Bay Window vs Bow Window: What’s the Difference?

Bay Window vs Bow Window

The fastest way to add elegance to your home isn’t by putting in new light fixtures and fancy appliances. It’s window upgrades. Your standard double-hung, windows can make your home more energy-efficient, but they look pretty basic.

Bay Window vs Bow Window offer a touch more elegance to a room while also being just as energy-efficient in most cases. The only question is bay window vs bow window, which is right for your home? 

Your choice will all depend on what style you’re going for, how much space you have to work with, and what your budget is. Check out this guide to learn more about these fabulous window options.

Bay Window Vs Bow Window 

Before we get into weighing bay and bow windows against each other, let’s talk about what they are. A bay window is made up of three sections that extend outward. The center window is a picture window while the two side ones are something completely different. 

Since the bay window extends out, it gives you a lot of fun space options to work with. We’ll get into what you can do with one of these windows a little later. For now, let’s go on to bow windows. 

A bow window uses four windows in its design rather than three. These windows are shaped in a way in which they curve a little. They don’t extend out the same way that bay windows do, but they bring value to your home in other ways. 


The first thing you have to consider is how much space you’re working with. You need at least 40 inches of exterior wall space to install a bay window. 

You also have to consider how close your home is to the road. Again, bay windows extend out of your home. You don’t want to cause any accidents by obstructing the highway. 

Bow windows need more space because they use four windows instead of three. You’ll have to have about 80 inches of room for the installation. 


Whether you think bow or bay windows look better all depends on your own personal preferences. Out of the two, we will tell you that bay windows are a little more versatile. Their design makes them a great choice for Victorian, Modern, and even Colonial styled homes. 

Bow windows are less of a classic than bay ones. This doesn’t mean that they look bad by any means. If you find a good contractor who knows how to install windows, they can look quite charming in Victorian styled homes. 


The next question to ask yourself is how much natural light do you want to let in? When weighing the pros and cons of bow windows, one thing anyone can agree on is they’re great for light. 

They have more glass panes and less frame space, so you can open your blinds and turn off all the lamps in your home. This being said, bay windows aren’t terrible as far as lighting goes either. 

Due to their shape, they can light up a room from all angles. Some may argue that bay windows are better in this particular category depending on where you have them installed. You’ve got to be a little strategic. 


Bay windows beat bow windows every single time in the ventilation category. Bow windows can be installed with an opening mechanism, but it will hurt your wallet since adding it in is complicated. 

Bay windows can open and close the same way as any other window option on the market. So, you won’t have to pay anything extra to enjoy a light breeze during a gorgeous spring afternoon. 


Both window options will cost you a pretty penny. Out of the two, bow windows will hit your bank account a little worse. They use a lot of extra materials and they’re harder to install. 

With all of this in mind, you’ll pay almost a thousand dollars more for bow window installation. 

Home Resale Value

Both of these gorgeous window options will increase your home’s resale value. There’s not a homebuyer alive that won’t look at a bay or bow window and not be impressed with its design. 

They’re both fairly energy-efficient, they let plenty of light in, and you can dress them up to be a valuable part of the house. What’s not to love? 

Outdoor Views

The answer to which option shines in this category is a little obvious. Since bow windows are wider, they’re going to offer a better view of your outdoor space. 

Granted, bow windows will give a panoramic look at almost the entire yard. If you want to highlight your garden or some other specific area of your outdoor space, bay windows are the better choice. 


If you have a lot of space to work with, bay windows are a clear choice here. They offer a large ledge that you can use for a variety of things. You can turn it into a quaint reading nook. 

If you need some extra seating space in the room, your bay window will have you covered. You can display that indoor herb garden you’ve always wanted or use the extra room for storage. 

Bow windows have a small ledge that you can put tiny things on. It doesn’t offer any space to sit, however. 

Which Windows Are Right for Your Home? 

Bay window vs bow window, which is right for your home? It all depends on how much space you have to work with and what your personal aesthetic is. If you want a place to read and sit in your modern styled home, bay windows are the way to go. If you want more natural lighting in your Victorian styled home, bow windows are the clear contender. 

No matter which option you go with, it will be a huge upgrade to your home. Check out the real estate section of our blog for a list of further improvements you can make.