The Difference Between Bay and Bow Windows

By: Architectural Visions

Bay and bow windows are two of the most beautiful types of windows that you can add to your home. They have the power to expand a living space without actually adding any more square footage. While similar in style, each of these window types has unique qualities and distinct considerations to keep in mind.

Here is an overview of the difference between bay and bow windows to help you choose the best option for your home.

What Is a Bay Window?

Bay windows are made up of three windows where the center window is typically larger and stationary, while the side windows are smaller and might open up. Bay windows have angled projections that protrude farther out from the wall. They are usually narrower than bow windows and provide a nice sitting space in your room.

What Is a Bow Window?

In contrast, a bow window typically has more than three windows, often four or five, which are connected in a gentle arc shape. Some bow windows feature as many as six windows. Bow windows give a rounded look to your home with their curved structure. They also provide extra seating in your room and perhaps even extra storage space if you add a bench seat with a hidden compartment underneath.

Design Aesthetics of a Bay Window

We love bay windows for rooms where you want to accentuate your interior view and spend more time indoors looking at the view outside. Bay windows are often considered to be more modern than bow windows, although they are versatile enough to work with nearly any home style. You can add more dimension to your room when you upgrade from a flat window to a bay window, while also improving ventilation and airflow.

Design Aesthetics of a Bow Window

From a design perspective, bow windows are great for letting more light into your home and making the exterior look more stunning. They have more glass panes than bay windows to let more sunlight inside. Victorian-style homes often have bow windows, and these windows work very well in classic and historic homes. Bow windows also give you the benefit of creating an interior nook and being able to see out from two sides of your home at the same time. Bow configurations can feature an awning, casement, or double-hung windows, so there is some versatility in the functionality and style here.

Energy Efficiency of Bay Windows

New bay windows can be very energy efficient if you choose Energy Star-certified models that won’t leak air. Bay windows also allow for ventilation through the two smaller side windows, which can be nice on pleasant days to let fresh air inside rather than paying for air conditioning. However, bay windows do not allow as much natural light into the room as bow windows, so they may not be quite as effective for warming up a cold room on a sunny winter day.

Energy Efficiency of Bow Windows

Bow windows are also energy-efficient window choices if you are looking to save money on your heating and cooling bills. They are great for letting light and warmth into your home to warm up rooms on cold days. However, they do not typically open to provide extra ventilation in your room. Bow windows are typically best in living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens – places in a home where more sunlight is desired.

Installation for Bay Windows

Bay windows come in many different styles, shapes, and sizes, and these are versatile windows that are typically straightforward to install. However, this installation job is still considerably more complex than installing a flat window. For both types of these windows, you may need to enlarge and reframe your window opening and provide for the extra window weight. Bay windows can be supported with a cable from above or a platform below. Depending on the structure of your home, a new bay window may require a small roof above it as well.

Installation of Bow Windows

As a general rule, bow windows are more costly and complicated to install, which is why this is a job best left to the professional window installers. AVI’s Marvin-authorized and factory-trained window installers take this job off your hands, and we stand by our craftsmanship with a 10-year installation warranty. This is good to know for large and heavy bow windows that pose installation challenges and risks for anyone except an experienced professional.

Maintenance for Bay Windows

To care for the wood frame of your bay window, you can clean it with a mixture of mild liquid detergent and warm water. It is especially important to care for this wood in coastal areas and after rainy seasons because moisture and wind have a way of weathering wood. If you have bay windows that open up, in addition to frame integrity, you’ll also want to periodically check your bow window’s hinges on the casement windows to ensure good lubrication. This will protect from squeaking and rust so that you can open up your windows on nice days in the spring and fall.

Maintenance for Bow Windows

Bow windows require a little more maintenance than bay windows because there are more windows and a larger window surface area to clean. However, cleaning them is pretty easy because they do not typically have dividers to work around. Occasionally, you’ll also want to check the bow window frame to make sure it is not at risk of cracking or breaking due to a structural problem. The same wood recommendations mentioned above for bay windows also apply to bow windows to keep your frames looking good both inside and out.

Cost of a Bay Window

Bay windows are a more economical choice than bow windows because they have fewer window panes and are easier to make and install. Costs also vary based upon the size of the glass panes you choose. AVI has many different sizes to choose from, including very large bay and bow windows. However, bay windows are very attractive to potential home buyers, so you may increase the value of your home and receive better sale offers when you are looking to move in the future.

Cost of a Bow Window

Bow windows can cost twice the price or more of bay windows, so this is a window style you may need to budget for. Depending on where your new window is placed, it may be necessary to have a small roof constructed over the top of your new window, which will add to the installation cost. AVI offers free in-home consultations to homeowners who are interested in adding a bay or bow window to their home.

Where to Find the Best Bay Windows and Bow Windows

Both bay and bow windows make any room more enjoyable to spend time in and instantly boost the curb appeal of your home. At AVI Windows & Doors, we are proud to provide bay and bow windows for our customers in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Contact us today to ask for expert advice about which windows we offer will work best in your space, or check out our residential photo gallery for some inspiration and ideas for decorating with bay and bow windows.