There are different types of windows that homeowners can choose from. Some of the more popular ones are casement windows and double-hung windows.
Although each type of window has its uses, one often overlooked aspect is its safety. More importantly, are they equally safe or one is safer than the other.
Are casement windows safer than double-hung windows? Casement windows are one of the safest types of windows. Casement windows are significantly safer than double-hung windows as they are harder to manipulate from the outside. Double-hung windows compared to casement windows are not as safe as they have several weak points that burglars can use to gain entry.
Casement and double-hung windows are very different in how they are designed and how they work.
Below I go into more detail about their strong and weak points.
By the end of the article, you will have a good idea about how safe or, alternatively, unsafe these types of windows are.
Are Casement Windows Safe?
Casement windows open horizontally like a door and can swing in or out. That being said, casement windows that swing up or down can also be found.
Usually, casement windows have two window sashes that are attached with hinges and share the same frame. Casement windows can be held open in a particular position with a casement stay—which is a small adjustable metal bar that is installed on the windows.
Casement windows are made from different materials like wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad wood, and other composite materials.
Casement windows are considered one of the safest types of windows when it comes to burglaries. Casement windows are nearly impossible to open from the outside, even when using tools. The windows usually close securely and tightly when properly closed and locked or latched.
They will either have a lock or an opening mechanism. Locks (and child locks) can be purchased and mounted on casement windows that do not already have one.
And the opening mechanisms can be removed, making casement windows extremely difficult to open from the outside and inside. This is useful if you have small children and worry they may open the windows or fall out.
Can Casement Windows Be Unsafe?
Casement windows are among the safest types of windows out there. They provide excellent levels of security at no additional costs to the homeowner. However, casement windows that are in poor condition may pose a security risk and should be either replaced or repaired.
Unless there is some kind of structural weakness or parts of the windows have been damaged in some way, the only way a burglar can open a locked casement window from the outside is by breaking it.
Casement windows seem like an excellent option, but some of you may be wondering, “Can somebody break into casement windows?”
Yes, a determined burglar can break into casement windows. Breaking into casement windows will usually involve breaking the windows, which is noisy, dangerous, and can attract unwanted attention.
Since there is no easy way to pry open or lift and remove the casement windows, the only thing burglars can do is break the window. Since most windows are fairly small and there is also the danger of cutting themselves on the broken glass, usually burglars will attempt to access the locking mechanism and handle in order to open the window.
That being said, if the window’s handle and locking latch have been removed, the only thing the burglar can do is try to crawl through the window. This can be very dangerous because of the broken glass, and most thieves will completely avoid doing it.
This is why the quality of the hardware used and its placement is also important. On older casement windows, the locking latch may be easier to access, and the latch may have only one locking arm.
A single locking arm is considered a security risk as some models may be opened by a strong and precise blow from the outside. On the other hand, modern casement windows can have a multi-point locking mechanism making them a lot safer.
A few words should be said about internally and externally beaded windows.
In the past, externally beaded windows were considered less secure as the beading and glazing could be removed from the outside. However, this is not the case with most modern externally beaded windows, which are designed in a different, more secure, way and are believed to pose no security risks.
Are Double Hung Windows Safe?
Double-hung windows have two sashes that can slide up and down. This allows owners to operate the lower, upper, or both sashes at the same time.
They can be made from wood, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, vinyl (PVC, uPVC, which is also known as PVCu), vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad wood, and composite materials.
Double-hung windows have many advantages, but safety is, arguably, not one of them. Because of their design, double-hung windows are not as safe as casement windows.
There are several weak points that can be abused by an experienced burglar in order to break into one’s property without even breaking the glass. This makes the double-hung window design less safe and secure.
Can Double Hung Windows Be Unsafe?
One of the problems with double-hung windows is that a pry bar can be inserted between the lower and upper window sashes. By applying enough pressure, it is possible to pry the windows open, allowing the burglar to gain entry to the property.
Another way burglars may try to break in through double-hung windows is by simply pushing against the lower window. Many double-hung windows have a latch that keeps the lower sash from opening. By pushing in on the window from the outside, a burglar can apply enough pressure to break the lock and open the window. They will be able to open the window the same way when you clean it without breaking the glass.
Double-hung windows also normally have spring mechanisms that are responsible for keeping the sashes in one place (after raising or lowering them). Over time the spring mechanisms can lose their strength resulting in the windows slipping down.
The latch can also cause problems as it can stop working properly due to natural wear and tear.
All those problems can be abused by a burglar who can simply grab the upper sash and pull down on it.
Overall, double-hung windows are less secure and normally require more maintenance than casement windows.
Are Casement or Double Hung Windows Safer in an Emergency?
Although we have focused on safety in terms of preventing break-ins, it is worth noting that windows should also allow the occupants to easily escape in the case of an emergency. (For example, if a fire broke out.)
Casement windows offer one of the best effective open areas, which is about twice as much as that of double-hung windows.
This is significant for several reasons.
Since you can open nearly the entire window, this allows you to easily escape in the case of an emergency—on the other hand, escaping through a double hung window may prove a lot harder and trickier.
Although this makes casement windows safer in a certain way, it also makes them dangerous for small kids, which could fall out the window if left wide open.
In comparison, you can keep the bottom portion of a double-hung window closed and the top portion opened, which will allow for some air movement while preventing a kid from easily falling out.
How to Make Casement and Double-Hung Windows Safer?
Regardless of what type of windows you have or plan to switch to, the type is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to home security.
Ideally, you want to get the type of windows that are the most secure but on their own windows cannot provide enough protection to be a good deterrent.
The glass is the weakest point, and a burglar can always break it regardless of what type of window frame or design you have. A determined burglar can always find a way in if they have the right tools and enough time.
However, our job as homeowners or renters is to make that task as difficult for the burglar as possible, as this is the best way to deter break-ins.
You can make a double-hung window or a casement window safer by incorporating a few different security layers. These involve but are not limited to:
- Switching to tempered or laminated glass.
- Installing a home security system.
- Installing security cameras.
- Using motion-detecting sensors.
- Using window (magnet) sensors.
- Using glass break detectors.
- Applying security window films.
- Utilizing window security bars.
Of course, all the security systems and measures will prove ineffective if windows are left open when nobody is around. Ensure that all windows are tightly closed and locked before you leave your home (even if you are going to your backyard).