The Benefits and Drawbacks of Installing Bay Windows

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett
Updated December 15, 2021
exterior house with bay windows
Photo: Spiroview Inc. / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Bay windows can add many benefits, like natural light and ventilation.

  • They can also have drawbacks like increasing indoor temperatures thanks to solar gain.

  • To decide if a bay window is worth it for your home, you’ll have to consider ROI and how often you’ll use the space.

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If you’ve ever walked by a house with a window that seems to break out from the home’s exterior, then you were probably admiring a bay window. This window style, which includes a center window flanked by two windows at 30 or 45-degree angles, is popular for a reason. However, if you’re considering adding one to your home, you’ll have to consider its benefits and drawbacks. 

Below we’ve rounded up some of the biggest pros—and cons—of adding bay windows to your home so you can decide if it’s a worthwhile investment.

Pros of Bay Windows

kitchen with bay window over sink
Photo: Jason / Adobe Stock

Whether you’re building a new home, buying a resale, or renovating an existing house, bay windows are an excellent option for many. If you’re trying to decide between a bow window versus a bay window, the following pros apply to both. 

Natural Light

Bay windows open interior spaces up to a flood of natural light. They allow sunlight to criss-cross the room, adding an ethereal atmosphere. Natural light can not only boost your mood, but can also reduce dependence on artificial light, lowering energy costs. 

If you’re looking to add a sunny reading nook or wake up to a flood of sunlight in your bedroom, bay windows can be a perfect touch. 

Increased Interior Design Options 

A bay window provides a room with extra space and more ways to show your interior design chops. You can build a custom window seat or put a cozy settee in a bedroom bay window. A small bistro table and chairs can transform a large bay window in the kitchen into a breakfast nook. A comfy accent chair and bookshelf make a bay window an ideal reading space. You have endless options here, depending on your style and the location.

Good Ventilation

Bay windows come with fixed or operational windows that can open and close. If the side windows of a bay window open, this can improve airflow. Bay windows can also usher in the cool breeze on a hot summer day or the fresh floral scent from flower boxes mounted just outside.

Increased Resale Value

You’ve likely admired a bay window on a home, so it stands to reason that potential buyers would appreciate it in your space too. Bay windows can increase the value of your home, not only because of their beauty but because they add some additional square footage. If you’re thinking of selling any time soon, this could be something to consider.

Window Treatments

Despite their unique design, you can actually choose from many fantastic window treatment options for bay windows. Roller shades, Roman shades, sheer shades, or even shutters—take your pick to deck out your bay windows.

Cons of Bay Windows

close up bay windows on brick house
Photo: Susan Vineyard / Adobe Stock

Bay windows are a perfect choice for many, but the drawbacks may rule them out for your home.

Solar Gain

More windows and glass can increase solar gain, which develops when sunlight generates heat as it hits or passes through different materials. Windows with higher solar gain make it more difficult to keep rooms cool. Using a higher grade of insulated windows can reduce solar gain. However, that will increase your cost. 

Possible Structural Issues 

If you don’t install a bay window correctly, you can have structural issues, including leaks, mold and premature decay. Bay windows are load-bearing, and if structurally unsound, can impact the walls in the rest of the room. If the bay window is finished with brick, sometimes cracks develop. 

The siding on bay windows may also loosen or buckle, which could also indicate serious problems with your foundation. Over time, some poorly installed bay windows may start to lean away from the main building. 

However, this issue doesn’t have to come up at all. Hiring a vetted local window installer can ensure that a bay window gets installed correctly. 

Costly Installation

You will incur additional costs if you add a bay window as an upgrade in new construction or replace a flat window. Installing a new bay window costs an average of $2,110, according to HomeAdvisor. However, this cost can be worth it, as bay windows can increase resale value for your home.

Are Bay Windows Worth It?

The bottom line is that bay windows are popular because they add curb appeal to a home’s exterior and extra square footage in the interior. Sometimes adding a bay window provides just enough space to make a tiny room more livable. 

Also, if some extra square footage and natural light are what you’re after, then a bay window could be worth the investment. However, you’ll have to weigh how much you plan to use the extra space and then calculate if a bay window is worth the cost. 

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