When to Choose Bow Windows Over Bay Ones

house exterior

Bow and bay windows are arguably more California than anywhere else in America. The Golden State’s unfailingly pleasant weather makes projecting glass units useful all year round. While both of these windows are charming and functional, there are instances when bow units should be favored over bay ones.

If you are unsure which one to use, here are the best reasons to choose bow windows instead of their cousins:

When There Is Limited Adjacent Space Outside

Anyone with a trained eye will say that a customized bow window in San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, or Los Angeles has a narrow profile. Unlike a bay window, a bow window has curves instead of corners. A typical design has sub-units set at a 25°, 35°, or 45° angle. In comparison, the units of a bay window can go up to a 95° angle.

If you must have a projecting window facing a high-traffic outdoor area, a bow unit will be less of an obstruction.

When You Want More Daylight

As far as glass size is concerned, bow windows generally win over their bay counterparts. A four-unit bow window configuration often suffices to admit abundant natural light to brighten up the room and make it feel larger than it actually is.

When Your House Is Not of Modern or Contemporary Architecture

The latest architectural styles are less tolerant of curves. They are heavy on simplistic shapes, which is why their projecting windows are typically box-bay units.

A bow window usually feels at home with centuries-old architectural designs, like Queen Anne and Victorian styles.

When There Are Other Sources of Natural Ventilation

Bow windows can be excellent ventilators, but they often look pretty from afar when their glass units do not operate. Unless the sub-windows are placed far enough from one another, they should not be opened to avoid ruining the elegant appearance of the whole.

If you have other operating windows in the room to meet your natural ventilation and egress needs, a completely fixed bow window is a good option.

When There Is No Need for Unobstructed Glass

What makes bay units unique is their picture in the middle. If you have a view, this large, visually unbroken piece of glass can frame the panorama and turn Nature into art.

If you live in a crowded neighborhood where the outside world is not breathtaking, you might not need a bay window to create a seamless connection between your indoor and outdoor spaces.

When a Less Spacious Seat Works

seat by the window

As mentioned, a bow window is generally narrow, so it does not stick out so much. As a consequence, it does not produce a roomy recess that can house a large piece of furniture deeply. A bow window could still accommodate a seat, but your options might be limited to a banquette.

When You Are Replacing Corner Windows

Do you want a window that beautifully wraps around a corner? A bow window is a perfect candidate for this application. A series of bow windows arranged vertically can lend a turret-like shape to a corner of your house.

Bow windows are not a good choice for every situation. Since they could cost nearly thrice the price of an ordinary casement or double-hung unit, think carefully before installing them to spend your home improvement dollars wisely.

Scroll to Top