of the biggest advantages of double hung windows is the tilt-in feature of the top sash. By tilting the top sash inward, you can easily reach the exterior glass to clean it from inside your house. This avoids the need for ladders or scaffolding to clean outside upper floor windows.
With single hung windows, the only way to reach the exterior of the top sash is from the outside. This makes cleaning more difficult, especially if the windows are on upper floors without easy outdoor access.
Double hung windows are ideally suited for upper floors of multi-story homes. With their top sashes that tilt inward, cleaning is simple even for windows on the second floor or above. Maximum ventilation is also possible thanks to both sashes opening.
For main floor rooms with 8 foot ceilings or lower, single hung windows often provide sufficient ventilation. Since these lower windows are easier to reach, outside cleaning access poses less of an issue. The lower opening also prevents dust and pollen from entering, while letting in fresh air.
One of the biggest variables between single and double hung windows is cost. In general, double hung windows will be more expensive due to their increased complexity.
With two movable sashes, double hung windows require more operating hardware like sash locks, pulleys, and counterbalance mechanisms. The dual sliding sash frames also use more materials. These factors increase manufacturing costs.
Single hung windows have a simpler mechanical design with just one movable sash. Fewer materials and straightforward construction make them the budget friendly option. However, the money saved on upfront costs may be negated long-term if accessibility makes cleaning single hung windows on upper floors more difficult.
Energy Efficiency Considerations
Both single and double hung windows can offer similar energy efficiency levels when properly weatherproofed and sealed. The key is using high quality materials like insulated glass, improved weatherstripping, and tight construction.
With their fixed upper sash, single hung windows may have an advantage in certain homes. Keeping the top sash permanently closed eliminates any air gaps that could occur if a movable upper sash is not properly lowered and weatherstripped.
However, double hung windows allow for cross ventilation, circulating air through the entire room rather than just entering from the bottom. This airflow can help reduce hot and cold spots that create uncomfortable temperatures and hike energy bills.
Double hung windows provide more options for muting outside noise based on how you position the sashes. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Open just the top sash to get fresh air while keeping lower street noise out
- Close the bottom sash while ventilating through the open top to reduce noise entering low in the room
- Open both sashes with the bottom opened wider to allow airflow while dampening noise through the narrower top opening
With single hung windows, lowering the bottom sash and keeping the top closed contains noise effectively. But you lose some flexibility without a movable upper sash to fine tune ventilation and sound blocking.
Security and Privacy
The fixed upper sash of a single hung window maintains privacy and security. With no ability to open or slide the upper sash down, there’s less opportunity for intruders to access the window from outside.
Double hung windows allow you to open either sash, which could potentially make it easier to access the window from the exterior. However, you can lock the bottom sash closed while ventilating through the top, minimizing this risk.
If window visibility is a concern, double hung windows give you more options. Open just the top sash for added daylight and ventilation while keeping the bottom sash closed to block sight lines into the room.
Making the Best Choice
When selecting between single and double hung windows, start by considering the primary goal. If maximizing ventilation is key, double hung windows provide the most flexibility. Prioritize cleaning access? Double hung’s tilt-in sashes make upkeep simple. Concerned about noise or privacy? Tailor sash positions to tune both.
On the other hand, if cost savings is paramount or lower ventilation sufficient, single hung windows hit that balance. Their prime location is lower levels where cleaning access, light, and views matter less. Historic homes may also favor the traditional aesthetic of a single fixed sash up top.
Don’t forget to factor in energy efficiency considerations too. Proper weatherproofing and quality materials determine performance for both styles. Double hung windows can improve airflow but may require vigilant maintenance to prevent air leaks.
For many homes, a combination of window types in optimal spots amplifies strengths and mitigates weaknesses. Single hung windows where appropriate enhanced by double hung windows in key areas needing ventilation flexibility, convenient cleaning, and noise reduction. Finding the right solution comes down to understanding the advantages of each.
Single and double hung windows both offer classic styling and smooth operation. But the details–one versus two movable sashes–make a difference in airflow, access, visibility, and cost. Evaluating the placement, goals, and usage of each window is the key to matching the right style to the space.
If maximizing ventilation is critical, double hung windows open up more options. Single hung windows focus airflow through the bottom sash while maintaining privacy and security up top. For convenient cleaning, double hung windows tilt open easily. And improved access comes at a price, with double hung windows costing more than their single hung counterparts.
Homeowners will benefit from carefully weighing the pros and cons of each type. Optimal placement amplifies the strengths of single and double hung windows while minimizing weaknesses. Keeping the performance differences in mind will lead you to the perfect solution for refreshing your home with improved ventilation, style, and functionality.
1. Double-hung windows have more moving parts which can break down over time compared to single-hung. However, with proper maintenance and using durable materials, double-hung windows can also provide a long lifespan.
2. Double-hung windows offer better energy efficiency through improved airflow. The ability to open both the top and bottom sashes allows for stack ventilation which helps remove hot air in the summer. In the winter, closing the bottom sash while ventilating through the top retains more heat.
3. Double-hung windows can improve child safety since the bottom sash can be locked while leaving the top open for ventilation. This prevents accidental falls while still allowing in fresh air.
4. For noise reduction, double-hung windows provide more flexibility. Homeowners can find the ideal balance of ventilation and sound blocking by how much they open each sash. This finer control is lacking in single-hung windows.
5. With both a top and bottom sash that slide, double-hung windows allow for more customization options. Different windowpane configurations, tints, hardware finishes, security features, and more can be added to both sashes.
6. Since they have more parts, double-hung windows typically take more time and expertise to properly install. The installation process may also be more disruptive to interior trim or require more modifications to the window framing.
7. Double-hung windows require more frequent maintenance like lubricating pulleys and sash cords. The homeowner will also need to inspect both sashes for damage and make repairs to ensure smooth operation. But proper care will extend the window’s lifespan.
8. The increased ventilation abilities, easier cleaning access, and historical architecture preservation of double-hung windows can make them a smart long-term investment despite their higher initial purchase price.
9. For historically styled homes, single-hung windows may more closely match the original architecture. Many preservation codes require replacing windows with a similar look including a fixed upper sash.