Clera Windows + Doors Blog

Bay Vs Bow Windows: What’s The Difference?

Choosing the right window can brighten up your rooms and life. If you are considering bow windows installation, then you are probably looking for a way to fill your living space with daylight and bring the outside in.

Both bow and bay windows are preferred by homeowners because they provide an expanded view of the outside and also create an inviting area for sitting and relaxing. Both designs feature projection windows that enhance curb appeal and give your home a touch of distinction.

Other common features include:

  • Moisture control – The head and seat board features a contoured trim made from extruded vinyl that protects against conduction. It has a tapered interior dam that fits snugly against the bay or bow window, directing moisture away from the sash and frame for exceptional waterproofing.
  • Insulation protection – the seat boards feature a 1.5-inch thick insulation that protects against temperature fluctuations and drafts.
  • Custom finishing – the head and seat boards are typically made from birch veneer or thick oak, which can be stained or painted to match your living space decor.
  • Great rigidity – the frames and sash of bow and bay windows are fusion-welded at mitred corners to give a seamless look and provide stability as a single piece.
  • Superior strength – bay and bow windows feature a sturdy cable support system that guarantees structural integrity for the entire life of the window without requiring knee braces.

Differences between bow and bay windows

Although bow and bay windows offer more or less the same benefits, there are a few differences between the two designs. To begin with, bay windows generally feature three window openings mulled at 25 to 45-degree angles to dramatically open up your living space, while the four or five windows in the bow design are mulled at 10 degrees to give the appearance of a shallow protrusion.

Here are other differences:

  • Overall structure
    The three-opening bay window design features a picture window and two other smaller windows on either side. The side windows are generally a fraction of the size of the centre picture windows, sometimes even one-quarter the size of the main window. The four or five openings on bow windows, typically referred to as “four-lite bow” or “five-lite bow” windows, are of the same size and slightly angled to create a rounded appearance.

  • Victorian architecture versus modern home
    Modern homes tend to look better with the angular lines and flat planes associated with bay windows. Victorian-style homes, on the other hand, look better with the slight-curves and semi-circular appearance of bow windows.

  • Increasing interior space
    While both windows increase the size of your living space, bay windows tend to protrude farther from the wall outwards, creating even more room on the interior for extra seating and cosy nooks for relaxing.

  • Light penetration
    Since bow windows have more glass surface compared to bay windows, they are generally wider than bay windows, allowing more light to penetrate your home.

  • Ventilation
    Bay windows typically comprise a single large picture window in the middle and casement windows on either side. With bow windows, on the other hand, each window is operable to maximize air flow when need be.

  • Positioning
    Bow windows can be designed for installation around the corner of your building, creating an enticing nook on the inside and a distinct turret shape on the outside. This unique positioning extends the view of the outside from two sides of the room and dramatically increases the value of your building.

Cost of bow windows installation

Bay and bow windows 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 a proper water and air seal.

The shell of the window opening should have the correct structural integrity to provide sufficient support for the heavy windows. These windows also require masterful insulation, owing to the fact that 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 tongue and groove flooring planks.

Naturally, bow windows are more expensive than bay windows because of their greater window surface area and installation complexity, usually with a 10 to 15 per cent price difference.

The high cost of bow and bay windows is rarely a deterrent for homeowners looking to upgrade their windows. These windows offer a myriad of benefits, including a wide range of styles and design materials, as well as the remarkable return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.

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