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What is the Difference Between a Bow and Bay Window?

If you're considering upgrading your home's windows, you might have come across the terms "bow windows" and "bay windows." While these two styles are often mentioned together, they have distinct differences that can impact the look and feel of your home. 

In this blog post, we’ll help you understand the key differences so you can make an informed decision.

A photo 5 faceted bay window taken from inside the property

Bow Windows

Bow windows are designed to create a gentle curve, typically using three or more casement windows, coupled together, on top of a welded sill and purpose-made bow base which follows the same shape as the bow window and its facets, as it projects out. They can also be covered by their own purpose-made decorative roof canopies. 

We can supply and install the necessary components to replace an existing bow window or carry out a “flat-to-bow” conversion, which is where a conventional flat (casement) window is converted into a bow window, by installing an entirely new bow base and roof canopy. 

Their curved arrangement allows for bow windows to extend beyond the exterior wall of your home, offering a panoramic view and enhancing the natural light that enters the room. The graceful curve of bow windows adds a touch of elegance to any home. They are perfect for creating a rounded, softer exterior profile. This design is particularly suitable for Victorian-style homes or properties that benefit from a classic, timeless look.

Bow windows provide a more expansive view due to their curved design, making them ideal for rooms where you want to maximise natural light and enjoy a broader outlook. They can also create a cosy nook inside your home, perfect for seating or displaying decorative items.

A photo of an angular bay window taken from outside the property

Bay Windows

Bay windows, on the other hand, most often consist of three or more windows arranged in either a curved shape or a square shape, as pictured. The crucial difference is that the wall below a bay window follows the same shape in plan view as the window itself. They can be square or curved, with the shape determined by the angles of the facets required, and might consist of anywhere from 2 to 5 facets or more.

Bay windows add a dramatic architectural feature to your home. Their angular design creates a striking exterior profile, making them a popular choice for modern and traditional homes alike. 

The angular design of bay windows creates more interior space, and is often used for additional seating or storage. The protrusion adds depth to your room, making it feel larger and more open. Bay windows also provide excellent ventilation, as the side windows can usually be opened to allow fresh air to flow through.

What are the key differences between bow and bay windows?

Shape and Design

Bow Windows: Often a gentle curve with four or more windows, but can be made in as little as 2 facets, for example a feature bow window like an oriel window. Bow windows protrude further than the wall, and are often self supporting, or are supported by gallows brackets or suchlike underneath. They often have their own roof canopy over the top.


Bay Windows: The walls follow the shape of the bay window, unlike with the bow window, so you have additional floor space with a bay window. This means you can walk into that additional space, where the walls follow the shape  of the projecting bay window.  


Bow Windows: Create a softer exterior profile, ideal for a classic look, and give a more delicate appearance.

Bay Windows: Offer a more imposing and dramatic profile that suits various architectural styles and can increase floor space and the feeling of extra space.

Interior Space

Bow Windows: Provide a large curved window shelf perfect for decorative displays.

Bay Windows: Create a protruding space, adding depth and giving additional floor space or the  potential for storage or seating etc.

View and Light

Both offer a panoramic view and enhance natural light with their protruding curved designs. Both bow and bay windows provide a broad outlook with distinct angles, and allow for excellent ventilation.

Making the Right Choice

When deciding between bow and bay windows, consider your home's architectural style, your preferences, and how you plan to use the additional space these windows provide. Both styles offer unique benefits and can significantly enhance the beauty and living space of your home.

At ZEN Windows and Conservatories, we specialise in helping homeowners like you choose the perfect windows to complement your home. Whether you prefer the elegance of bow windows or the dramatic impact of bay windows, our team of experts is here to guide you through the process and ensure an expert installation.

Experience the ZEN difference. Get in touch with us today and book your free no-obligation home visit. Call us on 0117 321 5540.


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