Top Bay Window Design Options

Photo credit: net_efekt
Photo credit: net_efekt

A bay window has the potential to be a bold and beautiful addition to your home. It is also extremely functional and can actually increase the value of your home. Oftentimes, when installed correctly, homeowners can recover two or three times the investment amount. Simply put, if you have a bay window installed for around $2,500 the value of your home could increase by as much as $7,500. That’s not a bad investment, not to mention you’ll get to enjoy the beauty and comfort of your bay window right away. The critical thing to remember is that a bay window has to be designed with the exterior of your home in mind. Oftentimes, homeowners are attracted to and focused on the interior look and feel of the bay window. They tend to pay little attention to the exterior impact. You can’t just buy a bay window and have it bolted on and expect it to look good inside and out. An experienced window consultant will be needed to help you make the right choices. Here are several design options that need to be considered:

  • Height and width of the bay are of incredible importance. Just because there is room for a large bay doesn’t mean you should install one. A window installation professional with an eye for design can tell you how big is too big. The risk is overtaking an exterior wall, which can make the bay stand out like a sore thumb. The goal should be to install a new bay window that looks as if it were a part of the original design of the home. You want to feel as if it was always there.
  • The depth of the bay – which is determined by the degree and angle of the flank windows – is also critical. This is sometimes called the “seat board dept.” This refers to the amount of usable space in the interior used for seating on a functional bay. A bay window that is mainly for show is usually fairly shallow because seating is not the main function.
  • Bump-out or walk-in bays vs. factory-made and installed single-unit bays are a big consideration also. Bump-outs take the entire wall out into a bay shape and don’t have a seat board at all. The bump-out ranges from the floor to the ceiling and is considerably more of a construction job rather than just a simple bay window installation. Factory made prefabricated bay windows usually go in the place of a current smaller window. At the same time, the exterior is manipulated by way of a small roof on top of the bay with bracing underneath to simulate an original look. This is a lot to consider. There needs to be considerable attention to detail while matching everything up so it isn’t so obvious that it’s been added on.
  • Height of the interior cripple wall is extremely important and often overlooked (in simple terms, this is the wall from the surface of the seat board to the floor). This is especially important on a functional bay that is going to be used for seating. We’ve seen them too high where people have to practically climb up into the bay just to sit down. Conversely, some are too low where you end up falling into the bay as you sit. Getting up is also a pain when it’s too low. Either extreme will lead to dissatisfaction over time so make sure to get it right because there is virtually no turning back.

These are the big issues and concerns you’ll want to take into consideration. Get these right the first time and you’ll end up with what I consider to be a great upgrade. Find an experienced window pro to help; you won’t regret it.


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