Understand Bow and Bay Windows
Bow and bay windows are similar in nature. Some people use the two terms interchangeably but in the construction world, this is not the case. Both types extend out from the exterior wall of a building and allow sunlight to floor into a room. Each type also makes a room appear larger; however, there are some unique differences.
Bay windows have three openings that are angled out and away from the house, primarily consisting of a picture window with two other, smaller windows on either side. This center window is typically a fixed picture window that is considerably larger than the flanker windows on either side. Bay windows extend out further from the wall to add slightly more floor space on the interior.
Bow windows have four or five smaller windows of the same size that also protrude out from an exterior wall but are more curved in shape to create a rounded appearance on the outside of the home. The set-up is often called four-bow lite and five-bow lite. These windows are more symmetrical and tend to allow more right in the room. You can also wrap bow windows around the corner of the house for a unique look.
Both types create a focal point in a room, usually a living room or a family room. Choose a bay window if you want a larger picture window, window seat and flanker windows that can be opened and closed for ventilation. Bay windows can be hexagonal, octagonal, or square in shape and can offer extended views. The angular lines of bay windows are often more appropriate for homes with modern architecture.
Because of their curved nature, bow windows are more appropriate for homes with traditional architecture, such as Victorian residences.