Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let's Have a Teaching Moment

I've worked in the construction industry for nearly five years now and frequently run across commonly misused terms. Allow me to correct one here, because its top of mind and its cold and raining edit: snowing! so I can't work on any of my painting projects right now. Come on spring! Anywho, today we will discuss (well, I'll talk at you) bay windows.

The following pictures are examples of bay windows:





Using the above examples, allow me to point out standard bay window characteristics.

A bay window has three sides to it and is typically comprised of three windows mulled together, constructed at a 30* or 45* angle. Occasionally, the center member will use two windows, but typically one large, fixed window is used. The windows on the side are most often operable.

A bay window will be sent from the factory and installed as one unit, though it is possible to build one on the job site.

A bay window will have it's own roof or can be tied into an above overhang/soffit. It will also have a stabilizing support such as a knee wall or cable system that ties into the header. It will have a seatboard on the interior--this is undoubtedly the easiest way to determine if it is truly a bay window. If there is not a seatboard, and any window of the configuration can stand alone as a single window - is not connected to others - it is not a bay window.

Take the below picture as an example. The shape of the area is a function of the construction of the building. The windows are not connected to one another. This is not a bay window. You can call it a bay area if you want, a breakfast nook, a reading nook, whatever, but its not a bay window. It is gorgeous though, isn't it? I love the detailed trim.

A bow window has most of the characteristics of a bay window, but is made up of four or more windows and is curved like a hunting bow (appropriately named, huh?) rather than angular like a bay.

That's all for today, class. Time for recess. Or happy hour. You're of age now, right?


  1. We're not pushing any particular brand here are we :)

    You are like a combo of Bob Vila and Heidi?/Holly?/Heather? (circa old Home Improvement sitcom).

    Bay windows make me nervous... like if you lean-a lean-a lean-a little too much in you are totally falling.

  2. Hey, check my sources. I'm not playing brand loyalty!

    Honestly, bays and bows are huge PIAs. I personally wouldn't ever choose one for my home because they come with more issues than the benefits they offer. Now a bay AREA, breakfast nook, whatever, I would do. :)