What is a bay or a bow window?

If you are asking the questions “What is a bay or a bow window, and when should I choose one for my home?”, you may receive several different answers. Let’s start with just a basic definition of each style.


Soft-Lite Bay window with copper roof and decorative glass
Soft-Lite Bay window with copper roof and decorative glass


Bay: A bay window is made up of three windows in a wood frame that’s projecting outward from the main walls of a building and forming a bay in a room. Bay window is a generic term for all protruding window constructions, regardless of height. The most common inside angles are 15, 30 and 45 degrees. Traditionally, the center window is larger than the end units.


Soft-Lite Bow Window in Light Oak
Soft-Lite Bow Window in Light Oak


Bow: A bow window, or compass window, is an equally curved bay window with three to six openings. Bow windows are designed to create space by projecting beyond the exterior wall of a building, and typically incorporate casement windows, which join together to form an equal arch or radius of 10 and 15 degrees.

Now that you know the difference between the two styles, the question that most often gets asked is where will one of these window fit? The simple answer is in any home with an opening at least 48 1/2” wide. Typically a bay or a bow would replace a series of windows or an existing bay or bow in the home. Most are in the front of the house and are the focal point of the house, offering a distinctive beauty that other window styles don’t. A bay or a bow can totally change the exterior look of a house and give it some real curb appeal. From the inside, it makes the existing room look bigger.

By choosing a bay or bow window for your home, you allow yourself the opportunity not only to be different, but also, if done correctly, create a new space for your home that is as comfortable as it is beautiful!

Find an experienced SoftLite dealer near you.

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