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Bay vs. Bow: Which Window is Right for Your Home?

bay window in a house with blue siding

bow window

SoftLite bay and bow windows may seem similar from the outside (or inside!), but they are two distinct window styles! While both of these projection window solutions can instantly brighten a room and transform the look of your home, it’s essential to understand how both offerings differ in terms of size, configuration, and intended room placement. As we go through the benefits and features of each style to narrow down which option works best for your home, rest assured that both bay and bow windows are the ultimate solution where customization, increased ventilation, and value are a priority.

Introduction to the Bay Window

First, let’s get to know one of the most popular window styles – the bay window. The bay window gained popularity as a Victorian aesthetic and has grown to be a versatile option to accommodate a variety of home designs. You can think of this configuration as an extension of your home since it projects outward. Strategically placing this structure street-facing from your living room will give panoramic views on the inside while creating a focal point on the outside.

bay window with oak case

Achieving a bay window’s signature look requires a combination of three windows that angle either 30 or 45 degrees beyond the exterior wall. Depending on the angle selected, homeowners can add an extra area to create cozy window seating, a nook, or an alcove. The center window is generally a picture window with either a casementsingle, or double-hung window on each side. As a rule, bay windows fit best into wall spaces 40 inches or larger. SoftLite’s bay windows include our SuperSeat™ insulated seat board to provide increased energy efficiency for this area. Let’s look at the additional features of our bay windows:

  • Offered in a wide variety of colors and interior woodgrain finishes
  • Insulated with Comfort-Foam™ for maximum energy efficiency
  • Engineered with a welded sill pan to eliminate water penetration
  • Supported by a turnbuckle and chain support system to prevent sagging

Pro-Tip: Choosing operational windows on each side of a picture window will allow for additional fresh air and ventilation to enter your home!

Introduction to the Bow Window

large bow window

The bow window is often called the ‘compass’ window since it forms a semicircular shape. Today, these windows are  still as popular due to the abundance of natural light they let into homes.

Unlike the bay style, bow windows have an arc-shaped structure with windows angled at either 10, 15, 30, or 45 degrees, with four or five separate windows. We recommend selecting casement windows as they operate to a full 90°, allowing you to easily clean the exterior from the comfort of your home, plus you get increased ventilation. Bow windows are ideal for walls where 80 inches or more are available. Additionally, there are a wide variety of outstanding features SoftLite bow windows can provide:

  • A selection of color choices from our standard exterior options or custom color matching system
  • Offered in several colors and interior woodgrain finishes
  • Customized exterior roofing with shingles, copper, or aluminum
  • Threaded steel rods and a chain bracing system to eliminate the potential for sagging
  • Added water leakage and air infiltration protection

bay window          IE Interior Casement Bow

The Clear Differences

The differences should be apparent now that you’re familiar with both window styles. Bay windows have more angled options to achieve a squared-off appearance. Bow windows complete an arc shape. In comparison, each configuration expands beyond the wall in distinct ways for more or less square footage.

Projection windows ass value to your home, improve your view, increase natural light, provide increased ventilation, and create more interior space. While both bay and bow windows use multiple panes to create a stunning focal point, understanding the offerings of each style will help you decide what best suits your next new construction or renovation project. Find a SoftLite dealer near you to get started on giving your home a total refresh.