I've seen a lot of windows in the US that open by sliding upwards. I'm from Europe where all windows open sideways by pivoting on hinges.

enter image description here

I was wondering why the reasons are and why they are so common in America but not everywhere else.

  • 4
    This type of window (sash windows) is quite common in the UK.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 13:45
  • 1
    Seems that each design has pretty direct advantages: requiring less space vs. creating a larger opening. Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 14:16
  • Note that sideways opening windows may open either inward or outward. The preference seems to depend on the country.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:05
  • Why is it that U.K. people get rid of sash windows and replace them with nasty top hung windows and yet in the U.S . they don’t. People in the U.K. ruin the appearance of their homes like that. How can someone from the Nederlands not be used to sash windows.?!Look at Amsterdam: there are loads there. You also find them in Portugal but they are as bad as people in the U.K. and get rid of them. Nick Blake
    – Nick Blake
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


This is actually a "topic" in architecture, and seems to have more to do with usability. Its origins are unclear and ripe with unproven theories. It was adopted by the British, Americans and the Dutch.

Some reasons that might indicate why Sash windows are more popular:

For instance, the opening of the window can be finely adjusted, down to a narrow gap at the top or the bottom or both, giving good control of ventilation with little danger of rain blowing into the room. A 'French' window or inward opening casement is very vulnerable in this respect, and would be quite unsuited to British weather. The sash, being hung from each of its top corners, rather than from the side as with a hinged window, is less likely to distort under its own weight. This has several consequences. Less distortion means longer life: there are many sash windows still serviceable after 150 years or more. Imagine a 150-year-old plastic window! Casement windows need wider components for stiffness.

Further to the above, ventilation is superb with a sash window. Hot air in a room rises; this creates lower pressure towards floor level drawing in fresh air from outside through the bottom of the sash, and the hot air is pushed out of the top of the sash. Even with just a tiny bit open top and bottom, you can get naturally-powered ventilation, without a gale rushing through the room, or even creating a noticeable draught. And you can lock them slightly open very easily, so you get burglar-proof ventilation.

  1. Who invented the sash window and what are its virtues? Why did builders not adopt the inward-opening French window, which is simpler and more easily cleaned?
  2. The Origin of the Sash Window
  3. Sash Window
  • 1
    To add to the ventilation, the Sash style windows allow you mount an A/C unit which could have made it more popular in larger US cities where multi-story apartment complexes in the past (and probably still) would not have central air.
    – DasBeasto
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 19:17
  • Adopted by the Dutch? I'm Dutch but I had not seen upward sliding windows until I visited the USA. Maybe adopted but then abandoned in favour of other designs?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:07
  • I don't understand why the quote mentions plastic. What does the material of the frame have to do with how it opens?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.