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What are Single-Hung Windows?

Expert Overview

  1. Single-hung windows are the most classic type of residential window in America.
  2. Single-hung windows only open from the bottom.
  3. Homeowners who have older homes and want to preserve authenticity often opt for single-hung windows.

The timeless beauty and simple design of single-hung windows makes them the preferred style of window in homes across the United States.

In fact, single-hung windows are the most classic form of residential window, because they were the type of window used in homes before the advent of double-hung windows. Though homeowners can now choose between single-hung and double-hung (we’ll explain the difference in a moment), single-hung windows are still an excellent option for many types of homes and purposes.

What does “single-hung” mean?

A window is single-hung when it only has a single way to open it—from the bottom.

At first glance, it can be difficult to tell the difference between single- and double-hung windows. In shape and character, they are very similar.

Like double-hung windows, single-hung windows have an upper sash and a lower sash. (The sash is the part of the window that surrounds the glass and holds the glass in place in the window frame.) But with single-hung windows, only the bottom sash has a moveable track, while the upper sash is fixed and doesn’t move. It’s a bit similar to a “faux” drawer panel on a dresser that looks like a drawer, but doesn’t open.

This means that you can only open a single-hung window from the bottom. At their most open position, single-hung windows can only be opened about half way.

An interesting feature of single-hung windows is that the upper sash may mirror the look of the lower sash. Or, it can take on a different shape altogether. For example, upper sashes on single-hung windows may be arched or pointed.

Pros and cons of single-hung windows


  • Few air leaks. Single-hung windows fit more snugly in their frames and typically have fewer air leaks.
  • Unique shape. Because the upper sash of single-hung windows can't be moved in the track, the upper sash of a single-hung window can be different shapes, like arched or pointed.
  • Popularity. Single-hung windows are the most popular and common type of window in residences in the United States.
  • Lower price point than double-hung. Single-hung windows are less functional, but their simplicity allows for a lower cost.
  • More historically accurate. Single-hung windows are the window of choice for older homes, to retain authenticity.


  • Difficult to repair. The upper sash cannot be removed if it breaks. This means that a window glazier must be called to fix the glass in the upper sash of a single-hung window.
  • Fewer ventilation options. With only one moving sash, homeowners have fewer options for ventilating their home.
  • More difficult to clean. Cleaning a single-hung window from the outside can be a challenge, especially if the window is on the top floor of the home.

Wondering how single-hung and double-hung windows are different? Learn more about double-hung windows.

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