Casement or Double-Hung Windows For Your Home

Double Hung Windows 157082588
Double Hung Windows. Getty / Paul Viant

Deciding whether to install casement windows or double-hung windows is like deciding between a 4 wheel drive truck and a sleek sedan--both are good, but for vastly different reasons.  In fact, once you understand the differences between the two windows, your decision should be easy.

What Is It?

  • Double Hung:  A window that has an upper and a lower sash.  Usually, the upper sash (i.e., window pane unit) stays in place, while the lower sash slides up and down.  If needed, the upper sash can be moved up and down, as well.
  • Casement:  A window that opens a door.  A crank on the house interior opens and closes the casement window.

Style

  • Double Hung:  Double hung windows indicate a traditional, classic style.  They work well with older cottage-style houses or with new houses that want that look.  
  • Casement:  Casements impart a contemporary style and work well with modern or ranch-style homes.

Mechanical Failure

  • Double Hung:  Double hung windows have a lower failure rate than casements because there are fewer mechanical parts that can go wrong.  "Dropped windows" is common with double hung windows, a condition where the lower sash refuses to stay up.  This can usually be fixed by the homeowner.
  • Casement:  Casement windows are prone to mechanical failure waiting to happen.  The crank unit is usually the first mechanical part to fail.  Even if casement windows do not all of a sudden stop working, they will slowly loosen over time so that you get more air seepage into your house. 

    Tightness and Preventing Air Intrusion

    • Double Hung:   The bottom and two sides of the double-hung window fit snugly in the side tracks.  The only part that will allow for air seepage is along the top, but good seals can limit this.
    • Casement:  Casements do a superior job of limiting air intrusion in your home.  The reason is because the window sash presses straight onto all four sides of the window frame and its seals, just like an exterior door fitting into its door frame. 

      Ease of Use

      • Double Hung:  As long as you have close access, the double hung window is fairly easy to operate.  A spring-loaded balance aids in lifting the window, and gravity helps you close it.  But if you have to stretch to reach the window, it can be exceedingly difficult to operate.
      • Casement:  Easy to open and close.  Turning the crank and operating the lock (a lever) is easier than pushing a sash up and down.  One downside is that it can be time-consuming to open and close a large number of casements at once.

      Notable Problems

      • Double Hung:  Even though most double hung windows today have "swing in" style sashes, they are still more difficult to clean (the outside) than casements.
      • Casement:  Normal window unit air conditioners do not fit in casement (and slider) windows.  More expensive specialty units are required.

      Cost

      • Double Hung:  Since double hung windows are so readily available, they will be cheaper than casements.
      • Casement:  Casement windows are at least 10% more expensive than double hung windows.