How To Install RV Windows in a Camper Van

Camper van window installation is a surprisingly tricky process. That’s because, unlike when installing a vent fan, the entire process is done on a vertical surface instead of a horizontal surface.

But as every part of a van conversion process, take it slow, think ahead, measure twice, and cut once. Being slow and methodical when installing an RV window will significantly increase the quality of your installation and reduce mistakes.

This post details our step-by-step process for installing a window in a camper van.

Step 1: Outline Your Cut With a Template

Holding up the cardboard template for our windows
Cats were essential to cutting this window template

Tracing your cut line with a marker before you start sawing through your van’s sheet metal is a good idea. However, since windows are bulky and heavy, creating a template for the window area out of cardboard is helpful.

To do this, set the window on top of the cardboard and trace around the window flange with a marker. Then, cut out the template with scissors.

Step 2: Place Template On Inside Van Wall And Trace Cut Line

A cardboard template of an RV window being taped up inside a camper van
Sticking up the window template inside our van

Once you have your cardboard template, tape the template on the van’s wall where you want to install your window.

Setting your template up on your van’s inside or outside wall may make sense, depending on the window’s size. In our case, because our window was small, we set up our template inside.

Once your template is taped up, trace around the template with a marker. This will be your cut line.

When finished, it should look something like the below photo.

Window template tracing on van interior wall
After tracing the cardboard template on our van’s wall

Step 3: Drill Holes Along The Cut Line

Once you’ve traced your cut line with a marker, take your electric drill with a 1/2″ drill bit and drill several holes along your cut line. You want to do this because you will use a marker to connect the drill holes outside your van.

For reference, check out the holes we drilled along our cut line in the picture in step 5.

Step 4: Trace Cut Line Outside The Van

Window installation

If you created your original cut line inside your van, like us, you’ll need to transfer that cut line to the outside of the van.

It would help if you had drilled several holes along your cut line (from step #3). Connect these holes with a marker to re-create your cut line outside the van. You should have replicated your cut line when you’re finished and are finally ready to start sawing!

Step 5: Cut Out Any Interior Supporting Beams

Friend cutting off the vertical support beams with an angle grinder
Soliciting a friend to cut our vertical support beams

You will eventually use a jigsaw to cut away the sheet metal, but a jigsaw will have difficulty cutting through any vertical support beams on the van’s panel.

In the above picture, you can see how our cut line intersects three-panel support beams. So before using a jigsaw, take a Dremel or an angle grinder and cut away these support beams.

Step 6: Cut Along The Marker Line With A Jigsaw

Eric using a jig saw to cut a hole in our van's wall to install the window
Slowly, slowly cutting along our black cut line

At this point, take out your jigsaw and begin cutting along the marker line. Remember to use jigsaw blades that are designed to cut through sheet metal.

Tip: Press the jigsaw firmly against the van’s frame, keep the blade saw moving at maximum speed, and move the jigsaw slowly along your cut lines.

Go slow; you can do it!

Step 7: File & Treat The Edges

Man filing the metal edge of the window hole in a camper van
Soliciting another friend to file the rough metal edges of our window hole

Before installing your RV windows, prepare the cut site by smoothing out the edges with a metal file (or an angle grinder, in this case) and paint the edges with Rust-o-Leum anti-rust paint.

Step 8: Screw The Window In Your Van

Eric installing an RV window in a camper van
Installing the window into the van with screws

With the cut site adequately prepared, you can begin installing the window in your camper van.

Every window brand comes with slightly different installation instructions. So, it’s essential to read the instructions carefully before starting.

Our windows came with waterproof seal tape, which we applied to the outside part of the window’s flange. We then hoisted the window into the hole.

With the window firmly in place, we took a drill and screwed the window to the van’s sheet metal frame with the supplied screws.

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Step 9: Admire Your Camper Van Window Installation Work

We had two small sliding windows installed on our van’s rear left and right sides when all was finished. Not as easy of an installation process as the ventilation fan, but with the windows behind us, we were ready to begin converting the van’s interior.

Camper Van Window Installation Video

Van Conversion Window Install

Are Camper Van Windows Important?

When we first purchased our new Ford Transit, we knew immediately that we would install windows in our van. The benefits outweighed any downsides.

Camper van window surrounded by plywood walls
Newly installed window surrounded by plywood walls

Brings Fresh Air Into Your Van

Though just a window alone is nice to bring in fresh air, pairing a window with a vent fan helps to have strong air circulation throughout your van. Pulling fresh air into your vehicle instantly increases your van’s livability, especially during hot, muggy, and rainy days.

Read: How To Install A Vent Fan In A DIY Van

Allows Natural Sun Light To Enter

Even though our camper van windows are small, they still let in lots of sunlight to brighten up our tiny interior space. Compared to lights, natural sunlight is better at brightening up your space and better for your mental health. Who wants to live in a dark coffin of a van?!

View The Beautiful Outside World!

Your camper van can take you to lots of beautiful places and environments in this world. Windows helps you to view these stunning locations from inside your van.

Side benefit: installing RV windows also helps you peak outside at night to ensure everything is safe.

Reduces Claustrophobia

Installing camper van windows dramatically changes the interior feel of your vehicle. By letting in outside light and being able to peer outside, your van’s interior instantly feels more extensive and more spacious. This reduces claustrophobia and tension.

But What About Stealth?

Like installing our vent fan, we know that installing camper van windows significantly reduces our vehicle’s stealth factor. In fact, RV windows probably reduce a vehicle’s ‘stealthiness’ more than a fan.

But, while we do like to travel under the radar and not draw serious attention to ourselves, we firmly believe that forgoing any window installation to become a 100% stealth campervan is a terrible idea.

Conclusion: Installing Camper Van Windows Can Be Tricky

But if you do your search and go slow, we’re confident you can successfully install your camper window. Just remember always to measure twice and cut once!

If you have any questions about installing an RV window in your DIY van, please let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you soon!

For more resources, check out our DIY Camper Van Guide

Happy building!

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