What Is the Difference Between Bow & Bay Windows?

by Carol Reeves

There are many ways to update the look of your home. One big change that many homeowners can do is to replace their existing windows. Once you decide you are ready to change your window you are faced with limitless options for combining window styles. One common change is to replace a regular sliding window with a bow or bay window.

Types

A bay window is a window that projects outside of the wall allowing you to view more of the outside than a regular window. It can be square, hexagon or an octagon in shape. A bow window is a curving bay window.

Differences

A bay window is often associated with angled corners at varying degrees ranging from 90, 135 and 150 degrees often used in Victorian architecture. Bow windows are typically four or more casement windows that form an arch and are associated with the Federal period of architecture in the United States.

Function

Many people feel a bow window allows for more light because the curve gives the illusion that it is one big window. A square bay window can protrude further out side of the building, allowing for more views to the side.

History

Bow windows were first used in the eighteenth century in the United Kingdom. They were first used in the United States during the Federal style architecture around the same time. Bay windows started to appear during the Victorian era of the nineteenth century when their angled lines fit better with that style of architecture.

Size

The bow window and bay window can be made to fit any size opening. Both windows can be made to accommodate seating or storage underneath the window, provided the structure can hold the load of the extra weight. Both the seating and the window will be protruding from the side of the building.

About the Author

Carol Reeves is a licensed architect with more than 12 years of experience in architecture and construction. In 2003 she began writing and editing for local publications, as well as teaching at community colleges. Reeves holds a Bachelor of Architecture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.