What Is Bow Window?

What Is Bow Window?

What Is Bow Window?

A bow window, also known as a compass window, is a type of bay window that features a curved design. This style of window projects beyond the exterior wall of a building, creating more interior space and providing a wider view of the surrounding area.

Unlike traditional bay windows which usually have three sides, bow windows typically consist of four or more windows that are joined together to form an arch. The windows used in bow windows are often casement windows and they can vary in size as they are usually custom-made to fit specific requirements.

Bow windows were first introduced in the 18th century in the UK and became popular in the Federal period in the United States. They are known for their stunning panoramic views, which are made possible by their three to six glass panels of equal proportion.

These windows are a great way to increase natural light in a home and create a cozy nook for window seating or decorative displays. They also add classic elegance to a home’s exterior increasing its curb appeal. A famous example of a bow window can be found at White’s Club in St. James’s Street, London.

When Is A Bow Window A Good Idea?

Bow windows are a great idea when you need to add more space to your home, improve your view, allow in more natural light, enhance the look of the house, or create an area for a specific use.

In comparison to bay windows, bow windows can bring in more light, make rooms appear bigger and have varying window pane sizes. They are perfect for adding seating areas, adding storage or simply accenting a room.

What’s The Difference Between Bow And Bay Windows?

Bow and bay windows are two types of projection windows that differ in their appearance and construction. Bay windows are characterized by three glass panels, with the largest panel in the middle and two smaller panels on either side.

The panels are set at 30, 45, or 90-degree angles, creating a unique nook inside the room. This type of window is often built with a bench to create a window seat. Bow windows, on the other hand, feature four to six glass panels of equal size with gentle arcs and 10-degree angles.

They protrude less from the walls than bay windows and are more commonly found in Victorian-style homes. Bow windows tend to be more expensive than bay windows, even for equal sizes, due to the use of more panels. However, bay windows typically offer more space for window seating.

Does A Bow Window Open?

Most bow windows open, usually by way of a casement style with a hinge at the side and a crank to open outward toward the left or right. Some bow windows are single-hung with a fixed upper sash and lower sash that is pushed upward to open. However, not all bow windows open as some older homes may have stationary ones.

What Is The Average Size Of A Bow Window?

The average size of a bow window is about 5 feet in width and 4 feet in height. However, the exact size can vary depending on the space available and personal preferences.

Pros And Cons Of Bow Windows

Choosing between a bow window and another type of window requires careful consideration of the pros and cons of each option.


On the one hand, bow windows offer several benefits that can greatly enhance the look and feel of a home. For example, they add a timeless and attractive style that works well with both modern and older homes.

They also provide plenty of natural light due to their four to six panels, and the bowed shape of the window can create an inviting space for a bench or reading nook. Additionally, bow windows allow for panoramic views outside and can be customized to fit the homeowner’s specific needs and preferences.


However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One major disadvantage is the cost, as bow windows are often custom-made and can cost almost double the price of a comparable bay window. Additionally, the large expanse of windows can also be a privacy issue, allowing outsiders to see inside the home.

Furthermore, bow windows can also present challenges for furniture arrangement, especially in smaller rooms where they occupy a lot of wall space. Ultimately, the choice between a bow window and another type of window should be based on a careful consideration of these pros and cons.

Are Bow Windows Outdated?

Although bow windows are not as common as bay windows in modern homes, they are far from outdated; their timelessness and curb appeal more than make up for the higher cost. Bow windows remain a classic choice for homeowners who appreciate a certain period-style look that can be achieved with this type of window design.

Can You Replace A Bow Window With A Bay Window?

Replacing a bow window with a bay window is generally possible, though it is always best to check with a contractor or window installer beforehand to ensure that the existing framing is adequate for the switch.

This is essential as not all window types are compatible with all types of framing, and an incompatible combination could lead to structural issues down the line.

Therefore, if you’re considering changing from one type of window to another, make sure you have professional advice and/or assistance on whether the existing framework will be able to accommodate your desired new addition.

Related Posts

error: Content is protected !!