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bow windows on a san francisco house

A Guide to Bow Window Prices (2024)

Typical cost range: $1,500–$15,000

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Bow windows cost homeowners an average of $3,900 but typically range from $1,500–$15,000 per window. See which factors will impact your total cost.

Author Image Written by Jessica Wimmer Updated 06/10/2024

The average cost of bow windows is $3,900, though a prefabricated set may be as low as $1,500. A newly constructed, customized bow window could cost as much as $15,000.* Many of the best replacement window brands offer bow windows in prefabricated sets, but you can also customize them according to your desired look and function. Learn more about the factors that affect this price and get shopping tips.

*Article cost data sourced from Fixr and Home Advisor.

What Are Bow Windows?

A bow window is a set of four to six windows, arranged in a semicircle, projecting slightly from a home’s exterior wall. It typically consists of tall picture windows, also called fixed lites, that don’t open. Bow windows allow in more natural light than most other window styles, including standard double-hung windows. They also greatly enhance aesthetics and curb appeal, serving as a lovely focal point for a home’s interior and exterior.

Bow Windows vs. Bay Windows

Bow windows are similar in appearance and function to bay windows, though there are notable differences between the two. Both are projection windows, meaning they protrude from the house’s side, but a bay window usually projects farther, creating a small alcove inside the house. The alcove space can be used for storage or a window seat. 

A bow window is formed by four to six windows, while a bay window usually only contains three: a fixed center window and two flanking windows offset by about 45 degrees. These side windows may be fixed, but they’re usually operable casement windows.

Bay window installation costs slightly less than bow window installation since there are fewer windows to install, though both are expensive because they require you to tear down and rebuild a portion of your wall. A bow window’s narrower profile means it can be built closer to a sidewalk or street, but it doesn’t create the same interior nook as a bay window. Bay windows with operable side windows offer ventilation that bow windows typically don’t. However, bow windows often have slightly better energy efficiency because fixed windows are less likely to leak.

What Major Factors Affect the Price of Bow Windows?

Bow window costs are primarily determined by size, frame material, energy efficiency, and labor prices.

  • Frame material: Vinyl bow windows cost less than windows framed in wood, fiberglass, or composite.
  • Window size: Larger windows come with higher material and installation costs than smaller windows.
  • Energy-efficient features: Windows with treated or multipaned glass cost more.
  • Labor: More complex and time-consuming installations cost more.

Bow Window Material

In general, window frames are typically made of vinyl, aluminum, wood, or fiberglass. Bow windows are most commonly available in vinyl and wood. Both materials make for energy-efficient windows when insulated and properly maintained, but vinyl is far less expensive.

Cost by Material

Here are some average unit costs for standard-size windows by frame material.

Frame MaterialCost Range









Window Size and Design

Standard window sizes don’t typically apply to bow windows. Instead, each window is fitted to the available space and the desired semicircle size in which they’re arranged. Each window is typically tall and narrow, and all individual windows have identical dimensions. This is unlike a bay window, where the center window is often larger than the side windows. 

Because bow windows are so large, they let in a great deal of natural light. If the individual windows aren’t properly sealed and insulated, they can also allow heat to transfer into or out of the home. This can force the home’s HVAC system to work harder. Investing in windows with energy-efficient features costs a bit more up-front, but you’ll save in the long term on utility bills.

A fiberglass frame provides the best insulation, but wood is also a reasonably good natural insulator. Vinyl frames are often hollow but can be filled with extra insulation for added energy efficiency.

Window glass with a low-e coating, short for low-emissivity, can reflect infrared and UV radiation without blocking visible light. This prevents solar heat from transferring through the glass and helps prevent fading and sun damage to objects near the window. A low-e coating adds 10%–15% to the window’s price.

Another way to block heat transfer is to use multiple glass panes in a single window. Double-pane glass is appropriate for most climates, and a double-pane window replacement costs $300–$1,540. For more extreme climates, triple-pane windows may be more appropriate; these replacement windows typically cost $550–$3,290.

The space between these glass panes is usually filled with a nontoxic noble gas, which provides more insulation than regular air. Most double-pane windows are filled with argon gas. Triple-pane windows typically contain krypton gas.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labels windows as Energy Star-certified if they meet certain energy efficiency standards. These windows have insulated frames, at least two panes, and often coated glass. 

Labor Costs

Installing or replacing a bow window nearly always requires hiring professional window contractors, so you must factor labor into your project cost. This will add between $300 and $1,200 per window. Alternatively, you may pay an hourly rate of $40–$75 per hour. Window installation costs will be higher if new construction is required to create the bow window’s necessary wall shape.

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Can You Install a Bow Window Yourself?

Installing this type of window is not a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. Here’s why.

DIY Installation

Installing new bow windows usually means altering the wall’s structure to create the proper shape. This requires carpentry, drywall, and potentially roofing and electrical skills. Even if you’re just replacing glass in an existing bay window opening, the non-standard size and shape of each pane will make the job more difficult. We don’t recommend homeowners attempt this themselves.

Professional Installation

Professional contractors have detailed permit and building code knowledge and can finish an installation quickly and efficiently. A professional installation allows you to maintain your new materials warranty and sometimes a workmanship warranty.

Depending on your project’s scope, you may encounter the following additional cost factors.

Particularly if your window installer charges per hour, anything that increases the project time will also increase the cost. This includes windows installed in difficult-to-access areas. For example, a bow window’s appeal is often its view, so the labor costs will likely be higher if you’re installing one that overlooks a steep hill or cliffside.

The individual windows within a bow window are called lites. Most bow windows have between four and six lites. As you might expect, the more lites you have and the larger they are, the more the project will cost. Since bow windows have more lites than bay windows, they tend to cost more.

Manufacturers who offer bow windows often sell sets of four to six lites in a limited range of sizes, colors, and frame materials. If you want more customization options, prepare to pay substantially more. For example, most bow window lites are fixed windows with vinyl or wood frames. Choosing casement windows with fiberglass frames will come with extra costs. 

While customization allows you to make the project your own, if you’re looking for budget-friendly windows, a bow window isn’t your best option. If you’re taking on this renovation project to improve your home’s aesthetics, consider expanding your budget to create the precise look you want.

As previously noted, installing a new bow window requires more than just creating an opening. Often, you’ll need to rebuild part or all of the wall in a semicircle, which typically requires hiring multiple types of contractors to create a new wall frame, finish it with siding and drywall, and extend the roof over it. Here are some national average prices for the various specialties involved.

  • Drywall: $1.50–$3.00 per square foot
  • Framing: $500–$2,000
  • Roofing: $400–$2,000
  • Siding: $3–$12 per square foot

Bow windows don’t offer as many choices as other window options, but some brands do have more than one set. Pella and Marvin bow windows will be slightly less expensive than Andersen and Simonton bow windows. Here are some typical costs for materials only.

Window BrandCost Range









A bow window’s lites are typically fixed, meaning they don’t open. If you want ventilation from your bow window, you can install operable windows. Casement windows, which are hinged on one side and open outward, are often the most natural choice, as they tend to be tall and narrow. Single- or double-hung windows are also an option. Single-hung windows have one operable sash, usually the lower sash, and double-hung windows have two sashes that can be raised and lowered.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Bow Windows

Here are some factors to consider when comparing bow windows.

  • Window quality and durability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Window operability
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Customization
  • Warranty

How To Save on Bow Window Prices

Even though this isn’t a DIY project, you can still save with the following tips.
Limit your customizations as much as possible and choose a prefabricated set of lites from a top-rated window brand.
Choose a smaller bow window design that contains only four lites.
Balance up-front costs with long-term savings by taking durability and energy efficiency into account.
Most window companies offer a free quote on their services, so gather at least three estimates to get an idea of the local price range.
Window contractors are typically busiest in spring and early summer and may charge more for labor during this time. Have your bow window installed during the offseason.

Is Bow Window Installation Worth It?

Installing a bow window is a complex project that involves altering your home’s structure, but it also creates a beautiful focal point that maximizes views and natural light. Plan the project carefully and consider all options. Prefabricated sets of lites are less expensive, but customization gives you the most control over the end result.

If you’re choosing between a bow window and a bay window, consider the amount of space you have to work with as well as your budget and need for ventilation. Bow windows create a smaller exterior profile and are often more energy-efficient, but they’re more expensive and offer less ventilation than bay windows.

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FAQs About Bow Window Prices

How much do bow windows cost?

Bow windows usually cost between $1,500 and $15,000, but the national average is $3,900.

Do you need a roof on a bow window?

Similar to bay windows, bow windows usually require a small roof extension over the window alcove’s exterior profile.

Are bow windows cheaper than bay windows?

Bow windows are more expensive than similarly sized bay windows because they contain more windows and are often larger. A bay window costs an average of $2,350, whereas a bow window has an average cost of $3,900.

What are the features of a bow window?

Bow windows consist of four to six lites, or individual windows, of the same size and shape arranged in a semicircle. This semicircle protrudes from the building’s exterior profile.

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