Bay vs Bow Windows: What's the Difference?

May 17, 2021



Bay Vs Bow Windows - Clera Windows + Doors

Windows can brighten up and add character to your home. They can also make a big difference in your quality of life.  Bay windows and bow windows are quite popular among many homeowners. Often they get these two mixed up or find it difficult to choose which one best fits their home’s overall aesthetic and family’s lifestyle.

In this article, we take a closer look at the unique qualities of bay window vs bow window by delving deeper into the following topics:

Let’s get right to it!

Difference Of Bay Vs Bow Windows - Clera Windows + Doors

Projection Windows

Both bay and bow windows are known as “projection windows” designed in such a way that, instead of being flushed to the wall, they have an arched shape that projects outwards. Because of this unique feature, they are preferred by most homeowners who want to have an expanded and multidimensional view of their backyard garden or the spectacular scenery outside while also getting a bit of extra floor space. Hence, many homes with bay windows and bow windows feature a window seat or a little nook, which is a perfect spot for relaxing, reading, reflecting, chatting, having coffee, or just enjoying the sun indoors.

If you are interested in cultivating indoor plants, these wide projection windows offer an ideal space for that, too, because they get plenty of sunlight during the day.

Bow Window vs Bay Window: The Differences

1. Design and Overall Structure

So how do you tell apart a bay window from a bow window with just one look? We’ve laid out everything you need to know on this table below.

Bay Window Bow Window
Number of window components Feature 3 window openings mulled at 25 to 45-degree angles. Have 4 or 5 windows mulled at 10 degrees arranged in a curved structure?
Size of window components The standard three-sided bay window design features a picture window and two smaller windows on either side. Bow windows have 4 or 5 openings of the same size.
Appearance of created protrusion Creates a deeper and more angular protrusion from the home’s wall. Gives the appearance of a shallow protrusion.
Island Trading Bay windows tend to look better on modern homes due to the angular lines and flat planes. Bow windows suit Victorian-style homes more because of the elegant charm of their slight curves.

2. Which One Increases Interior Space More?

Bay windows protrude farther from the wall outwards, creating additional floor space that resembles an alcove. If your objective is to maximize your interiors to make a spot for doing hobbies, storage, or growing plants, bay windows would be a wonderful choice! Check out inspirations for bay window designs online.

3. Which Allows More Natural Light?

Generally, both window types are great sources of natural light. However, since bow windows have more glass surface and are wider compared to bay windows, they bring in more sunlight into your home during the daytime. If your goal is to brighten up your living space to the fullest and rely less on artificial light, we suggest going for bow windows to get this benefit.

4. Which Gives Better Ventilation?

Technically bow windows offer optimal ventilation and air circulation. Unlike bay windows that feature large, stationary picture windows in the middle and casement windows on either side, bow windows have individual operable windows that can be opened to maximize airflow when needed. However, there are also bow window designs that feature three fixed windows right at the center and two casement windows on the side. In such a design, the amount of ventilation would equal that of a bay window. In short, it all depends on how many window components in the bay window or bow window can allow for ventilation.

Which Gives Better Ventilation - Clera Windows + Doors

Bow Window vs Bay Window Installation Cost

Bay and bow window installations typically cost two to three times more than the installation of a single flat window of the same size. This is not unusual considering that bow and bay windows comprise multiple windows. Moreover, the fact that these windows are angled makes their installation more complex than regular windows, especially when it comes to creating proper water and air seal. The shell of the window opening should also have a strong structural integrity to provide sufficient support for the heavy windows. Bow and bay windows also require masterful insulation, since they are projecting outside the home where the impact of the elements will be much greater. There are different kinds of shells, including oak veneer with vinyl sash and a range of glass options. Some shells come with solid, insulated tongues, and groove flooring planks.

When it comes down to the details, bow windows are slightly more expensive than bay windows because they have a larger window surface area and are more complex to install. A replacement bow window usually costs 10 to 15% more than bay windows. At the end of the day, the cost of getting bow windows vs bay windows is rarely a deterrent for homeowners who are looking to upgrade their home’s curb appeal and property’s value. These windows offer a myriad of benefits, including a remarkable return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.

Bay Windows and Bow Windows by Clera

With over 40+ years of experience, we at Clera Windows + Doors, have worked on numerous homes that needed bay window and bow window installation. Through the years, we’ve fine-tuned our bay and bow windows to have it all — durability, superior energy efficiency, insulation, sound reduction, and aesthetic appeal.

Still, torn about getting a bay window vs bow window for your home? If you’re not sure which one to choose, we can offer some insight on that as well! Let our window specialists help you. Please feel free to reach out to us or get started by clicking here for a FREE estimate!

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