The Difference Between Bow And Bay Windows

There are two window styles that can be found in French villas, British castles, Indian temples, and American mansions alike: bow and bay windows. While they’re similar in appearance, there are some defining features that make these styles uniquely desirable.

What makes bow and bay windows unique?

There aren’t many window styles that look or operate quite like a bow or bay window. Their most iconic and recognizable feature is that both styles protrude from the wall, giving panoramic views and increasing the size of the room they complement.  Surprising as it may seem, however, that’s where the similarities end.

Choosing between bow and bay windows can have big implications for the look and feel of a room. Some manufacturers, like Centennial Windows & Doors, will employ dedicated experts who can help inform a decision based on the needs of the house, homeowner, and the demands of the window itself. Your choice of window will also depend largely on whether you’re installing windows in a new home or you’re looking to learn about window replacement options when your old bay or bow windows need an overhaul. Here are some of the things experts will consider:

Bow windows

Bow windows get their name from their shape: they bow outwards from the house in an arching shape. Made up of upwards of 4 panes of glass, bow windows are known for providing wide, panoramic views without taking up any real space. Thanks to this shape, it is common to see bow windows wrap around the corner of a home, increasing the amount of available natural light.

Another feature that makes the bow window unique is that it is made up of multiple casement or double hung panes. These styles can be opened up with ease, allowing for excellent ventilation, which helps to cut down on energy costs in the summer.

Bay windows

Where bow windows offer multi-paned customization, bay windows offer a simple, reliable form. Using a total of 3 panes set at 135 degrees, bow windows protrude from your home, often offering a ledge/extension of the room they’re a part of. The center, and largest, pane is usually a fixed picture style, while the two side panes are typically casement.

When it comes to letting in light, the bay window proves that less is more. Thanks to the larger panes, bow windows can offer more light at better angles. The views are also superior to many styles, as the larger panes provide a nearly unobstructed peripheral.

Bow and bay windows fulfill a similar purpose, but are unique in the way they achieve their aim. Both are equally energy efficient, and offer brilliant views, but there are differences to take into consideration. Bow windows have better ventilation and offer more customization options, while bay windows can expand the room’s size and let in more light. When it comes to price, however, it is very common for bow windows to be more expensive — thanks to the greater number of panes.

Finding the right fit for your home

Surprisingly, the choice between a bow or bay window will largely come down to the size of the opening in your home. For a bow window, you’ll need a space at least 80 inches in width, while for a bay window, you’ll need a space at least 40 inches wide.

No matter the style you choose for your home, you can trust that a well-built bow or bay window, installed by a professional team, will last a lifetime.