What Are Single-Hung Windows?

They are windows that open vertically. In this case, only the bottom sash will operate—it will slide up and the top sash is stationary.

When it comes to choosing a style for replacement windows you have a lot of options to go with. However, one of the two most common options are double-hung and single-hung windows. Single-hung windows, as Jonathan mentioned, are pretty basic.

Typically, this is what you’ll find in cheap, single-pane contractor windows but also in many historic homes. These homes were built before the advent of double-hung windows. So, homeowners that want to maintain a historically accurate look, might opt for single-hung replacement windows in wood or faux wood composite.

While double and single-hung windows share a lot of attributes they have a lot of differences. Those differences could play a factor in what you choose for your home. So, let’s take a look at both, and see which type of windows are best for your Houston home.

Single-Hung Windows vs. Double-Hung Windows

Single-hung windows are also known as single-sash windows. Either way, it’s a window with one lower sash that moves and a top sash that doesn’t. This means that while the bottom of the window moves up and down to allow air in, the top remains fixed.

What Are Double-Hung Windows?

Now that you know what single-hung windows are, double-hung windows shouldn’t be hard to figure out. They’re also called double-sash and have two sashes that move up and down. The top sash offers ventilation from the top and the bottom sash from the bottom.

You can also open both at the same time about halfway each to optimize ventilation. Since heat rises, the top sash acts as an exhaust, letting the warm air out of the house. The bottom sash allows the cool air from outside to come in. These types of windows are perfect for multi-story homes as it’s typically harder to keep the upper floors as cool as the bottom.

What Is The Cost Difference Between The Two?

All things equal in terms of features, glass, and materials—single-hung windows typically cost less than double-hung. This is because the cost of production is less due to fewer moving parts and a simple process.

However, a single-hung window could cost more than a double-hung if it’s built from a more expensive material. For example, a vinyl double-hung window will almost always be less expensive than a composite single-hung window.

Factors In Choosing Single-Hung Windows or Double-Hung

At Window Source, we offer both single-hung and double-hung windows even though double-hung is by far the most popular. Our vinyl windows are high-quality and offer outstanding energy efficiency and durability for Houston’s harsh storms and summer heat waves.

That being said, when it comes to choosing which style is better for your situation you should consider these factors.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Our windows can last for decades—if they’re taken care of and cleaned regularly. It’s not a complicated process. Simply spray the glass with a mixture of vinegar and water, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. You also want to wipe down the frames and get any dirt out of the window tracks and clean all the hardware. Each window shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to clean when done weekly.

However, with single-hung windows, the process is a bit more cumbersome. While you can clean the bottom sash inside and out from inside the home by tilting the window in, the top sash isn’t as easy. You can only clean the outside of the top sash from outside your home—usually involving a ladder.

However, with double-hung windows, the top sash can move down as well and be tilted in. So, you can easily clean both from in the house. For many, this is a life-saver as many homeowners have landscaping that might not make windows easy to access.


While either style of window will provide good ventilation for your home, double-hung windows add flexibility and efficiency. With single-hung windows, the airflow only passes through the bottom sash. However, during Houston storms, that can allow rain to blow in. With double-hung, you can ventilate from the top which if you have eaves, prevents the rain from blowing in.

So, just because it’s raining outside, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a 65° breeze when you have double-hung windows. Unfortunately with single-hung windows, you either have to shut the window or be willing to live with water that gets blown in.

Additionally, as we mentioned being able to open the top and bottom on double-hung styles allows for more efficient ventilation. Hot air escapes out of the top sash, while cool air is brought in through the bottom sash.

Energy Efficiency

Both types of windows are designed with energy efficiency in mind, but the frame material plays a major role in efficiency. Our vinyl windows come with multi-chambered frames that help reduce heat movement. This is what helps keep conditioned air from escaping your home via windows as well as allowing outside air in. Both single and double-hung windows are installed with insulating foam around the frame to seal the window.

However, in terms of efficiency, this is the one aspect where single-hung windows have a very slight edge. Since there are fewer moving parts, there are fewer points of vulnerability for outside air to penetrate. Despite that slight difference though, overall, double-hung windows still have a significant advantage.


One of the things you consider no matter what kind of windows you’re considering, is the size of the windows you need. Double-hung windows come in larger sizes if needed, while single-hung windows are limited to traditional sizes.

Some reasons for wanting bigger windows are to increase natural light in the home, increase ventilation, or to achieve the effect of making a room appear larger. If you want to keep costs down a bit, consider a single-hung window as they are slightly less expensive.

How To Know Which To Choose?

Both window styles are suitable options for a wide range of home styles. To make sure you have the right window consider a few things:

  • Is the window going to be hard to reach?
  • Do I need maximum ventilation in this room?
  • Is your home a two-story or more?

You want to keep these things in mind because if a window is over the kitchen sink, for example, you should go single-hung. Why? Because how hard is it going to be to access the top sash to open the window if it’s over the sink up high?

A double-hung window is also going to give you greater flexibility and ease in cleaning the outside of the windows. If you live in a two-story home, this is almost a necessity as you can clean all the windows from inside the house.

Let Window Source Help You With Your Window Decision

We’d love to help you get the right replacement windows for your home. Call us for a free consultation and we’ll go over your options. Contact us now!

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