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Bay vs Bow Windows: What's the Difference?

Bow and bay windows are designs that work well in many different types of homes. While the two window designs do share some similarities, they also have a few key differences. Before you make a decision between installing bay versus bow windows, take the time to learn what each one has to offer. Doing so will allow you to settle on the design that works best for your home. 

The Number of Windows Used 

Bow and bay windows both extend outward from the home, but the number of windows used varies. A basic bay window usually has a larger central window flanked by two narrower windows. The bow windows is often constructed using five or six windows that are of uniform size or equal numbers of alternating windows in two different widths.

Curves Rather Than Angles 

Another difference between the two is that bay windows tend to be more angular. It’s the two windows flanking the middle window that creates the visual presentation of corners or angles in the basic design. Since the typical bow windows uses more sashes, the angles are less severe and the effect is more like that of a curve. 

If you are installing the window in a room that already has quite a few sharper corners in the basic design, opting for a bow window can soften the visual aspect of the space significantly. Outside the gentle curve also helps to offset some of the sharp angles found on the exterior. 

The Amount of Natural Light 

There’s no doubt that bow and bay windows allow more natural light into a space. What you may not realize is that a bow window lets in a little more light than the typical bay design. That has to do with the use of more windows and the way they gently curve around. The view is more expansive and the additional light will certainly help brighten the room. 

Controlling Air Flow 

You can incorporate sashes that move up and down or swing outward or inward into any type of bow or bay window design. Owning the the greater number of windows used with a bow window, you have greater control over the amount and direction of the air flow. For example, you may choose to open a single sash along one of the interior walls to let in a little fresh air or open one on the opposite side to create a cross-breeze. This arrangement works well if there’s a gentle rain falling since those windows closer to the walls are likely covered by the home’s eaves. 

The best way to determine which of these designs for Ottawa windows is right for your home is to work closely with a contractor. Consider the merits associated with each one and talk about what the bow or bay style would accomplish. Remember to determine if you want sashes to open or if all the windows should be fixed. It won’t take long to choose the best style, select the proper elements, and have the new windows in place.


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