What’s the Difference?
I hear it all of the time, “What’s is the difference between a double-hung window and a single-hung window?” It’s a great question with a very simple explanation. First and foremost, this description only applies to windows that open vertically as opposed to other window types such as horizontal sliding windows or casement and awning windows which are hinged.
If both of the panels (referred to as sashes) move, it’s a double-hung; if only one sash operates it’s a single-hung. Simple right? Now that we know what they are, we need to discuss why they are. Let’s start by going in-depth on the double-hung windows.
Why Double-Hung Vinyl?
So why would you opt for double-hung vinyl windows with tilting sashes? One of the reasons you’re most likely to hear is the “ease of cleaning” because you are able to tilt the sashes in and clean the outside of the window from inside of your home. So while technically true, is it something that you’re really going to do very often? Besides, that benefit comes with a cost.
You see, in order to allow the sash to tilt the way it does it must be able to clear the frame, unlike a non-tilting sash that rides inside of the window frame in a “U”-shaped groove. Having the bottom sash nestled within that groove allows the window to perform much better against the elements, especially when it comes to differences in air pressure. In fact, the non-tilting sash will actually perform better in the wind because the sash gets pressed against the frame creating a tighter seal.
Another benefit of double-hung windows is the flexibility that they allow when it comes to opening the window. If you want to open a window but you have small children or pets that you’re worried about, you can open the top sash and leave the bottom closed. Or you can open both to create some airflow by allowing the warm air to escape through the top of the window and pull in cooler air from the bottom.
The real advantage of double-hung replacement windows has nothing to do with cleaning or efficiency and everything to do with weight. That’s right, weight. You see, tilting sashes are also made to be easily removed. As an installer, if you need to lift a large window into a difficult to reach spot it’s much easier, and safer, to remove the sashes and lift the relatively light frame into place. Once the frame is set the sashes can be quickly put back in.
Double-Hung Wood Windows
Things are a bit different when it comes to a double-hung wood window. It’s all about serviceability. The sashes of a wood window are built around the glass to create a single, cohesive, unit. Should the glass ever get broken the entire sash needs to be replaced so, clearly, it needs to be something that is easily removed. With vinyl windows, the glass is held in place with glass stops, or glazing bead, with can be removed allowing a new glass unit to be inserted without the need of a modular sash.
Single-Hung Window Performance
There is a principle in mechanics and design that states “the simpler, the better” and it applies when it comes to windows, especially if you value efficiency. For the most efficient window possible, nothing beats a picture window. After all, it’s a fixed piece of glass, secured and sealed in a frame; with no moving parts or joints to allow leakage. But it sure would be nice to have an operating window that you can actually open. Right? (Not to mention that the Fire Marshall insists that you do in a bedroom application.)
Additionally the non-tilting sash allows for a much narrower frame. The low-profile frame means more of what you really want in a window, glass. Considering that tilting sashes cost more than non-tilting and you actually end up paying less to get more window.
Granted, you can still get a single-hung with a tilting sash but for the sake of comparison, we’re talking about a non-tilting sash. This gives you the functionality of a window that you can open for some fresh air while still providing robust performance when it comes to energy efficiency. Add some Low-E glass coatings and you’ve got a window that will make your home more efficient, functional, and beautiful.
Which Is Better For You?
Well, it all depends on you. Your project. Your goals. Your preferences. There’s no right, or wrong, answer which is why you need an Expert. At Houston Window Experts we take pride in our approach, something we call the “Three P’s”. It’s our People, our Products, and our Process that make us different. We will meet with you and find out what your goals are and provide you with information to make an informed decision. So, give us a call or fill out the contact form and we can guide you through the most delightful home improvement experience you’ve ever had!