10 Step Guide to Installing Windows in Your Van!
“measure three times, cut once” – our motto
- 2 RV Horizontal Sliding Tinted Windows 42” x 12” x 3/4” with Half Screen
- Power Drill with Metal Hole Bit
- Frog Tape
- Butyl Tape
- .25” Plywood
- Tape Measure
- Utility Knife
- Caulk Gun
Step 1: Planning
Our requirements for windows were: must have an opening and have screens for ventilation, tinted glass to reduce heat gain, glare and aid in privacy. After copious amounts of research, we decided to buy Vintage Technologies RV Horizontal Sliding Tinted Windows (42” x 12” x 3/4”) from Amazon.
Step 2: Cardboard Template
The window will include specific instructions for making a cardboard template – follow these instructions. Once you’ve made the template, place the template where you want the window to go. We used frog tape to tape it in place. This allowed us to be able to step back and view the van from afar and take measurements to ensure they were both placed in the same spot on either side.
While placing your template, keep two things in mind:
– 1. Where your vent fan will be and how much ventilation is wanted/needed throughout the van. We knew we weren’t going to installed an AC Unit and therefore wanted as much ventilation throughout the whole van as possible. This is why we placed the windows towards the very back of the van and the fan towards the front of the van. When the fan is pulling out it creates a nice breeze over the bed and through the van really helping keep us cool during the warmer months.
-2. Be aware of the interior ribs, these will need to be cut out. The smaller ribs are not critical to the integrity of the van like the larger middle ribs. Stay away from the large ribs.
Step 3: Outline Template
After you have found the perfect spot for your new window, trace around the template with a sharpie. Next, remove the cardboard and use the frog tape to tape around the sharpie line. Be sure to have about an 1” – 1.5” of tape around your outline. This will help prevent scratching your van’s paneling while you’re cutting.
*Pro Tip: Tape the bottom of your jigsaw to prevent unnecessary scratches as well.
Step 4: Remove Interior Ribs
Once you know exactly where your window will be, mark the interior ribs that will need to be removed. To remove the interior ribs we used a small handsaw. The rib will be able to be removed after sawing through the top and bottom of the rib. After this, use a 5in1 to clean up the area of any remaining glue.
Step 5: Pilot Holes
Using a power drill with a metal drill bit, drill pilot holes along the inside of your outline. They will need to be big enough to fit your jigsaw blade into.
Step 6: Cutting Window Hole
After your pilot holes, you are ready to cut a giant hole in the side of your van!!!! Our motto is and always will be “measure three times, cut once.” This part is a little nerve wracking but always remember you’d rather make the hole too small than too big. Protective eyewear is also recommended, metal shards flying in your face isn’t fun!
Step 7: Rust Proof Prep
Use rubbing alcohol to clean off any remaining grease, dirt, and/or metal shards from your hole. After your work area is clean, we applied a clear coat of Rust-Oleum rust proof paint onto the new cut you’ve made in the van. This will help protect the integrity of the metal over the years.
Step 8: Dry fit the Window
At this point you will need to build a spacer for the window to fit properly. This is necessary because the interior is not thick enough for the clamp ring to tighten properly. Using the cardboard template from before, outline the window onto quarter inch (.25”) plywood and cut out using a jigsaw. Apply Liquid Nail Adhesive to the spacer and clamp onto the van. Let this dry for two hours before continuing work.
Step 9: Clean and Prepare for Window – Once again, wipe down the metal with rubbing alcohol. It is crucial the metal is free of grease and dirt to ensure a lasting bond for the butyl tape. Apply butyl tape around the metal frame of the window.
Step 10: Place the window in and screw into the spacer. Be sure to tighten screws in a zig zag opposite direction. This will provide over all even tightening to the entire window.
Step 11: Celebrate!
go grab a beer and enjoy the view!