Bow vs Bay Windows – What’s the difference?

We get asked about the differences between bow vs bay windows all the time. We finally decided it was time to whip up a post with the correct answer for all to see.

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To put it simply the difference is in the layout of the windows.  Both bow and bay windows stick out from the house, but they have a different look.  Bow windows are made up of equal sized lites or panels while bay windows have a center section that is larger than the sides.

We may need a picture for this one.  First we’ll start with a bay window.

bay window vs bow window price and cost

Ok, so that’s a bay window.  3 panels, and the center is larger than the sides.

Now, here’s a bow window:
bow-windowSee the difference?  The bow has several panels and they’re all the same size.  A bow window can have 3, 4, 5, 6 or more panels, but they’re always the same size.

Is a bow window better than a bay window?

Nope, it is really just a style difference.  Do you prefer the look of the larger picture window in the center or a bay window or would you rather have several symmetrical panels?  One is not better than the other, they’re just different.

What is the price difference between a bow and a bay window?

The difference in cost is typically pretty small.  Many manufacturers will charge more for a bigger window, but the difference between a bow and a bay is typically not a huge driver of the cost.  A bow window with many panels (called lites) will typically cost more than a bay window with only 3 lites.

A cost difference of a few hundred dollars wouldn’t be unusual, but you shouldn’t see much more difference than that.

As you’re shopping for new windows be sure to check out our detailed window reviews here.  If you’re looking for anything that you can’t find be sure to post a comment or send us an email.  We read every single one and we’ll do our best to respond.


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6 thoughts on “Bow vs Bay Windows – What’s the difference?”

  1. Toby Dicknut says:

    I like windows becuase they hepl me c outside and i lke 2 c otside.

    1. thewindowdog says:

      Thanks for sharing. I like to see outside too.

  2. Universal Windows Las Vegas says:

    Good read, It really is incredibly fantastic and informative website.Personally I was looking for some general information about bay and bow windows and your post was just perfect.Hope that you will continue to do posting.

    1. thewindowdog says:

      Hi Universal Windows. Glad you found the info on bay windows to be helpful. Let me know if you have any other window questions.

  3. I want to replace all my windows. I am greatly concerned about losing glass area and I am looking at full frame replacement which adds $225 to each window. I am still confused if this is worth it. What existing style of windows do you lose the most glass with and do OKNA windows have a wide frame? Which windows have narrow frames? My house is already dark.

    Also two of my windows are bay windows. The first replacement company seemed to think that they would put in three separated windows instead of one unit? Can I get a replacement bay window that’s one unit?

    1. thewindowdog says:

      Okna makes several models, some thicker than others. When replacing a bay window you can either replace the whole structure or you can replace the windows in the existing structure. If you’re not sure which option is best you should probably ask the company who is trying to sell you thousands of dollars in windows. If you don’t trust their answer you may not want to work with them. Full frame windows are sometimes more trouble than they’re worth. Some salespeople push them without any concern for what is actually best for your project. Just ask them for more info. If they can’t provide it then look somewhere else.

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