Bay Window Guide: What to Know Before Installing One

Bay windows add interest to the interior and exterior of a house, making them a popular choice for home upgrades.

Bay Window

They are an excellent natural light source, can provide up to three feet of extra space, and boost your home’s curb appeal. But since bay windows are expensive and tedious to install – it’s important to choose a design you’ll love for years to come.

Here’s a look at the types, costs, and features of bay windows.


What is a Bay Window?

A bay window is a type of projection window. It contains a set of three windows or panels (sometimes five) that are angled and protrude from the home’s exterior wall.

You’re probably used to seeing the standard, or canted, bay window, but there are a few more types.

Canted/Standard Bay Window

The canted bay window is the most common. It features a flat front window and two angled side windows. Canted bay windows have semi-sharp angles and are found only on the first floor of homes.

Canted windows are a top choice if you want something large. They provide plenty of natural sunlight and offer a big spot for a window seat.

Oriel Bay Windows

Oriel Bay windows are the oldest and most traditional type. These windows stick out of the wall but don’t touch the ground. Instead, corbels or brackets support them. Architects typically place oriel windows on a home’s second or third story.

Box/Square Bay Windows

Box bay windows, also known as flat bay windows, have one flat window on the front and two side windows at 90-degree angles. The setup looks like a box, which is where this type of window gets its name.


How Much Do Bay Windows Cost?

While the cost of bay windows varies according to size, material, and required prep work, the average price ranges from $1,200 to $2,600. Installation is $100-$300. The installation cost is higher than average since bay windows are heavier and more challenging to install than standard windows.

If you want to replace your old bay window, the typical cost is $1,800.

How Much Do Bay Window Seats Cost?

Homeowners love bay windows for the seating nook they create. But, as cozy as window seating is, it’s not free.

If you want a bay window with seating, expect to pay a carpenter about $500 – $1,000. But, of course, the price will vary depending on the size of your window and the materials you’d like to use.

If you’re handy, you can cut costs by building the window seat yourself.


What are the Most Common Sizes for Bay Windows?

You can find bay windows that range from 3 to 10.5 feet wide and 3 to 6.5 feet high. If you want to pick up a bay window at a home improvement store, the most common sizes are 72 to 92 inches wide and 48 to 60 inches high.


Where Can You Buy a Bay Window?

If you’re looking to get a bay window fast, you can order one from a major home improvement store, like Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards, for store pick-up or delivery. But, depending on the window, the wait times can be as much as four months.

If you want a custom size window or would like to explore all of your options, these top window brands all offer bay windows:

Do Bay Windows Open?


The nice thing about bay windows is that they consist of three to five windows, and you can choose how they operate. For example, a typical bay window setup will have a middle picture window with outside windows that open for ventilation.

The outside windows can be single-hung, double-hung, or casement style, depending on your preferences.


What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bay Windows?

Bay windows create a focal point on a home’s exterior and add space for window seating, a reading nook, or a spot to put seasonal decor.

Pros:

  • Add extra space to the room – Most homeowners love bay windows for the extra space they provide.
  • Great natural light source – If you want to increase the amount of natural light in your home, these large windows will help you achieve that goal.
  • Boost curb appeal – Bay windows are an architectural detail that can boost curb appeal and increase the value of your home.

Cons:

  • Privacy issues – Since bay windows are large, they may allow passersby to see inside your home unless you add window treatments.
  • Expensive – Adding a bay window to your home is a considerable expense as these windows are much more costly than standard flat windows.
  • A lot of prep work for new windows – If you’re installing brand new bay windows in your home, a lot of prep work will go into making sure the frame is strong enough to support the weight of the windows. The prep work will be an additional expense.

What’s the Difference Between a Bay Window and a Garden Window?

bay vs garden window

If you’re trying to choose the right type of window for your home and want something that extends past an exterior wall, bay and garden windows both work. But even though these types of windows share similarities, they aren’t the same.

Garden windows are much smaller than bay windows. They are all glass and protrude from the home, acting as a mini greenhouse. These windows are primarily in kitchens, but you can install them in any room.

Bay windows are much larger, featuring three to five windows that jut out from the exterior wall. They leave a large nook inside you can utilize as window seating.

Bay windows are much more expensive than garden windows since they’re larger. Bay windows are an excellent choice to create a focal point in your home, while garden windows work well as an accent.


How Do You Clean a Bay Window?

The method to clean your bay window depends on the type. A typical bay window has a picture window in the center with a single or double-hung window on either side.

If your setup includes all double-hung windows with a tilt-in feature, you can clean the outside of your windows by tilting them in.

In most situations, you’ll need to clean the inside of your bay windows with a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. For the outside, you’ll need to purchase a window cleaner with an extendable rod so that you clean the hard-to-reach areas.


Are There Modern Bay Windows?

Bay windows are not just for traditional houses. Consider a box bay window in black framing if you want a modern take. Black framing always looks chic and contemporary, while the box style has clean lines that lend to a modern or minimal aesthetic.


Bay Window vs. Alcove or Bump Out: Which is Best?

Bay windows, alcoves, and bump-outs all gain you a few feet of extra space. But, the best one depends upon your needs.

For example, a bay window will provide natural light and give you a place to put bench seating. The bench seating is helpful if you’re adding the window to a kitchen or dining room.

A bump out or alcove will also gain you a few feet of extra space – potentially more than a bay window. You can outfit a bump-out with a window of your choice if you’d like. Either option will likely cost thousands of dollars.


Are Bay and Bow Windows the Same?

Bay Vs. Bow Windows

Bay and bow windows protrude from a home’s exterior but are different. A bay window consists of 3-5 panels, and a bow window consists of 4-6 windows. Bow windows have a much softer angle than bay windows.

Bay and bow windows provide a nook you can utilize as window seating, but a typical bay window has more depth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How many curtains does it take for a bay window?

The amount of curtains for your bay window depends on your setup. If you’re using a standard straight rod on the outside wall of the window, you only need two panels – one on each side. Consider four panels if you’re using a curtain rod that goes inside the window nook. You can place a curtain on each outside corner and an additional curtain in each inside corner.

What should you put under a bay window outside?

If you want to see out of your bay window, avoid planting shrubs or trees directly in front or underneath it. Instead, consider low ground cover plants or leave the area bare.

What can you replace a bay window with?

You can easily replace a bay window with a bow or picture window. Depending on the size, you may also be able to replace it with twin double-hung windows.

Can bay windows leak?

Any windows can leak. The chances of bay window leaks increase with improper installation and age.

Do bay windows have screens?

Operable bay windows will likely come with screens. If your bay window doesn’t have a screen, you can add one.

Final Thoughts

Adding a bay window to your home can boost curb appeal, provide you with a source of light, and add up to three feet of extra space to your room. These windows are ideal for reading nooks, window seats, and as a way to display your favorite seasonal decor.

The biggest drawback to bay windows is that they’re expensive. On average, you can expect to shell out around $2,000 for a replacement window and even more if you need new framing.