A campervan is like a second home. It is also a permanent moving residence for some people. And because of this, you need to make it as comfortable as possible.
One of the best things to do in your van conversion is window installation. Campervan windows have many uses. They improve ventilation by letting in the fresh air. It is also a requirement in the UK by the DVLA when turning your van into a motor caravan/home. Read more about the DVLA requirements for van conversion.
With this do-it-yourself (DIY) guide, you can install a window in your campervan on your own.
As with all things van conversion, you will need specific materials and tools, so let's get on with this.
Window types you can install with this DIY guide;
Tinted and clear
Normal and sliding
Normal window with 80% tint
Tools and Materials you need for Campervan Window Installation
When you buy your window kit, remember to get the following tools and materials.
Metal drill bits
Jigsaw and metal blade
Campervan Window Installation Procedure
Now that you have the windows and tools ready, let’s start the window installation process.
Step #1: Drill
First things first, measure the window and indent from the edges.
Get the window template and place it in the location where you will insert the window. Mark around it to get the cut line.
Drill the pilot holes in the van. Do it by drilling the holes from the inside of the van around the edges of the cut line. When drilling it, do it from the inside of the campervan and put a tarp on the ground.
Use metal drill bits for making holes. You can use cobalt drill bits to drill through the steel metal of your campervan. They are resistant to abrasions and drill efficiently, dissipation heat quickly.
Tip: The metal shavings rust. So, make sure that you remove all the metal shavings to prevent rust from cropping up in your campervan.
Step #2: Cut a hole
The most common tool to use is a jigsaw. It cuts corners pretty nicely.
Place a metal cutting blade in your jigsaw and set it correctly for efficient work. Start by drilling a big enough hole to insert the blade in and continue cutting around the cut lines.
To cut a nice window hole, hold the jigsaw firmly (it tends to wander!). Cut your way around the pilot holes until you cut out the complete shape of the campervan window.
Tip: When cutting, take intervals to add a few drops of tapping and cutting fluid to the cut. This reduces the heat at the blade.
After removing the cut-out, file the edges down to reduce the burs and remove the loose metal shavings.
Apply metal paint to the smooth edges and leave it to dry.
Step #3: Prep the van for bonding the window
You will prep the van for bonding in 3 easy steps;
Clean it with rubbing alcohol
Apply glass activator
Use rubbing alcohol to clean the area. Rubbing alcohol is an antiseptic, a surface disinfectant, and a stain remover. These qualities make it a good cleaning agent. Spray it directly on the metal surface where you will fix the window and on the window and let it dry off.
Apply a glass activator with a microfiber cloth. The glass activator enhances the bonding surfaces of the glass (glass and metal), activating the adhesive on contact. It is the one responsible for keeping the campervan window properly bonded to the metal around it.
Next, apply the primer to the van where the window will be placed (to the edge of the metal). The glass primer chemically alters the glass surface, increasing its surface energy and making it more receptive to adhesive bonding.
Do it in a continuous sweep instead of painting it on to apply it well. Take note of making it a thick strip that is not larger than the window itself.
Allow about 15 minutes to dry.
Tip: If I were to do this again, I would have applied masking tape. The black is just like paint.
Apply glue on the van. Do this generously! Glue can be quite thick, so warm it up in warm water for easy application. Apply it continuously around the metal edges without leaving any gaps.
Step #4: Install the window!
Place in the window. It is a lot easier if there are two of you to handle both ends of the window when placing it on the glue.
When the window is in place, push it firmly on the glue to seal well all around.
Tape it to the van so it doesn’t slide.
Step #5: The last step is to apply sealant!
Window instructions don't mention using this, but it's really important. Always apply sealant.
Any sealant will do. Sealants effectively seal up or fill up any gaps between surfaces and close off any spaces that may occur.
In my case, I used Everbuild general purpose sealant. It adheres to smooth surfaces and non-porous materials. It has an anti-fungal component that makes it mould-resistant in humid areas. It forms a permanent flexible rubber seal.
To apply it, mask around the area while applying a thin bead
Finally, wet your finger and trace the bead
Campervan window installation just gets easier. To become a pro at it, take this van conversion course. You will become a DIY guru at all things campervan installation.