Bay Window vs. Bow Window: What’s the Difference?

Bay Window vs. Bow Window

Most of us want to make the home as elegant and unique as possible. It is particularly essential for the living room where the family spends most of the time during the day. It may sound a bit unexpected, but the window can be the solution you are looking for.

Except for getting a fantastic view of the landscaping beyond, you will transform an ordinary place into something special. The only thing you should decide is about the type of window fitting your home the best. If you ask me, the dilemma is simple, and you should choose between two options – bay window vs. bow window.

bay window vs. bow window

As I have already mentioned, there are two beautiful and highly practical types of windows for your home you probably haven’t heard about. Both of them are excellent choices.

However, once you decide to install one in your home, you may wonder which one to pick out. I will try to list here all the advantages of both types and a few disadvantages you should consider, as well. After weighing the bay window vs. bow window well, you will be prepared to make your home different.

You can distinguish them at first glance. The bay window contains just three window panes, including one picture window and two smaller ones on each side. It will give more space to the room.

On the other hand, a curved structure of the bow window is made of four to six window panes. With more panels, this model gives the outside of the house a rounded appearance.

Even though bow windows are quite romantic, most people consider them a bit old-fashioned. Therefore, they rather choose modern, flat bay windows for their homes.

Not to mention that a bow window will cost you more since it is much more complicated to install it. The one you want to purchase for your home will depend on your preferences and positive features you recognize while considering bay window vs. bow window advantages.

What Is Bay Window

What Is Bay Window

A bay window is actually the combination of one large, central, and two smaller window panes that make angular lines. The center window is fixed and approximately 50% larger than flankers (side windows), placed at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees to the wall.

Make sure you take the necessary measurements before installing such a window. Keep in mind that a 30-degree bay window projects 13 inches (33 cm) from the house, and a 45-degree one will project 19 inches (48 cm) on average.

That means you need to create support for your new window and prevent it from breaking off from the wall. The best solutions for that purpose are steel support cables or braces screwed to the house below the window.

Since it protrudes outside the wall, this type of window will offer you a seating space and an expansive view. Both the double-hung or single hung windows are an excellent source of ventilation since you can open and closed the flankers when needed.

If you decide to buy a bay window for your home, you can pick out among square, hexagonal, and octagonal models. Each of them is an excellent choice for your living room, but it will look lovely in the dining room, as well.

Since it seems that this type of window has so many advantages, why we the bay window vs. bow window dilemma exist in the first place? Let’s see.

What Is Bow Window

What Is Bow Window

With a few identical window panes fitted at a 10-degree angle, a bow type of window is well-known for a beautiful curved appearance. It extends outside the exterior wall and sweeps away from the wall in an elegant arch of four to even six separate windows.

Since the panels have the same size and shape, the window provides a symmetrical appearance to the house.

The full beauty of bow windows is particularly visible when utilized on the corner of a house. Such a position with so many window panes allows a broad panoramic view, making this model highly desirable. Plus, more glass will bring more natural light into your living room and make it more extending.

Unlike bay windows that create a convenient separate sitting area, bow windows are less practical but more elegant. They will give the illusion of making your space looks more extensive and more open. However, if you make it correctly, this window will offer a little extra storage space, as well.

Depending on the size of your home and your preferences, you can pick out a bow window in a variety of sizes and a range from 4 to 13 feet (1.2 – 4 m).

Bow windows project from 4 to 24 inches (10 – 61 cm) from the wall on average, depending on their size. For example, if you choose a window with a four-sash bow, it will be about 8 feet (2.4 m) wide and protrude less than 10 inches (25.5 cm).

Keep in mind that you will need an overhanging eave or a roof across the top of the bow window, as well.

Bay window vs. bow window: Which One is Better?

Bay window vs. bow window

No one can tell you which type of window style is better and more desirable. The bay window vs. bow window choice will depend on your preferences, and you will make the right decision after becoming aware of the primary differences between them. Let’s see.


Both types of windows are made of a few sections fitting together as one unit and have a ledge on the interior. They will both protrude from the outside wall of your house. However, the difference is evident.

A bay window has one fixed central window, and two angled, casement or double-hung flankers. A bow window is contained of four to six window panes that form a curved shape.

Exterior Space

An average bay window will be an excellent choice regardless of whether your living room facing your yard or a street or sidewalk. However, this type of window may extend 2 feet (61 cm) out from the wall if you choose the sizable model. In that case, you should avoid it if your house is close to the street.

On the other hand, thanks to a narrower profile of an average bow window, it is a better option for limited space.


In this case, the bay window vs. bow window dilemma don’t exist. Both let a great deal of light into the house. However, it seems that a bow window has a slight advantage when it comes to this feature thanks to its curved shape, more glass, and greater width.

Basically, your choice will depend on the room where you want to install the window. The bow window is an ideal choice for the living room, but you should pick out the bay one for the bedroom. Adequate window blinds or bay window curtains will help you keep privacy and allow desired darkness.


A bay window is a better choice if this feature is crucial to you. Its flankers are usually casement or double-hung and can let in fresh air without affecting the look of the window.

On the other hand, the opening of window panes of a bow window is not practical at all. Since they are set close, you should pay attention to the opening mechanisms to avoid problems.


You may expect that the installation of a larger window will lead to higher electricity bills. However, you can pick out a certified energy-efficient window to avoid it.

In such a case, either a bay or bow window won’t affect heating and cooling costs negatively. On the contrary, a certified energy-efficient window may even make your bills lower.


Installing both types of windows is not an easy and quick job. However, the placement of a bow window is harder and more challenging because it is sizable and heavy. In both cases, you should hire a professional for this task.

bay window vs. bow window: Overall Costs

bay window vs. bow window over cost

Depending on the region where you live, labor costs will be different, but it is still possible to make a rough estimate.

More glass of these types of windows will cost you more money. However, you can count that a bow window will cost 10 to 15% more than a bay one since there more window panes in its construction.

Let’s see the average costs in case bay window vs. bow window.

Bay windows Cost

The cost of replacing a standard, 8 feet (2.4 m) wide bay window will cost from $2,600 to $3,500 on average, including all expenses for materials and labor.

Since the opening for accommodating a bay window needs to be at least 40 inches (1 m) in width, you may need to get enlarging the existing opening done. That will increase your costs depending on the size of the window. In such a case, your bill will range from $4,000 to $7,000.

Bow windows Cost

An average bow window with five panels will cost from $3,600 to $5,000 for materials and labor. Keep in mind that the cost to install may go as high as $12,000. It will primarily depend on the complexity of the job and the size of the window.

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