Understanding the Difference Between Bow and Bay Windows

When you’re designing your new home, or even deciding just how to renovate your living space, windows are a huge part of your consideration process. You not only have choices to make in what type of pane to choose, but in the size and shape of your windows, as well. If you’re a lover of light, you may opt to choose a large window that bows out away from the house, offering a picturesque view of your yard will a little comfy window ledge to sit on. You envision it to be the focal point of your home.

Then your contractor asks you if you would like the feature to be a bay window or a bow window. Huh? Aren’t they the same thing? Certainly not! Here’s why

Starting with the Similarities

Say you’re an Ohio homeowner that is looking to remodel their home. At a passing glance, bay and bow windows look very similar. They both open up a room, letting more light in, allowing the space breathe and adding a touch of character.

Photo via Houzz

Functionally, both styles are comprised of more than one section that fits together as one unit resulting in a framework that protrudes out from the house. That means that cincinnati window installations for each are more complicated—and costly—than traditional flat panels. On the inside, you’re left with an alcove or ledge perfect for sitting in quiet meditation or for displaying your decorating motif.

Bay Windows

Bay windows are limited to 3 panels. The two on the sides come away from the house at an angle and frame a large, wide center window. The angle of projection can vary, even offering the option for a 90 degree box bay window. The center is usually a picture window, while the side windows can be double-hung to open for fresh air and ventilation. The projection usually extends farther from the wall into the exterior space of the home, seemingly adding more floor space than a bow window.

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Photo by Hyatt Design, Inc.

Because there are less panels involved, bay windows typically are less expensive to install than bow windows.

Bow Windows

While bow windows project away from the profile of the house, they typically take up less space than a bay window, which also means a smaller ledge than with a bay window. Four to six panels are used, which creates an elegant, gentle curve to the feature that is usually larger than a bay. This also means it can let more light in than a bay window.

Bow windows can be installed around the corner of a building, wrapping to form a unique turret-type shape.

Photo by ArchMills Doors & Hardware

While either window style can be used to enliven any style of home, bow windows are more commonly found in older homes such as Victorian, and bay windows are seen more frequently in more modern structures.

Knowing the difference between bay and bow style of windows is only half the battle. Now you need to decide which one will work best with your budget and vision of your home.

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