Bay vs Bow Windows: What's the Difference?

Did you know that between 25 and 30 percent of your heating and cooling bills can be attributed to heat gained or lost through your windows? Do you want to minimize these gains and losses and save money on energy bills? If so, it might be time to replace your windows.

When it comes to replacing or updating the windows in your home, there's a lot you need to consider, including the type of windows you want to install and whether you prefer bay or bow windows.

Read on to learn the difference between bay windows and bow windows.

You'll also get some great insights into which one you should choose for your home!

What Are Bay Windows?

Bay windows have three openings. They consist of a picture window that has two other, smaller windows on either side.

These windows are more angular and feature flat planes. They have contemporary lines and are popular in modern homes.

This type of window protrudes farther from the wall into the exterior space, too. This helps to create a feeling of more space inside the room.

What Are Bow Windows?

Bow windows often have four or five openings and a curved structure. They have a rounded appearance and are popular in Victorian homes, as well as other homes built with a more classic architectural style. 

These windows are often much wider than bay windows thanks to their additional openings.

They have a turret shape and can wrap around the entire edge of a building. This structure allows for a great view from multiple sides of the home. 

Bay Window Pros and Cons

There are lots of reasons why you might want to consider bay windows for your home, but they're not for everyone. Here are some bay window pros and cons you ought to keep in mind:


Bay windows let lots of natural light into your home. Because of their panoramic structure, they let sunlight come in from several directions at once.

A bay window creates more space, too. They help to extend the length of the room, sometimes by up to as much as three feet. Who doesn't want extra space, especially in a heavily used room like a living room or dining area?

You can use a bay window to create additional seating, too. You can add a window seat to a large bay window and easily make space for two or three more people to sit in the room comfortably without you having to drag in extra chairs.

Don't forget that a bay window can increase the value of your home, too. People love the look of bay windows (especially those who are interested in modern houses) and are willing to pay more to have one. If you're planning on selling your home at any point (even if it's several years away), you might want to consider investing in a bay window now.


People love that bay windows let lots of light into their homes. This isn't always an advantage, though.

Because these windows let in more light, you have to be strategic about when you open and close your blinds and curtains. If the window is open all the time, you could end up letting more heat into your home. During the summer, this could lead to higher air conditioning bills.

Speaking of blinds and curtains, the angle of bay windows can make the process of finding blinds and curtains that fit difficult. You might have to spend a lot of money to find blinds and curtains that fit the window and work with your decorating style.

Keep in mind that the process of installing a bay window can be difficult. Window installation companies often charge more money for this type of installation than they would for a traditional window since it requires more skill and takes longer.

Bow Window Pros and Cons

Like bay windows, bow windows also have their own pluses and minuses. Consider the following before you decide that these windows are right for you and your home:


It's true that bay windows let in a lot of light, but a bow window lets in even more. Since they're often larger, they allow you to bring in even more sunshine and brighten up even the darkest rooms. 

You also can't beat the view that you get when you install a bow window. Any kind of large window will give you a great view, but a bow window takes things up a notch. They allow you to see the area from a variety of angles and take in all the beauty that your neighborhood has to offer.

These windows can curve around corners, too. This gives your home a castle-like quality, which is something many homeowners (and future homebuyers) love. It's a unique and luxurious element that will set your house apart from others in the area.

Because of the way bow windows are structured, they can often allow for better airflow than traditional windows. If you want to avoid feelings of stuffiness and keep your house as open as possible, a bow window might be a better fit than a bay window. 

These windows also are better for homes that are located close to the edge of the property line. They don't jut out as much as bay windows, so you don't have to worry about them extending over into your neighbor's lot.


Both bow and bay windows are expensive, but a bow window tends to be even more costly. This is because they often require extra materials, and the installation process is tricky.

You'll need to work with a professional who has experience installing a bow window if you want to have one in your home. This can add quite a bit to the total cost of the replacement.

Bow windows also don't allow for as much extra seating as bay windows do. If you were hoping to get some additional seating in the room where the window replacement is taking place, a bay window might be a better solution. 

With a bow window, you also don't get a "picture window" as you do with a bay window. This is a purely aesthetic issue, but it can be a dealbreaker for some people. If you don't like the idea of all the panes of glass being the same size, a bow window likely isn't the right fit for your home. 

Bonus Tips for Choosing Replacement Windows

If you're getting ready to invest in replacement windows for your home, it's important to consider which style you like best. There are other factors to take into account as well, though, including the following:

Frame Material

In addition to window style, you also need to think about the type of frame you want for your windows. Vinyl frames are among the most popular options for homes of all types.

These frames are resistant to damage from termites, and they won't peel, warp, or rot. You don't have to worry about sanding or painting either.

Some people prefer the look of wood window frames. These frames do look nice, but they also require a lot of upkeep. Consider the amount of work you're willing to do to keep them looking nice before you choose wood over vinyl. 


Of course, you have to think about the type of glass used in your windows, too. For example, do you want dual pane glass or triple-pane? Triple pane glass features an extra layer, which can allow for increased energy efficiency and lower energy bills.

You'll also need to decide what kind of gas you want to be used between the window panes. Argon gas is a common option that is denser than air and increases your windows' thermal efficiency. You might also want to consider krypton gas, though, which is denser than argon and allows for even better energy efficiency.

Replacement Costs

Don't forget about the costs associated with replacing your windows, too. It's almost always better to work with a professional window replacement company rather than taking the DIY approach, especially with complex windows like bay and bow styles.

This helps you ensure your windows are replaced the right way the first time around. It can save you money in the long run, and it gives you peace of mind.

When searching for a window replacement company, be sure to find out what they charge for labor as well as replacement materials. Make sure they offer a warranty on their work, too, and learn the details of that warranty before you sign anything.

Bay Windows vs Bow Windows: Which Is Right for You?

You're now an expert in the differences between bay windows and bow windows, as well as the pros and cons they each provide. Armed with all this information, do you know what kind of window you want for your home?

Are you still unsure of which style will work best?

If you're still on the fence and could use some more home improvement insights, we have plenty of resources available on our site. Head to the Home Design section today to learn more.