The names sound similar and the windows themselves are similar. So what in the heck is the difference between a bay window and a bow window? Both will let in lots of light and offer great views, but there are some key differences between the two…
Bay Vs. Bow Window Style
A bay window usually has three openings, so it’s like three separate windows that have been married and live together within one frame. The middle window is typically (though not always) the size of a standard picture window and it’s flanked by two standard-sized windows. If your home is modern, the bay window’s more angular look will probably suit you just fine, although a bay window isn’t relegated to only modern homes.
Most bow windows have four, five or more windows as opposed to the three in a classic bay window. This allows for a curved installation that can even extend around corners, effectively offering a view from two sides of your home! The bow window is generally a bit curvier style-wise, and is perfect for a Victorian style home, although again, it can be used in virtually any style of home.
Bay Vs. Bow Windows for Adding Light
Since the bow window has more openings, it’s usually wider than a bay window and allows more light to come into your home. Bay windows may let in slightly less light and offer slightly less privacy as views encompass more side angles. Either is beautiful, though, and light is one of the main benefits of both styles. They really open up a room making them feel more open and spacious.
Bow Vs. Bay Windows Exterior Considerations
Bay windows tend to extend further from the building. They are generally installed at angles of 90, 135 or 150 degrees from the house so most often protrude further than a bow window. If your home’s exterior is near a sidewalk or street, a bow window may be a better fit. Bow windows also tend to be wider, and can even be installed around the corner of the house.
Bay Windows Allow for More Floor Space
Another thing that’s nice about bay windows is that they bump out a bit from the side of the house, allowing for a bit more floor space inside, perfect for displaying a favorite piece of furniture or artwork. They’re perfect for a breakfast nook, a window seat or just a wide sill that can accommodate a veritable jungle of houseplants. However, both types of window designs allow for the addition of window seats as an interior design feature so you needn’t discount the bow window from your options.
Bay Windows Give More Window Style Options
Bay windows can be flexible when it comes to each individual window type. If air circulation is important in your room, think carefully before choosing bow windows. While opening bow windows can be installed, they are sometimes more expensive or can disrupt the overall flow of the windows’ elegant curvature. Bay windows, on the other hand, can easily accommodate opening mechanisms and function just like ordinary windows. You can choose a combination of double-hung, casement, picture, or awning windows to create your bay window.
Bow Vs Bay Windows Cost Considerations
So which is right for your home? The decision will rest with your tastes and your budget. Bow windows are more expensive to install since they typically require tying into a soffit or a hip roof to seal out air and water. They’re also costlier because they’ve got more glass and more structure than a typical bay window.