The Differences Between Bay & Bow Windows, Explained

If you’re planning to replace a window in a large window opening, you may find yourself considering both bay and bow windows. These two window types have a lot in common, and both have a lot to recommend them. But these two window styles also have more differences than most homeowners realize; only after you understand these differences will you know if a bay or a bow window is a better fit for you and your home.

First, let’s look at the similarities. Both bay and bow windows are large, and are made even more so by extending outward from the home. Both visually expand interior space, and both create additional, usable interior space; this space can be used for storage or as an inviting, window-side nook for reading or relaxing. By extending outward, bay and bow windows also provide more light and wider views.

While both windows look similar at first glance, bay windows are simpler in design than their counterparts. Bay windows are a set of three windows grouped together; bow windows include a set of at least four, and often five or six windows together. Renewal by Andersen of Central NC features a nice selection of both types of windows.

Bay windows feature a large, central window that runs parallel to the walls of the home; this large window is flanked by two smaller ones, which extend outward from the house, usually at angles of 30 or 45 degrees. The large window will be a fixed picture window; the two flanking windows may be able to open. Thanks to their angular appearance, bay windows are often paired with more contemporary homes.

Bow windows are composed of smaller windows of the same size. These windows curve away from the home in angles that vary, depending on the design; the more windows that compose the bow, the smaller and softer the angle. Generally speaking, bow windows don’t extend as far from the home as bay windows. All of these qualities grant bow windows a more graceful and symmetrical appearance than their counterparts; this appearance is a great fit for both modern and Victorian homes.

These differences in design can often dictate which window is the best choice for you. Because bay windows are composed of only three windows, they can be accommodated by narrower window openings; bow windows, that include as many as six windows, require wider openings. On the other hand, bow windows, which do not extend as far out as bay windows, may be tied into houses with shallower overhangs.

These differences in design also yield a difference in price. As bow windows include a larger set of windows, it isn’t surprising that they’re the more expensive option; their elegantly-curved construction also requires a higher degree of craftsmanship, which also contributes to additional cost.

That said, both bay and bow windows can become focal points of your home’s interior and exterior. Both types of windows can expand your view, add natural light, and open up spaces. But chances are, one’s a smarter choice for you. Which one is it? Hopefully now you’re well on your way to the answer, and to finding the perfect window for your home.

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