Compare Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung Windows

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 2, 2024

Typically service cost ranges from $150$600

Get Estimate

All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The two most common types of residential windows are single-hung and double-hung. Both take up the same amount of space and serve similar functions, but they have a different number of operable sashes (the part of the window that holds the glass in place). A double-hung window has a movable upper and lower sash, whereas a single-hung window only opens at the bottom. This guide covers the pros and cons of both types to help you decide which is best for your home.

Double-Hung Windows: Overview

It’s difficult to tell the difference between single- and double-hung windows from outside a home. The two are so similar in appearance that you must be indoors to see whether the upper sash moves. Double-hung windows are slightly less common simply because single-hung windows have been around longer. However, they’ve become popular in new homes and constructions because they’re more functional.

Homes in mild climates that regulate temperature by opening windows often have double-hung windows because they allow for better airflow between the home’s interior and exterior. Double-hung windows are also helpful on higher floors because most can be cleaned entirely from indoors.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of double-hung windows.


Allows for air circulation

More expensive

Easier to clean

Less energy-efficient

Safer to leave open around children and pets

Potentially less secure

Get your quote on double-hung windows today

Get a Window Installation Quote in Your State

Single-Hung Windows: Overview

Single-hung windows are the most common type of residential window. They date back to the 17th century and appear in most old and historic homes. However, they’re also popular in contemporary construction because they’re affordable and energy-efficient.

Single-hung windows are more common on first floors because the top sash can’t be pried down, making them secure from break-ins compared to double-hung options, though they’re still not entirely secure. The exterior of single-hung windows also can’t be cleaned from the inside, so it makes sense to have them on lower floors where they can be reached for outside cleaning.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Here are the key highlights and cons of single-hung windows.


More cost-effective

Less fresh air

Less air leakage

Harder to clean

More secure

Potentially riskier for kids and pets

Get your quote on single-hung windows today

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung: Cost

Single-hung windows are less expensive than double-hung windows because they have fewer moving parts and lighter frames. Most single-hung windows cost $150 to $400 each, whereas double-hung windows cost $200 to $600. Double-hung windows can also cost more to install because they’re usually heavier. Although the price difference per window isn’t large, the cost can add up quickly if you’re replacing windows on an entire house.

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung: Ventilation

The primary advantage of double-hung windows is increased ventilation. Since both the top and bottom sash open, more air can circulate. Single-hung windows do allow some airflow but at a lesser level.

On the downside, the two movable sashes increase air infiltration and decrease energy efficiency. Although all windows are manufactured with seals to prevent air leakage, these seals degrade over time, and double-hung windows offer twice the opportunities for leaks. As a result, single- and double-hung are some of the least energy-efficient window options. You can maximize their efficiency by choosing ones that are ENERGY STAR®-rated.

There are alternatives if you decide single- and double-hung windows aren’t suitable for your home. Awning and casement windows are the most weathertight because the sash closes by pressing directly against the frame. Alternatively, picture windows offer excellent efficiency because they don’t open at all.

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung: Safety

Because both sashes open, double-hung windows are less secure, particularly when placed on the bottom floor. If the upper sash isn’t properly secured, it can be pried downward from the outside and opened. For this reason, some homeowners put single-hung windows on the first floor and double-hung windows on upper-level floors.

Double-hung windows provide slightly better safety for pets and small children. If you need to leave a window open in a room where children or animals are playing, it’s safer to open a top sash that can neither be accessed to crawl out of nor pulled down to crush small fingers.

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung: Style Options

There are still more single-hung than double-hung windows in homes, but double-hung windows are more popular for newer constructions. This means double-hung windows have more size, style, and color options. Here are some of the most common styles.

You’ll also be able to choose window frames, which vary widely in style, function, and efficiency. Most popular brands, such as Pella, offer multiple frame options.

The best windows are the ones that fit your design and budget. Make sure to consider energy efficiency and maintenance needs, so you aren’t surprised by window repair costs and utility bills down the line.

Get Estimates From Local Window Installers Near You
Just answer a few questions, and we’ll take care of the rest!

Compare Window Types

Here’s a direct comparison of double-hung and single-hung windows.



Moveable upper and lower sash

Movable lower sash, fixed upper sash


Easier to clean but may require more maintenance for moving parts

More difficult to clean but less likely to require repair

Energy efficiency


Above average




Style options

More options

Not as many options


Available in more sizes

Available in fewer sizes

Our Recommendation

Both double- and single-hung windows have benefits and drawbacks. The right windows for you may be a combination of the two. Overall, single-hung windows are best for first-floor rooms that need openable windows and some ventilation. Double-hung windows are best for upper-floor rooms that require maximum air circulation. Single-hung windows are more cost-efficient, whereas double-hung windows offer more style options.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

You may be able to install windows yourself if you have substantial do-it-yourself (DIY) experience and are working on the ground floor. However, window replacement is best completed by professionals in most cases. Professional window installers have the tools, knowledge, and experience to do the job correctly the first time. They’ll be able to put in new windows much faster than you and will ensure the frame is properly finished and insulated.

Taking on the project yourself will save money, though you’ll need to purchase additional tools and materials before getting started. Keep in mind that if you’re replacing the whole window frame, you’ll also need to repair the trim, siding, and drywall.

Request free quotes from at least three different providers before making a decision. Look at the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile and online reviews to learn about real customers’ experiences. Also, look for contractors who offer warranties on workmanship and materials.

Get your quote on professional window installation today

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung Windows FAQ

What is the difference between double-hung and single-hung windows?

The difference between double-hung and single-hung windows is the number of movable sashes, or the part of the window that opens and holds the glass in place. A single-hung window has only one sash—the lower one—that moves up and down to open. Double-hung windows have two operable sashes to open at both the top and bottom.

Why install double-hung windows?

Double-hung windows offer greater ventilation by allowing hot air to escape when the top sash is lowered. They also make window cleaning easier since many have tilt-in sashes that let you clean the interior and exterior of the window from inside.

Are single-hung windows cheaper than double-hung?

Yes, single-hung windows are less expensive than double-hung windows. Single-hung windows typically cost about 10 to 20% less than double-hung windows of the same size and style.

Which window is better for energy efficiency: double-hung or single-hung windows?

Single-hung windows are more energy-efficient than double-hung windows because they allow less air leakage. Since only one window sash opens, there’s less of a chance that air will escape.

How We Chose the Top Window Brands

We researched and analyzed dozens of window manufacturers. We then crafted a rating system based on each brand’s standard and energy-efficient product offerings.

We spoke directly to representatives at each company to learn how the installation process works and determine how each brand personalizes its windows for each home. We also closely analyzed each company’s warranty options to ensure their product and labor guarantees match or exceed industry standards. 

Finally, we assessed the manufacturer’s years of experience and customer reputation. In addition, we analyzed the 100 most recent Google Reviews for each provider across various locations and branches.