Bow Window vs Bay Window: Pros and Cons

If you are designing your own home or looking to replace an existing window then you may be considering either a bow window or a bay window to add some character and light to your home. Although bay windows are more commonly known, a bow window can offer some of the same features and is an option that is worth looking into to see if it will fit your style. To assist with your deliberations cast your eye over the pros and cons of each type of window below.

Clarifying the Difference

Before going any further it is important to explain the difference between bow and bay windows. A bay window is an area that protrudes from the house in a square, hexagonal or octagonal shape with a window in three sections. A bow window consists of a series of casement windows placed together to form a curved shape.

Building Consent

If your house is close to the street then you will need to check how far the window is permitted to project from the building without causing a problem. Bay windows are generally installed at angles of 90, 135 or 150 degrees from the house so will often protrude further than a bow window. If you want to build a bay window on an upper story of the house then you also need to take into consideration the support for the pillars that are one of their features as they will add a lot of weight to the structure. To gain the curved appearance of the bow window there is less separation between the glass panes.

Floor Space

As a bay window protrudes further out from the home they often add more floor space to display a special piece of furniture or artwork. However, both types of windows are suitable for adding boxed window seats as an interior design feature so if that is your intention then there is no need to discount the bow window from your planning.


As a bow window has more panes of glass and less supporting features between, them they generally allow much more light into a room than a bay window. Bow windows can be used as an effective feature to wrap around the corner of a house thus allowing the light to enter the room from two different aspects. As you increase the range of your view out from the house you should always bear in mind that you are also increasing the view that other people have in through the windows and consider how you will maintain your privacy.


The design of bow windows using casement windows normally means that only a few of the windows can actually be opened because there is not enough space for the opening mechanisms to be installed and still maintain the seamless curved shape. If you decide to install a bow window and want to be able to open more of the panes you need to speak with your glazier to make this arrangement, which is normally more expensive. Bay windows are not grouped so closely together and have space between the panes of glass to allow the mechanisms to be installed for all of the windows to open.