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Windows

Bow Windows Buying Guide

Average cost:

$750 - $1,700

Bow windows are higher-end windows that tend to cost more than other window types, but can add resale value and comfort to your home. The cost to install a bow window can range between $750 and $1,700. The total cost of the window replacement depends on the bow window brand, size, and material, as well as local labor costs.

Replacement Bow Windows

Few things brighten a home and enhance outside views like bow windows. It’s why bow and bay windows are also called “projection” windows.

Bow windows offer many tangible benefits to homeowners. They add dramatic visual appeal to a room while maximizing interior room space, and they also enhance your home’s exterior architectural design. Bow windows do more than just let the view in — they allow you to create unique places within a room, from a cozy reading or daydreaming nook to an alcove with comfortable window seating where you can enjoy a relaxing cup of morning coffee and see what the weather’s like as you start your day. Or you can use the space to simply create more shelving and interior storage.

Modernize created this guide to bow windows to help homeowners learn more about the benefits and costs associated with these popular projection windows. Read on to learn how to choose bow windows, top bow window manufacturers, bow window pricing, and much more.

bay vs bow windows


Bow Windows vs. Bay Windows

Both types of windows jut out from the home’s exterior and provide additional interior space, but there are some key differences between bow and bay windows.

Bay windows typically are framed with three angled sides and have three projection windows. Oftentimes, these windows are fixed, but that’s homeowner preference — many homeowners choose to install replacement bay windows that open on each side of a large fixed center pane. Bay windows can also be framed with five sides, or panels, which makes the angles much softer. Framing angles for bay windows typically protrude at 15, 30 or 45 degrees depending upon how many windows are being used — 45 degrees creates the common three-panel bay window most often used in modern residential construction.

Bow windows, sometimes called compass windows, are framed in a gently curving arc that typically utilizes between four and six windows. Bow windows often have several fixed picture windows for the middle panels with two ventilation windows installed at each end. Alternatively, you can opt for casement windows so you can open each panel using a small hand crank at the base of the windows.

Because of their unique semicircular design, bow windows are more common in Victorian and other classic architectural styles, while bay windows are more common in modern design approaches. However, either style can add flair to the interior and exterior of your home.
bow window visual illustration
Angular bay windows stick out a bit more, which increases your home’s interior floor space, while multi-panel bow windows are best for increasing interior lighting. Bow windows also are usually much wider than bay windows. Lastly, bow windows can be wrapped around a corner, creating a turret-shaped design that provides unmatched viewing angles and interesting interior design options.


Choosing Bow Windows

Windows are not created equally, and there are many different manufacturers that can provide homeowners with replacement bow windows or bow window packages for new construction.

Window frames can be made from vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass or wood — and costs vary greatly between these different materials. As with any window, vinyl-framed windows are typically the least expensive, while full wood windows are always at the top of replacement window pricing. If you decide to install bow windows in your home, you can lean heavily on the experience of home improvement contractors in your area to help you determine which materials are best suited for your project, location and budget.


How Much Do Bow Windows Cost?

Generally speaking, bow windows cost roughly three times the price of standard windows — there’s a great deal of framing involved to create the rounded openings for the windows and to tie the window opening into the rest of the roofline. There’s also additional costs if you want to add interior seating or storage to the inside of your bow window. A general window installation company won’t handle that extra add-on, either — you will have to hire a licensed finish carpenter and also a painter to complete the job.

You can use our handy window replacement calculator to get a baseline idea of what replacement bow window installation will cost in your area. Key factors that affect bow window replacement cost include type of window, sizes, energy efficiency rating and frame style. Installation costs also can vary greatly between licensed window contractors.

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Bow Window Prices by Brand

Bow Window Prices By Brand 2021
Bow Window BrandsPrice Per WindowInstallation Costs
Pella Bow Window$750$900
Marvin Bow Window$799$1000
Simonton Prism Bow Window$1,100$1,450
Andersen 400 Series Bow Window$1,565$1,700

Bow Window Options and Features

Many types of windows can be purchased in pre-manufactured packages, but bow windows are almost always completely custom-made since there’s no standard sizes for the arched openings.

Homeowners have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing new bow windows, however. Options and features include:

  • Window type. Double-hung, fixed and casement windows are the most common types of bow windows.
  • Frame materials. Your choice of frame materials in large part dictates materials cost. Vinyl-framed bow windows will always be less expensive than custom-built wood windows. Additional options include aluminum, or wood windows clad in either vinyl, aluminum or a composite material that helps protect your investment from weather damage.
  • Glass. Bow windows can be single, double or triple paned, and the latter two options can be filled with argon or krypton gas between the panes to help increase energy efficiency. A rule of thumb is that thicker windows, such as triple-paned, gas-filled windows, are much more expensive, but you’ll reap continual rewards through noise reduction and increased thermal efficiency.
  • Color and Finish. Wood windows can be stained in a vast array of colors to match or complement any interior or exterior design scheme. Vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass framed windows, on the other hand, typically have a much smaller range of color options.
  • Screens and window grilles. There are many options for grilles that divide fixed window panes into grids (also called lites) to create an entirely different aesthetic. Windows screens are fairly standard.
  • Hardware. Window hardware also comes in many different styles and finishes, from simple white to matte black, polished or satin steel, copper, satin nickel, pewter and more.


The Bottom Line on Bow Windows

The graceful curve of bow windows adds sophistication and elegance to most types of architecture. They are an excellent way to increase interior room space, capture outdoor views, increase natural lighting and add flair to flat exterior walls.

Bow windows can be made to accommodate most standard window openings, and the wide range of styles, features and color options allow homeowners to create truly unique window designs for their homes. While bow windows are far from budget-friendly, they can truly change the visual appearance of your home both inside and out.