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What Are Double Hung Windows?

This is a close look at a home with double hung windows.

Double-hung windows just sound like a lot more work than single-hung windows. After all, why the heck would you need to hang windows twice? Lots of people don’t know the difference between these two window types and can’t tell you exactly what double-hung windows are.

The first thing you should know is that double-hung windows are really all about the frames. There’s a lot more to know about this popular window type. When you’re looking at windows for your home, are double-hung windows the right choice for you?

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The Parts of a Window

If you want to understand what double-hung windows are and why they’re different from single-hung windows, it helps a whole lot if you understand window terminology. When you hear about windows being “hung,” this word refers to the number of operable sashes the window has. The sash is the part of the window that holds that glass in place. The sash is inside the window frame itself.

Both single- and double-hung windows have two sashes, an upper and a lower. However, the upper sash is operable in double-hung windows. This just means the sash can move. You can lower it or raise it to open and close the window. That may seem like a small difference, but this actually does have an impact.

The Difference in Double-Hung and Single-Hung

This is a close look at a house with double hung windows that are side by side.

Double-hung windows clearly provide more ventilation than single-hung varieties. This makes it easier to clean double-hung windows because they can be tilted inward or outward. You can clean your windows completely from inside the house, which does make things a lot easier.

Single-hung windows can only move vertically, or up and down. Double-hung windows can be tiled, which gives you more airflow. This makes it much easier to cool off your home in the heat but it also makes it easier to ventilate your rooms if there’s smoke inside the house, a bad smell, or fumes that aren’t safe for you to breathe.

There’s another reason why you may want to choose double-hung windows: they’re easier to repair. A lot of people wonder if double-hung windows can be repaired. They’re actually easier to repair than single-hung windows, so much so that homeowners can do some repairs on double-hung windows themselves. Homeowners can replace the entire upper sash of a double-hung window if one of the panes break, rather than calling a professional to come out and repair it. This is a pretty big advantage.

One of the biggest advantages of double-hung windows is safety. If you have small children or pets, they may be able to climb up and get out of the lower sash of a window. If you have a double-hung window, you can open just the top sash and keep them safe because this top part of the window is out of their reach. Safety is always an important feature.

Double-hung windows are more expensive. They cost $400 to $600 per window, on average. Single-hung windows, by comparison, cost $75 to $100 per window. This means double-hung windows are also more expensive to repair. Replacement parts cost two to three times more for double-hung windows, compared to single-hung.

Double-Hung Window Style

A house with double hung windows adorned by a planter and shutters.

If you’re trying to match the architecture of your home, double-hung windows may be the right choice. This style is frequently seen in Craftsman homes and Victorian-style houses. Many historic styles were built with double-hung windows so if you’re trying to maintain a historic or traditional look, these windows should definitely be near the top of your list of choices.

There’s a good reason that double-hung windows are seen in historic architecture: they’re historic. Double-hung windows date to the 17th century, when the vertical sliding sash design was created.

Before this, single-hung windows had a fixed top sash and a moveable bottom sash that could be removed with pins. The vertical sliding sash made double-hung windows possible and became the forerunner of modern window design. Double-hung windows became the look of choice in Georgian architecture of the 1700s.

Living with Double-Hung Windows

You can find double-hung windows in a huge variety of styles and sizes. Like single-hung windows, they’re made in a variety of materials, including wood, and can be purchased in a big variety of frame colors. However, it’s not all roses. There are some disadvantages to having double-hung windows, compared to other styles.

Double-hung windows have multiple moving parts. That means there’s more opportunity for things to go wrong. Over time, windows become loose and begin to provide less weather protection. Double-hung windows can’t easily be re-sealed with caulk because both the top and bottom sashes move, so there’s no quick fix for this problem.

How to Operate Double-Hung Windows

A pair of colorful double hung windows contrasted by the bright snow outside.

When you want to open your windows for cleaning or any other reason, you may struggle a little the first few times. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll have no trouble opening your windows.

Turn the lock near the middle of the window at the top of the bottom sash. Slide the lower sash upward about three inches. There will be two tilt latches. Squeeze and hold these latches. Slowly, pull the sash toward you to turn it to a horizontal position. Release the latches only when the sash is in position. Now, slide the upper sash down two inches. Squeeze the tilt latches on this sash and pull the sash toward you just as you did with the lower sash.

Where to Buy Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are a very common window style. You can find double-hung window styles anywhere that windows are sold because this is one of the more popular, sought-after choices available on the market. Take the time to shop around and look at your choices when you’re picking new windows because you’re going to be living with the choice for a long, long while.

Many people enjoy their double-hung windows because they’re so easy to clean, they’re safer and they look amazing. Now that you know all about this window type, you may decide that double-hung windows are just perfect for you.