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What is a Double-Hung Window and How Do They Work?

What is a double-hung window?

Have you ever struggled to open a window, only to have it drop shut minutes later? Or perhaps you’ve wrestled with a window that refuses to stay open at all. If you’re tired of fighting with your windows or just looking for a change, it might be time to consider a classic and versatile option – the double-hung window.

In this post, we’ll define double-hung windows, highlight their benefits and drawbacks, as well as touch on cost considerations and maintenance. By the end of this article, you’ll have a thorough understanding of whether double-hung windows are the right choice for your home.

Anatomy of a Double-Hung Window

A double-hung window features two operable sashes (the part of the window that holds the glass) within a single frame. The sashes sit one above the other and slide vertically to open and close. This design allows for both the upper and lower sashes to open, providing flexibility in ventilation.

The window frame, which surrounds the sashes, is typically made of wood, vinyl, or fiberglass. These materials offer stability, insulation, and protection from the elements. The sashes fit snugly into the frame and a balance system holds them in place. This consists of springs or weights that counterbalance the weight of the sashes. This allows the sashes to remain open at any desired position without slamming shut.

Muntins and grilles are decorative elements that divide the glass into smaller panes. These pieces give the window a traditional or architectural look. They can be either real (true divided lites) or simulated (applied to the surface of the glass).

Weatherstripping is used around the edges of the sashes to create a tight seal when the window is closed, preventing drafts and increasing energy efficiency. Hardware, such as locks and handles, is installed on the sashes to provide added security and ease of operation.

Visual distinction between single hung, double hung, and decorative double hung windows.

Benefits of Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows offer several advantages that make them a popular choice among homeowners:

  • Versatile ventilation: With both upper and lower sashes operable, you can control the airflow in your home more effectively. Open the bottom sash for cool air intake and the top sash for warm air exhaust, creating a natural circulation that improves indoor air quality and comfort.
  • Energy efficiency: Many modern double-hung windows feature energy-saving technologies, such as low-E coatings, insulating glass, and tight weatherstripping. These features help reduce heat transfer, minimize drafts, and keep your home more comfortable while potentially lowering your energy bills.
  • Classic aesthetic: Double-hung windows have a timeless, traditional appearance that complements a wide range of architectural styles, from historic homes to modern buildings. The versatility of their design makes them a smart choice for both new construction and replacement projects.
  • Easy maintenance: The tilt-in feature found on many double-hung windows allows you to clean both the interior and exterior of the sashes from inside your home, making maintenance a breeze. This is especially convenient for second-story windows or hard-to-reach areas.

Drawbacks of Double-Hung Windows

Despite their numerous benefits, double-hung windows do have some potential drawbacks:

  • Air leakage: If not properly installed or maintained, the sliding sashes may allow some air infiltration, reducing energy efficiency. This is more likely to occur with older or lower-quality windows.
  • Limited opening size: Compared to other window styles, such as casement or sliding windows, double-hung windows have a smaller opening area. This may restrict the amount of ventilation and make them less suitable for emergency egress in certain rooms, such as bedrooms.
  • Maintenance requirements: While upkeep is pretty simple, these windows require periodic maintenance to keep operating smoothly. This includes cleaning, lubricating, and adjusting the sashes, as well as replacing weatherstripping and hardware as needed.

Cost Considerations

When budgeting for double-hung windows, it’s essential to consider both the upfront costs and the long-term value of your investment. The price tag can vary widely based on material, size, style, and glass package.

Vinyl is typically the most affordable, while wood and fiberglass are pricier but offer greater durability and aesthetic appeal. Custom sizes and designs, as well as upgrades like energy-efficient glass, will affect the price. Also, factor in installation costs, as professional fitting is essential for performance and warranty coverage.

The approximate cost to replace or install a double-hung ranges from $400 to $900 per window, with the national average being around $610 per window. High-end materials and customizations will most times increase the price, also. Investing in quality and energy efficiency can provide long-term savings and add value to your home!

Double-hung windows need similar regular maintenance to other window types.

Recommended Maintenance

To keep your double-hung windows functioning smoothly, regular maintenance is essential. Clean the glass, sashes, and frames periodically using mild soap and water, and avoid abrasive cleaners that may damage the finish.

Additionally, lubricate the moving parts, such as the sash tracks and balance system, with a silicone-based lubricant to prevent sticking and ensure smooth operation. Inspect the windows annually for signs of wear, damage, or drafts, and address any issues promptly. Replace worn weatherstripping and caulking as needed to maintain a tight seal, and tighten or replace loose or damaged hardware.

When to Call a Professional

While basic double-hung window maintenance can be solo tasks, certain situations require the expertise of a professional.

  • Installation: If you are installing new double-hung windows or replacing existing ones, it’s wise to hire a professional installer. They will ensure proper fit, sealing, and operation, as well as compliance with local building codes and manufacturer warranties.
  • Major repairs: If you notice severe window damage, such as cracked glass, rotting wood, or bent frames, a professional repair or replacement may be necessary. Attempting to fix these issues yourself could lead to further damage or void your warranty.
  • Persistent drafts or leaks: If you experience ongoing air leakage or water infiltration around your double-hung windows, despite your best efforts to seal and weatherstrip them, a professional can help diagnose and resolve the underlying issues.


To wrap up, double-hung windows offer a combination of classic style, versatility, and energy efficiency, making them a popular choice for many homeowners.

Regular maintenance and timely repairs will help extend the life of your double-hung windows and ensure optimal performance. If you have any doubts or concerns, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional. The experts at Ace Preferred Inspections are happy to schedule an in-depth look at your existing windows and answer questions in Charleston, SC, and surrounding areas.