Bow Windows

Bow windows are a unique and creative take on the traditional bay window. For many years, bay windows have used several smaller windows to create a single windowed area with a panoramic view extending from the exterior of the main structure. A traditional bay is squared and angular, which creates a windowed alcove. Bow windows, by contrast, have a softened look and feel, using curved windows to create a more gentle and unique shape.

“Bow windows can lend a distinctive and special touch to any structure. While a gentle arc can give a home an old-world feel, a deeper window can bring a more modern and bold feel. The ability to customize the shape and style of the bow can make the window an excellent choice for any home. Bringing the exterior garden inside, a bow window adds beauty and brightness to any room.”

bow window

Basics Of Bow Windows

Since the 1700s bow windows have allowed people to enjoy outdoor gardens as a part of their indoor space. Originating in Britain, bow windows allow someone to enjoy the outdoor view while staying warm and dry in all weather. They have been in existence for hundreds of years, but bay windows have traditionally been much more common in the United States.

One of the aesthetic qualities that makes bow windows unique is the ability to customize curvature. A shallower curve can lend a softer feel to the structure, while a true half-circle creates a stronger and bolder statement. Bringing light and fresh air into a room can make it feel larger and more inviting. Whether added to one level or every story of the home, they can enhance or change the overall atmosphere of the home.

Cost & Pricing

Bow window prices will vary widely as they involve not only the windows, but also framing, carpentry and finish work. Simply replacing the current bows or bay windows will be on the lower range of window prices and costs while enlarging or altering the opening involves quite a bit of installation work that will tend towards the high end of the pricing range.

— Price Range: $1400 to $5200 fully installed —

Bow Window Options

Some bow windows only include a frame and glass. Others may include a seat or paneling for a part of the window with only the top and middle sections providing a view. Beyond the aesthetic differences, seating and other features can provide some insulating properties and protect from moisture invasion. Using gas-filled multi-paned windows or thermal window dressings can also help improve energy efficiency.

When introducing a bow window to a structure, the roof must also be considered. Depending on the overhang of the current roof, the new window may fit under the existing coverage. A separate roof section may need to be added. Some designers opt for a clear glass greenhouse style roof for the bow window, bringing in additional sunlight.

bow window

Common Configurations

There are several options available when designing bow windows. The most common configurations are sets of 4-6 panels at 10-15 degrees. These can be customized as desired to create any depth of curve desired. The homeowner can choose from a variety of window types, although casements are most commonly seen. Bow windows often have a combination of operable and fixed windows of varying types. Often the end panels can open while the center sections are fixed.

As the window is cantilevered some extra support is required. Various support methods may be utilized depending on the surrounding structure. Chain support systems and knee braces are common along with alterations to the surrounding floor. The exposure to the elements is also something that must be compensated for. Unlike those that lay flat against the home, bow windows have increased exposure to weather conditions such as winds and rain. Additional insulation, gas-filled windows, and other energy efficient window features can increase the life of the structure while keeping the energy exchange to a minimum.