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What Are Single-Hung Windows?

May 31st, 2024 | 7 min. read

What Are Single-Hung Windows?

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If you want to replace or add windows to your home, single hung windows are a popular choice. But are they the right fit for every room in your house?

In this article, we'll talk about the benefits and drawbacks of single hung windows. How do they compare to double hung windows, and what should you keep in mind when choosing between the two? 

Table of Contents

What Are Single Hung Windows?


Single hung windows have two vertical sashes, with the upper sash fixed in place and the lower sash movable.

Single hung windows are commonly made of wood, vinyl, and aluminum. 

  • Wood: Provides a classic, traditional look and excellent insulation properties but requires regular maintenance to prevent rot and decay.
  • Vinyl: Known for its durability, low maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. Vinyl windows are also energy-efficient due to their excellent insulating properties.
  • Aluminum: Offers a sleek, modern appearance and is highly durable. However, aluminum is less energy-efficient compared to wood and vinyl due to its high thermal conductivity.

Energy Efficiency

One of the standout features of single hung windows is their energy efficiency. The fixed upper sash means fewer moving parts, which translates to fewer potential points for air leaks. This design inherently provides better insulation compared to windows with multiple movable sashes. The multi-chambered frames often found in vinyl single hung windows further enhance their insulating properties, reducing heat transfer and improving energy efficiency

Pros of Single Hung Windows

Single hung windows offer several advantages that make them a popular choice:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: One of the most significant benefits is their affordability. Single hung windows are generally less expensive to purchase and install compared to double hung windows. This cost-effectiveness extends to long-term maintenance, as the simpler design requires fewer repairs.
  • Energy Efficiency: The fixed upper sash and fewer moving parts contribute to better insulation, reducing air leaks and improving overall energy efficiency. This can lead to lower heating and cooling costs.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Single hung windows have a traditional look that complements many home styles, particularly those with a classic or historical design.
  • Low Maintenance: The simplicity of the design means there are fewer components that can wear out or require repair, making single hung windows a low-maintenance option.

Cons of Single Hung Windows

Despite their many benefits, single hung windows also have some drawbacks:

  • Limited Ventilation: Since only the bottom sash is movable, the amount of ventilation is restricted compared to double hung windows, which allow both sashes to open.
  • Cleaning Challenges: Cleaning the outside of the fixed upper sash can be difficult, especially on upper floors, since it doesn't fold in (unlike the bottom sash, which does, as you can see in the photo below). This often requires the use of ladders or professional cleaning services.


Best Places for Single Hung Windows

Single hung windows are versatile and can be used in various parts of the home. They are particularly well-suited for:

  • Bedrooms and Living Rooms: Their traditional aesthetic and functional design make them an excellent fit for these areas. The fixed upper sash provides a clear view, while the movable lower sash allows for adequate ventilation.
  • Ground Floor Installations: On the ground floor, cleaning the exterior of the fixed upper sash is less of a challenge, making single hung windows a practical choice.


In multi-story homes, the cleaning and maintenance of single hung windows can be more challenging. The fixed upper sash on upper floors can require ladders or professional cleaning. 

Single Hung vs. Double Hung Windows


Cost Comparison

Single hung windows are typically more affordable than double-hung windows, both in terms of initial purchase and installation. In fact, single hung windows can cost up to 75% less to buy and install than double hung windows. This can translate into a lot of savings if you're buying multiple windows. 

Functional Differences

The primary functional difference between single hung and double hung windows lies in their ventilation capabilities. Double hung windows offer improved airflow because both sashes can be opened. This allows for better natural cooling and ventilation, which can be particularly beneficial in areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Double hung windows are also easier to clean, as both sashes can tilt inward, allowing for easy access to the outside of the upper sash from inside the home.


Double hung windows may be safer than single hung, particularly if you have young children and pets. The ability to open the upper sash while keeping the lower sash closed can prevent accidental falls.

For complete discussion of single-hung vs double-hung windows, click here.

Related: 15 Types of Windows for Your Home

Choosing Single Hung Windows: Considerations

When deciding between single hung and double hung windows, it's essential to assess your specific needs and priorities:

  • Budget Constraints: If budget is a primary concern, single hung windows offer a cost-effective solution. Their lower initial cost and reduced long-term maintenance expenses make them an attractive option for budget-conscious homeowners.
  • Ventilation and Air Quality: For areas where ventilation is crucial, such as kitchens and bathrooms, double hung windows may be the better choice due to their superior airflow capabilities.
  • Maintenance Preferences: If ease of cleaning is a priority, particularly for upper floors, double hung windows provide a practical advantage with their tilt-in sashes.

Replacing Your Windows?

Single hung windows offer a blend of traditional aesthetics and modern functionality, making them a popular choice for many homeowners. However, it's essential to consider their limitations in ventilation and cleaning, especially for multi-story homes.

If you need to replace your windows (or add new windows to an existing wall), reach out to Southwest Exteriors for a free consultation.