Double-hung windows and single-hung windows are very similar, but they differ in a few key ways. Double-hung windows are easier to clean and provide more airflow, while single-hung windows are more energy-efficient and affordable.
The average price for a double-hung window is around $650 — or between $300 and $1,000 — while single-hung windows typically cost around $450 — or between $160 and $730. Both options are common in homes across the country, so you should have no issue finding replacement windows or an installer that can handle them for you.
We utilize RS Means, a contractor-trusted estimate system, to find the most accurate industry pricing. We also research top window company prices to find what manufacturers and retailers are charging for window materials and installation.
Today’s Homeowner works with an independent reviews team to create evidence-based research that helps our readers make informed decisions. The reviews are always independent. For transparency, we may be compensated if you purchase through a link.
What Is a Double-Hung Window?
A double-hung window has two operable sashes that slide up and down in the window frame. This allows for either the upper sash or bottom sash to be opened for ventilation, and both can be opened partially to create better airflow.
The sashes on double-hung windows — at least on modern ones — also typically pivot inward to make cleaning both the inside and outside of the panes of glass from inside your home straightforward.
What Is a Single-Hung Window?
A single-hung window is similar to a double-hung window, but it has one fixed sash — usually the top sash — and one moveable sash — usually the bottom sash. The ventilation options aren’t as good with this window style, but the fixed pane — similar to a partial picture window — does offer better energy efficiency.
The moveable sash on a single-hung window can sometimes pivot inward for cleaning, but this is less common. In either case, cleaning the outside of the upper part of the window is challenging from inside.
Considerations for Choosing Between a Double-hung or Single-hung Window
Although these two window styles are similar, there are some key differences you’ll want to consider before choosing one for your home. We’ll discuss the primary differences in the sections below.
Airflow and Ventilation
The most significant difference is in the airflow capabilities of these types of windows. With just one moveable sash, single-hung windows can either be opened or closed on the bottom while the top remains stationary. This provides some ventilation, but not quite as much as a double-hung window.
On a double-hung window, you have the option to open just one sash — either the top or the bottom — unlike the single choice you have with a single-hung window. You can also partially open both sashes, which provides better airflow. The warm air that rises in the room can escape from the top opening, while cool, fresh air from outside can flow in through the lower sash.
Double-hung windows are naturally more expensive because they have more moving parts and are usually in higher demand. That translates to higher installation costs and higher window repair costs as well.
A single-hung window will average around $450, while a double-hung window will average around $650 per unit. Of course, these prices can vary quite a bit based on frame material, glass quality, design options, hardware, size, glazings, and more, but equivalent double-hung windows will always be more expensive.
Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance
As mentioned above, double-hung windows have two sashes that tilt in. This means you can easily clean both sides of the glass while standing inside your house. Single-hung windows often don’t have this feature — and if they do, one pane will still not be able to pivot.
Double-hung windows are a better option if you’re looking for easy cleaning, especially if they’re located on the second floor, where you’d need a ladder to reach the exterior of a single-hung window.
Both double-hung windows and single-hung windows can be quite energy-efficient, and many of the top brands for these styles have great U-factor values — a measurement of insulative properties — and Energy Star ratings. However, moveable sashes rely on weatherstripping to seal between the frame and the moveable sashes, so fixed panes will usually be more efficient than moveable panes due to decreased air infiltration.
As such, single-hung windows offer more insulation and better efficiency than double-hung windows — provided the comparison is made between windows of the same frame and glass types and quality.
Both styles of windows are among the easiest to install. Since these are the most popular window types, they come in standard sizes. That means your installer will more or less never have to reframe or resize the wall opening to replace one of these windows — unless, of course, you’re replacing a window on an old home built before these standards were developed.
The actual process for installation is the same for both styles, so the labor costs will also be similar.
Both styles come in standard sizes, many of which are the same. The most common window sizes for single-hung or double-hung windows are listed in the table below and shared between the two.
|Width||Height||Listed Window Size|
Style and Aesthetics
Lastly, the style and appearance of double-hung and single-hung windows are more or less the same. Both windows come in standard frame options — like fiberglass, wood, PVC, and vinyl — and most window manufacturers produce both styles in a variety of color and glass options.
When these windows are closed, they’ll look identical. The only difference between them visually will appear when a double-hung window is open on both the top and the bottom, which a single-hung window cannot do.
Where Are Double-hung and Single-hung Windows Used?
Both window styles are used in just about every area throughout the country, although single-hung windows are sometimes more prevalent in traditionally colder and hotter climates due to their higher efficiency ratings.
As far as locations within the home go, these styles are common in most rooms. They’re the most popular options for bedrooms, and they regularly appear in living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens as well. They can appear in bathrooms, although this is far less common for privacy reasons, and smaller or horizontally oriented window styles are more prevalent.
Single-hung vs. Double-hung Window Cost
For equivalent frame and glass materials and window size, single-hung windows will always be more affordable. Double-hung windows include more moving parts and, consequently, more expensive warranties—which drives up the manufacturing cost a bit. On average, double-hung windows will cost around 1.45x more than single-hung windows.
The table below includes some pricing comparisons for different frame and glass options, which will be the largest cost factors to consider. Keep in mind that these are just averages, and your numbers may vary.
|Average Single-Hung Window Cost||Average Double-Hung Window Cost|
Cost data includes the window unit only. Labor and installation fees will likely add $40-$65 per hour and installer to project costs, if applicable. Data gathered from RS Means construction materials and labor database.
Final Thoughts: Single-hung vs. Double-hung Windows
Both single-hung and double-hung windows are popular options in homes across the country, and they’re great options for just about any room in the house — with the exception of some smaller bathrooms that need more privacy.
Double-hung windows provide more ventilation and are easier to clean, but they’re less energy-efficient and more expensive. Single-hung windows provide better insulation and are more affordable, but they’re harder to clean and don’t provide as much airflow in your home.
Ultimately, both window options are suitable for most window replacement projects, so you’ll have to decide on the best window option for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know if My Window Is Single or Double-hung?
The easiest way to tell the difference is to unlock the windows and try to move the top and bottom sashes up or down. If both sashes move, you have a double-hung window. If only one sash moves — usually the bottom one — you have a single-hung window. Keep in mind that it’s possible for sashes to get stuck or sealed if you recently painted the frames, so make sure that’s not the case when testing your window.
Can Double-hung Windows Be Used in a Basement?
Yes, double-hung windows can be used in basements, but only if you have a window well installed outside that’s large enough to accommodate the longer window style. Hopper windows and awning windows — which are horizontally oriented — are often more suitable for basements that don’t have window wells installed.
Even where there is a well installed, casement windows are often preferred because they have a large enough opening to provide a point of egress, which is important in a basement for safety reasons.
What Is the Point of Double-hung Windows?
Double-hung windows have two sashes that open independently. The idea behind this is better airflow and ventilation since warm air that rises inside your home can flow out of the upper opening, while cool air can flow in through the bottom opening.
What Should I Look for When I Am Buying a Window?
The first thing you’ll want to decide on when buying a new window is the style, which you can choose based on appearance, functionality, ventilation, cost, energy efficiency, or some combination of these factors. Next, you should consider the size dimensions of the wall opening in your home and make sure to buy a window that fits properly without having to reframe the opening — which can add time and money to your window replacement costs.
Finally, you should consider frame and glass options. Frame options include aluminum, vinyl (PVC), wood, composite, and fiberglass — all of which have different insulative properties and longevity. Glass types include plexiglass, single-pane glass, double-pane, and triple-pane—in order from least to most energy-efficient window options—and you’ll also have glass treatments to choose from, including tinting and low-E glass (low-emissivity) coatings.