Bay and bow windows have several similarities, so it’s not uncommon for homeowners to get these windows confused. However, while bay and bow windows are attractive options for adding undeniable style, curb appeal, and natural light to your home, each window has unique features that may cause you to favor one over the other.
If you’re unsure whether a bay or bow window is the right decision for your home — or are simply curious about the differences between these windows — keep reading to learn what you need to know about these popular styles.
What Is a Bay Window?
A bay window is a window unit that consists of three windows — usually, two operable windows on each side with one fixed window in the center.
The two windows on each side are situated at an angle (usually 45°), so bay windows are known for having more angular lines and are more prevalent in transitional and contemporary home styles. They also only require 40 inches of wall space to install, which is half the amount required for bow window installation.
Pros & Cons of Bay Windows
Bay windows are generally narrower than bow windows — only requiring 40 inches of wall space — but protrude further from the wall into the exterior space. This extra square footage allows homeowners to create a reading corner, breakfast nook, indoor garden, bathtub alcove, or other innovative addition.
Although bay windows do not allow for as much natural light as bow windows since they are smaller, they do allow for light to come in from three unique angles. You can often catch light morning, noon, and night depending on the placement of your bay window.
Bay windows include one fixed window in the center and two operable windows — often casement or double-hung — on each side. Though the side windows can be opened or vented to allow refreshing breezes to enter your home, the center one will always remain closed.
Bay windows feature sharp edges and flat planes to create a more angular look that is most complementary to modern (or transitional) home styles.
Bay windows are smaller and more straightforward to install, so they are generally two to three times less expensive than bow windows.
What Is a Bow Window?
A bow window is a window unit that consists of four or more windows of the same shape and size to create a more subtle curve than an angular bay window.
Bow windows typically come with four, five, or six windows (referred to as a four-lite bow, five-lite bow, or six-lite bow window) and work best on walls with at least 80 inches of wall space. Double-hung, fixed, and casement windows are the most common styles used for bow windows.
Pros & Cons of Bow Windows
Bow windows protrude at a more gradual angle than bay windows, creating a rounded or circular shape that creates architectural interest from the curb. Since bow windows are larger, they can often be wrapped around the corner of your home, creating a unique turret shape that allows natural light and beautiful views from two sides of the house from the same window.
A bow window includes up to six windows and can occupy several feet of wall space, so naturally, this window style will brighten up a room instantly. If you desire abundant natural light, a bow window may be the perfect option.
Since bow windows can be installed with casement, fixed, or double-hung windows, the amount of ventilation from a bow window is entirely up to the homeowner. However, if you’d like to enjoy refreshing breezes from four, five, or six entry points, we recommend installing casement or double-hung windows.
Bow windows feature a rounded appearance since the windows are the same width and size, making them ideal for properties with more traditional architectural styles — predominantly Victorian homes.
Bow windows are considerably more expensive than bay windows. They must be custom created by combining four or more matching windows from one product line, so the quantity of windows is greater, and installation requires a soffit tie-in or an extended hip roof.
Let Us Help You Choose Whether a Bay or Bow Window Is Right for Your Indianapolis Home
Bay and bow windows are both ideal for adding natural light, refreshing ventilation, and curb appeal to your home. However, factors like your budget, your home’s architectural design, and your personal style may lead you to favor one window design over the other.
Regardless of which window style you choose for your Indianapolis home, JD Hostetter & Associates would be thrilled to assist you with your window installation. As a Pella Elite Platinum Certified Contractor, we can guarantee window installation that exceeds your highest standards. We’re committed to getting the job done right — every time!
Learn more about our window installation services to discover the benefits and options available when installing Pella windows with our team at JD Hostetter & Associates.