Whichever bay window you're considering, review the following five questions before you buy. What size window? It's easier and cheaper to put in a bay the same size or smaller than the old window. A wider bay requires a larger opening and a new header — and typically adds $300 to $500 to the job. However, a larger window will bring more light into the room and create a greater visual impact inside and out. What type of sash? There's no set rule regarding which style sash — either casement or double-hung — a bay should have. Often, the bay sash match those on the other windows on the home, but they don't have to. Pick the style you like best. Taller, narrower bays usually look better with casement sash. Shorter units are most attractive with double-hung sash. You'll also find that the center window of a bay usually is fixed. But it, too, can be ordered with operable casement or double-hung sash in smaller sizes. How is the window supported? Bay windows must be supported from below with braces or from above with steel cables bolted to the overhead framing. Both systems work well, but support cables are much less obtrusive because they're hidden inside the window frame. Not all manufacturers offer support cables, but they can be bought separately and adapted for use on virtually any bay window. Is there an eave above the window? Bay windows often are tucked beneath an eave, with the space between the window top and underside of the soffit filled with insulation and hidden by trim boards. Before choosing a bay window, measure the depth of the eave horizontally. Then order a unit that's shallow enough to fit beneath it if you can. Most 30-degree bay windows are 12 to 14 inches deep, and 45-degree units range from about 16 to 22 inches deep. Box bays and 60-degree bays usually are about 18 to 24 inches deep. What if there's no eave above it? When a bay window is installed on a gabled end or in the middle of a wall — and there's no roof overhang right above it — a small roof, or skirt, must be built over it. Roof skirts must also be built above any window that sticks out beyond an overhanging eave. Finally, be sure your remodeling contractor has experience installing bay windows, especially if the old opening must be enlarged. Even some window-replacement specialists aren't familiar with the idiosyncrasies of putting in bays.
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