What Is The Difference Between Bay and Bow Windows?

Kenneth Wilson

What Is The Difference Between Bay and Bow Windows?

When it comes to window replacement projects, there are different types that you can choose from. If you don’t want the usual casement or awning style, one way to spruce this up is to get a bay or a bow window. 

These two designs look similar - both are curved and project outward. But if you look at it closely, they also have distinct differences. It’s important to choose between the two because windows of this type usually become the focal point of a house. The result can transform the interior of your home as well as have an effect on the exterior and curb appeal.

If you’re not sure which style to get for your home, here are the differences between bay windows and bow windows. 

Bay Windows

A bay window is a combination of three windows joined at 30-degree or 45-degree angles, which extend outward from the home or beyond the exterior wall.

This window is a combination of different styles, so there are many configurations available for bay windows. Most often, it has a larger center window, such as a fixed and picture window, and smaller operable side windows such as double-hung or casement windows. This configuration provides a larger unobstructed view with good ventilation. 

If you want better airflow, you can go for other configurations such as double-hung windows for the center and both sides or double-hung center with casement windows on the side. There are many styles available for the three panes, so you can create a unique combination that would match your home.

From the outside, bay windows become a visual focal point, which is why it is often used on the front exterior of the home. It adds more style and increases curb appeal, perfect for those who are planning a home makeover or selling their home.

Inside the home, it creates a small nook since the bay window angles outward. The protrusion adds more floor space which can be used as a window seat or resting area. With three windows combined together, the bay window provides a large and extended view of the view. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or read a book, especially since there is more natural light coming in. It’s the perfect sitting area - bright lighting, inviting space, and enhanced views.

If you are wondering about the cost, bay windows are more expensive than the classic single- or double-hung and other windows. The average cost of this replacement window is around $500 to $3,500. It can go as high as $10,000, depending on the size, configuration, glass, and frame material or if you want additional roofing and framing. It’s not surprising that it is more expensive since it uses a combination of these styles - basically, it’s like getting three windows. 

Bow Windows

Bow windows look just like bay windows because they protrude from the exterior wall and have multiple windows. However, a bow window is a combination of four to six equally-sized windows that are joined at a 10-degree angle. Since it uses a less sharp angle, this type creates a more graceful arch and a circular extension from the home.

From the outside, it also becomes a visually-appealing focal point. But since the angles are smaller and less sharp, the protrusion is less noticeable. This would also mean that there will be less room inside because it doesn’t project outward as far as bay windows. 

Don’t worry, you could still create a comfortable seating area or cozy nook by adding some bench seats or cushions on the ledge. If there’s not enough space for a sitting area, you can always use the space for extra storage. Install some cabinets or you can add shelves to place your decorations or plants.

Another option is to use bow windows in the corners by wrapping them around, creating a turret-like shape. This creates more floor space inside while providing an extended view. This means you can see two views from different sides of your home.

It may create a smaller space inside, but bow windows often have a bigger viewing area. This means larger unobstructed views with more natural light coming into your home. It will help make the room brighter and look visually-bigger. 

However, you won’t be able to use different configurations similar to bay windows. Since it has to be equal-sized windows, you would have to use the same style. At least you can choose among different types such as casement, double-hung, or custom-curved windows. Using the same size is important to create that graceful curve shape. The windows can also be fixed, but if you want better airflow, make sure to use operable windows.

If a bay window that uses three windows is more expensive than the usual types, then expect that bow windows will also be costly. The cost of this replacement window ranges between $1,000 and $4,300 since it often uses curved and custom windows. It can also reach the $10,000 price tag, especially when fully-customized. It is also more expensive because it is more difficult to install than a bay window. It needs additional prep-work such as soffit tie-in or a hip roof to prevent air and water leaks.

Summary: Bay Windows vs. Bow Windows

Bay Windows

Bow Windows

Number of windows

Three openings

Four to six openings


30-degree to 45-degree angles

10-degree angle


Sharper curve

A graceful arch and rounder appearance


Various configurations

Equally-sized windows

Window style

Different window styles

Different style options


Less wide


Indoor space

More indoor floor space from the protrusion

Smaller indoor floor space from the protrusion

Aesthetic compatibility

Better suited for modern homes

Better suited for old homes inspired by the Victorian-era

Natural light

Less natural light can come in

Allows more natural light


Less expensive, $500 to $3,500

More expensive, $1,000 and $4,300


Easier to install

More complicated to install

Are You Ready To Get Your Bay Window or Bow Window Installed?

If you’re ready to get started with your window replacement project, then it’s time to look for a pro to get the job done.

If you are looking for a window installer, I operate a partner network that covers nearly all markets in the United States. Click 'GET FREE QUOTES’ to get estimates on your project. I think you'll find my partner contractors are on point and more responsive than most! 


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Kenneth Wilson
January 26, 2021
Window Replacement

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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