Bay vs Bow Windows: What’s the Difference?

Jun 20 2020

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A bricked wall with bay window

There’s a lot of confusion between bow windows and bay windows. To the untrained eye, both windows are equally beautiful and hard to tell apart. While this is true, knowing the difference between bay vs bay windows will help homeowners decide which ones would perfectly suit their homes in terms of aesthetic quality and practical benefits. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the unique characteristics that set these two centrepiece windows apart and share some ideas on how they can enhance your home’s interiors.

Let’s get started!

Bay vs Bow Windows, Style and Appearance 

Bay windows are typically composed of three separate panels of windows that project outwards from 18 to 30″ from the interior wall surface. The center unit is a full and fixed picture window set between two slightly smaller casement-style windows or double-hung windows on each end. 

Depending on your personal preference, you can have them made in various shapes, including square, rectangular, hexagonal, or octagonal. Bay window designs have a sharper and more angular appearance that stylishly complements contemporary homes. Nevertheless, homeowners’ bay window reviews reveal that they have a versatile quality that blends well in architectural design with professional window installation.

On the other hand, bow windows consist of four to five window panels mulled together. It’s why they are sometimes called by four-lite bow or five-lite bow windows. Unlike bay windows where the central unit is usually bigger, all four or five panels of bow windows are uniform in size and are fitted with an opening mechanism. Bow windows are, in contrast, more extensive compared to bay windows because of the number of individual windows that they have.

Bow windows stand out with an elegant curve because of the semi-circular structure it creates on the exterior of the property. Its graceful curve gorgeously accentuates the classic charm of Victorian-style homes.

Bay window with white and dark curtain

The Best Window to Let More Natural Light Into Your Home

Basically, both windows are fantastic choices if you are considering replacement windows to brighten up your home. But the beauty of bow windows is that it’s usually bigger and wider since it has more glass panes (four to five) instead and curved corners rather than bay windows, which only have three.  

As a result, bow windows provide you with a more compelling view of the verdant outdoors. But aside from uninterrupted views, it also means bow windows can usher in more natural light. It’s a winning quality that will make a massive difference for your property in terms of aesthetic appeal and resale value.

A home with an abundance of natural light has a lot of benefits and will be a gem in the real estate market. If you’re into indoor plants, the ledge or bench in front of the windows can be a perfect spot to showcase your plant collection because they’ll love the shower of sunshine in the morning.

With bow windows installed and letting sunlight in, expect to see your home’s interiors coming alive with more vibrant colours like you’ve never seen before—the more reason to consider your options between bay vs. bow windows.

Increase Air Flow In Your Home with Bow Windows

Between the two, bow windows are better options if you’re trying to increase your home’s ventilation. Because all four or five individual window units of a bow window can be opened, it means there’s a greater chance to improve air circulation by letting the cool breeze in and the warm temperature out of a room.

Kitchen with floor to ceiling bow windows

Bay vs Bow Windows, Which Gives More Floor Space?

Getting bay windows would be a clever strategy if you are looking for ways to make your home more spacious and functional. 

Bay windows can be installed at projection angles of up to 90 degrees from the exterior of the house. Because the bay windows protrude outwards, it creates an additional floor space that can be used for a cozy seating nook where you can lounge while enjoying the idyllic views of your property. In some cases, bay windows can be installed in a way that it can be big enough to fit a breakfast nook or a full-sized dining area. 

There are many beautiful bay window ideas that you can explore and apply to your own home to make it appear bigger and have more usable living space for you and your family. These include:

  • A quiet reading corner
  • An inspiring home office
  • A charming kitchen bay window
  • A dining or living area with a view 

On the contrary, because bow windows do not protrude outwards that much, it only creates a very minimal floor space. It can still accommodate a narrow bench for sitting down, which you can maximize by customizing it with built-in storage for your knick-knacks.

Bay vs Bow Window, Cost Per Unit and Installation

In terms of cost per unit and window installation, bow windows are expected to be twice more expensive than bay windows. It’s because bow windows are not a single unit but four to five separate windows that each comes with its own operating system. The installation of bow windows is also more complicated compared to bay windows because a soffit or tie-in is necessary to ensure that each unit is properly sealed against water and air. 

Ontario Window Companies

Have you made up your mind about getting bay vs bow windows? Beyond the style of your windows, there are several more important factors to consider, like window materials, energy efficiency, functionality, durability, and insulation capability. All of which depends heavily on where you’re going to source your windows. 

Let us help you select a reliable provider from our selection of top-rated window manufacturers. Do your research by browsing our comprehensive bay window review or bow window reviews.   

Check out our list of Ontario window companies now!


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