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Bay vs. Bow Windows (2024 Guide)

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Author Icon Written by Jessica Wimmer Updated 04/17/2024

Bay and bow windows may look similar, but the slight differences are what make them stand out. Both are a set of windows that protrude from your home. However, bay windows are angled and typically consist of a picture window with two smaller windows on either side, while bow windows are more rounded, containing four to six casement windows.

Our guide details how bay and bow windows compare on cost, materials, and types.

*Article cost data via Angi, Home Advisor, and Pella.

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New Windows in Home
Window Replacement

Window replacement typically costs $300–$2,000 per window, depending on the window type.

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Window Repair

Window repair typically costs $177–$623, but it can vary based on the type of repair.

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Window Cleaning Cost

Window cleaning typically costs $80–$430 for an entire home.


What Is a Bay Window?

A bay window is made of three windows: one large, inoperable window at the center and two smaller, operable windows on either side. The two smaller windows—casement or double-hung windows—angle away from the home’s walls to meet the center window. Bay windows are commonly used in transitional and contemporary home styles but also work in traditional homes such as cottages or Victorian.

Bay windows often serve as a room’s centerpiece, bringing in natural light through the main picture window. Picture windows provide an unobstructed outdoor view, while the narrow side windows open, allowing fresh air into the room.




The cost of a bay window ranges from $900 for a small window with single-pane glass up to $7,100 for a large, customized, energy-efficient window. Labor for installation adds another $300–$1,000 per window. The material quality, window size, and brand greatly affect its price. Extra features such as a built-in window seat or reading nook also impact price.

Your chosen framing material can change your overall bay window cost by thousands of dollars. Below are common options.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl is the most affordable bay window material, ranging from $570–$2,950. Vinyl requires little maintenance and is known for its durability.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum costs $360–$2,050 and is resistant to deterioration.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is another durable material suitable for large panes of glass without extra support. Expect to pay between $400 and $2,500 for this material.
  • Wood: Wood costs $880–$4,000 but requires regular staining and sealing. Wood also expands and contracts with humidity and fluctuating temperatures.

Bay windows come in various types and styles, ranging from $700–$2,500. Here are four different bay window types, including prices.

  • Box bay windows: This type of bay window is smaller and often found in kitchens. The flanking side windows meet the picture window at a 90-degree angle, similar to a box. Expect to pay around $700.
  • Canted bay windows: Canted windows, also known as full bay windows, are the classic style with a flat front window and angled sides. Canted bay windows cost $800–$2,100 each.
  • Circle bay windows: Circle bay windows have large glass panes in each section with smaller panes above the windows. This type costs around $2,500 and has more intricate moldings and details than other bay window types.
  • Oriel bay windows: Oriel bay windows are the oldest type of bay window, first appearing during the English Renaissance. They cost between $900 and $2,500 and are built into the home’s side. Because oriel bay windows don’t touch the ground, they need additional structural support.

What Is a Bow Window?

Bow windows, also called compass windows, have four or more equally sized glass sections arranged in a subtle curve. They extend outward from the house, but usually not as far as bay windows. Bow windows are referred to by the number of glass sections in the bow, such as four-lite bow, five-lite bow, or six-lite bow. This architectural style is often found in Victorian-style homes.

This window type is best for exterior walls or corners with 80 inches or more of space. Bow windows fill a large interior space better than bay windows. They can wrap around a home’s corner, resembling a turret shape on the home’s exterior.




A premade bow window costs as little as $1,500, but a custom window costs $15,000 or more. The cost of window replacement is $2,000–$4,500, but if you want to install a new window where one wasn’t previously installed, expect to pay between $3,000 and $10,000 or more.

Vinyl and wood are the most popular framing materials for a bow window, but you can find aluminum, fiberglass, or composite. Here’s what you can expect to pay for materials.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl is the most cost-effective material at $100–$900. It comes in premade designs and though you can’t paint or stain it, the material is durable and long-lasting. 
  • Composite: Bow windows with composite frames cost between $300 and $1,200. Composite refers to frame materials that combine elements such as plastic and wood fibers.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass bow windows cost $500–$1,500. This material is weatherproof and long-lasting.
  • Wood: Wood bow windows are the most expensive, ranging from $150–$1,300 per window for materials alone.

Bow windows come in various configurations, typically four to six glass sections, with a combination of different window styles. Bow windows with more operable sections almost always cost more.

  • Casement window: $150–$1,000 per window
  • Single-hung window: $100–$400 per window
  • Double-hung window: $150–$650 per window

Comparing Bay Windows vs. Bow Windows

Custom bow windows and additional features typically cost more than bay windows. For example, bow window installations require a soffit tie-in or an extended hip roof, which may necessitate hiring a structural engineer.

Bay WindowsBow Windows

Window Size

Exterior walls with at least 40 inches of space

Exterior walls or corners with at least 80 inches of space

Number of Windows

Three windows

Four or more windows

Special Features

• Energy-efficient glass • Glass coating • Interior trim finishes • Window seat

• Energy-efficient glass • Glass coating • Number of panes • Operable vs. inoperable

Available Materials

• Vinyl • Aluminum • Fiberglass • Wood

• Vinyl • Composite • Fiberglass • Wood


• Less expensive than bow windows • Boost curb appeal • Higher resale value

• Wider views • Bring in more natural light • Better airflow


• Take up more space outside of house • Limited light and views compared to bow windows

• Wider and heavier, so they’re harder to install • More expensive




Our Conclusion

Bay or bow windows can help boost your home’s curb appeal. They’re also great options for bringing in natural light, increasing airflow, or adding extra space for a cozy nook or storage. But there are key differences, and one type may suit your home more than the other.

Certain types of bay windows fit in small areas, but bow windows require at least 80 inches of space on an exterior wall or corner. We recommend consulting a window professional to determine the right type for your home and getting at least three quotes before hiring a company.

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FAQ About Bay vs. Bow Windows

What is better, a bow or a bay window?

Choosing a bay or bow window depends on your budget, wall space, and window style preference. Bow windows are more expensive than bay windows, but they’re wider and let in more air and natural light. Bay windows have more angular lines than bow windows, making them perfect for transitional and contemporary styles.

Can a bay window replace a bow window?

Yes, you can replace a bow window with a new bay window. Bay windows have fewer panels and can be smaller than bow windows, so your contractor must modify the window opening to accommodate its size and support requirements. Consult with a professional contractor or window specialist to help advise you on your specific circumstances.

Which is cheaper, bay or bow window?

Bow windows are up to 2.5 times as expensive as bay windows. Bow windows are more intricate than bay windows and typically require additional structural support. Bow windows are often customized to fit specific styles and design preferences, and the window’s curved nature makes it more challenging to install.

Our Rating Methodology

We are committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and data to support our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for window brands is on a 100-point scale based on five factors:

  • Installation process and provider benefits (15 points): We consider each provider’s overall installation process, including whether it offers in-home consultations, customization options, or other services such as roofing. We also consider whether the provider is available at easy-to-access retailers, such as The Home Depot or Lowe’s.
  • Warranty (15 points): We consider whether or not the provider offers a warranty, as well as if that warranty is limited or lifetime. 
  • BBB rating (10 points): We evaluate each company’s Better Business Bureau rating. Companies with higher scores receive more points. 
  • Pricing (10 points): We consider each provider’s average price range. Providers with a lower average price range receive more points than those with higher ones. 
  • Customer service (10 points): Does the company offer helpful customer service tools, such as an online request form or phone number? The more tools it offers, the higher its score.
  • Window features (15 points): We consider which window features a company offers, such as low-e coating, tilt-in sashes, and customization options. The more features a company provides, the higher the score. 
  • Window variety (10 points): The more window types a company offers, the higher the score.

Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.

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