Camper van window fitting - low cost DIY method
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Cutting a hole in the side of our van seems like a daunting thing to do at first. Looking back at the end of our conversion, we have cut so many other holes in the van along the way and it's really not as scary as it seems!
Our Fiat Ducato originally had no windows to the cargo area, in order to bring it up to DVLA motorhome standards (that require a window to the living area) we decided to fit a new window ourselves to keep the van window fitting cost down.
The DIY van window fitting cost (per window) is around £70 for most vans, expect to pay about £90 for windows that open. If you don’t fancy fitting the window yourself there are several places that will do it for you at an extra cost.
Firstly, we only installed one window. This was mainly due to cost and time constraints, but also meant that we would have more wall space inside the van for our kitchen and shower room. We might still add some rear van windows one day, but we also like how having minimal windows keeps our van looking stealthy.
Top tip - for a stealthy van make sure to install official 'van windows instead of smaller campervan windows which can give the game away
We opted for a single glazed fixed window for the sliding door from Van Demon. The window was sized to fit exactly between two grooves in the sliding door and seemed like the most ‘non camper’ windows out there. The 70% dark tint also prevents people seeing inside from further than around 3 metres.
The Van Demon website allows you to pick the make and model of your van and then gives you some window options so you know you are picking the right one for your van!
The window and fixing kit came with the window itself, a 310ml tube of glazing adhesive, primer and applicator, a black PVC edging strip and a glass wipe. Some instructions are printed within the box but we have added our own advice below.
Cutting a hole for your window
As we bought a specific Fiat Ducato van window, the hole we needed to cut was already marked out in the sliding door. If you have another type of window you will need to start by measuring out the hole that needs cutting and drawing it onto the van.
Before cutting make sure you are wearing appropriate PPE. (Don’t rely on aviators like me…)
Start by drilling some initial holes at the corners of the window frame. We used am 8mm drill bit which was just the right size for a jigsaw blade to fit inside. We then drilled some guide holes with a 2mm drill bit that followed the cut line more accurately. On the outside of the van we used blue painters tape to mark out the line we needed to cut. We used Bosch metal jigsaw blades that worked a treat.
Taking out the metal panel
After cutting any panel out make sure you vacuum up any loose bits of metal, these will be prone to rust and can cause problems later on if not removed. With the panel removed, the next step is to paint any exposed metal with a rust proof paint, we used the Hammerite paint used earlier.
Add the PVC edging strip
After leaving the rust proof paint to dry the next step is to add the PVC edging strip to the freshly painted edge of the opening. The black PVC ‘snake’ like edging strip can be placed over the edge and hammered lightly into place. We didn’t do the most accurate cut, but the PVC strip allowed us to hide any minor cutting errors!
Prepare the window glass
Next it's time to get the window prepared (it helps to have two people!). We removed all packaging and laid it outer face down on top of the cardboard that the window came in. We then used the Winbond wipe over the back-painted areas of the window.
After wiping the window we then applied the primer to the back-painted area of the window using the applicator, which is a fluffy ball on a stick! The primer is black so make sure you don’t use it over any clear glass areas, this is easy enough to do as the window has a large black border. Now leave to dry, it should take max 10 minutes.
Sticking the window in place Use the black window sealant cartridge to apply a uniform single bead around the edge of the metal. Be sure to add the sealant as close to the centre between the van edges/ridges and the opening, this will give you enough space for any squeeze out. Don’t worry the sealant can be wiped off with a bit of elbow grease and white spirit if it goes on to the wrong area.
We found this stuff very stiff to squeeze out… It’s harder than it looks!
Once the bead was finished we used the rest of the canister to touch up any areas without that much sealant and added some more to ensure as strong fix.
Put the window in place
Get some tape close to hand ready to tape the window the the van wall, just in case it wants to fall out! We lifted the window slowly making sure that it was in position before pushing in towards the sealant. We only had a few moments of adjustment before the sealant grabbed hold. If you are on your own doing this, we have seen some people use suction grips which make it much easier. The bottle of sealant says you can drive away in an hour!
As an extra step we used Sikaflex EBT to go around the edges of the window to further prevent any leaks. As you can see our window sealant was pretty messy so we thought it would be wise to seal it again.
The next step was to start the wiring around the van before finishing the walls. All materials used and/or mentioned within this post can be found within our Van Conversion Cost Breakdown. All of the tools used can be found in our Tools Used in our Van Conversion post. Both of these posts will be updated during our build. If you cant find something let us know, we are happy to help!