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Old 12-15-2011, 10:29 PM   #1
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Windows or walls?

Hey Everyone,

I placed an order for a van top with Fiberine and is supposed to be in manufacturing now. Unfortunately, they take a couple weeks off for the holidays, so I won't be driving down for the install until early next year.

With the new top, I think I'll be ready to start building out the interior, but I had a question.

Is it better/easier to install the windows first, and then install insulation and walls, or to install the walls first and add the windows?

I'm guessing the windows should go in first, but I don't really have a reason for it.



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Old 12-16-2011, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Windows or walls?

I'm guessing too, but I would say walls first.

That way you cut one hole through van side & interior wall all at once and fit a window with frame that is thick enough to span the whole built up thickness.

If windows first, it would be hard to make a nice looking frame and sill on the interior side.

I'll wait for the official word from someone who has actually done such a job.

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Old 12-16-2011, 06:12 PM   #3
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Re: Windows or walls?

I imagine you have already determined how many and where the windows will be? That said IMO the windows would go in first. We started with a commercial van as it would only have the two of us inside and purposely looked for one with the only windows we wanted...the curb side slider and the rear doors. So insulating it was easy. Though we did design soft-walls into the rig rather than wall board. We really like the feel of the soft walls and marine grade carpeting throughout. Very warm and no condensation or cold spots. Obviously if we had been hauling passengers we would most likely have begun with a passenger vehicle, though the soft walls would have been the same for either.


and after:

Showing soft-wall with bubble foil insulation behind:

Best wishes on your build.

A Post Script Ramble...
On the window have or not-to-have idea (i know, out of context but thought i'd give my 2 cents worth...) IMV? Windows are over rated! We basically drive, use the "facilities", or lounge/sleep in the bed. All cooking and "camping" is done outside. So we have no need to see outside.

My wife and i live full time in a 38ft DRV Mobile Suite. We love the lifestyle and freedom. AND we like NEVER open up the day/night shades to look out side even though most of the time the view would be fog or geese on the golf-green! IF i were to design an RV from the ground up, knowing what i know now, i would simply have a nice monitor (32" would be nice for a digital window?) with four weatherproof cameras outside that we could scroll through. Believe it or not my wife is sold on the idea too.
Greetings from the WET! Coast of Oregon, USA
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:39 PM   #4
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Re: Windows or walls?

I am hoping some of homemade folks here can help me here. I already have GMC SMB but does not have any window on the side, and would like to have big sliding windows added to it.

The insulated wall is already covering the entire side where I want the window to be installed. I am told by SMB there is no wire behind the wall. Here are questions that I am trying to answer but no one seems to know what I am looking for.

- Can I have the window installed without removing the insulation panel? I am told this may be possible. I think the installer can just cut thru the interior panel. (no furniture and such)
- How can I finish the cut area of the interior panel? I believe it's 3/8 plywood and 3inch insulation. In other words, is there moulding or something that can be fitted between the opening of the interior panel and the window frame? I guess I haven't seen what the aftermarket installed window looks like.

I appreciate all your help.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:51 AM   #5
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Re: Windows or walls?

Somebody used to make a plastic window liner to trim out conversion van windows, but I don't think they are made any more. Van Specialties has a custom design they make out of wood. Here it is in my van before the wall went in.

You can see in this picture that the wall panel covers the window liner.

In our van the wall panels are easy to remove with a few wood screws. It seems like the walls could be left in place to retrofit a window, but the window liner would need to be a little deeper and the flange would be on the inside of the wall instead of the outside of the wall.

If it is a bare van, it seems like installing the windows first would be the best option. It will be easier to get access with the cutting tools, the metal filings won't contaminate a new interior, you'll be able to see where all the structural members are, and the other interior finishes can be fit around the window.

If you want it to look professional and don't have the skills to make a window liner, it's possible that SMB, Van Specialties, or a local van shop would make the liners for you.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:21 AM   #6
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Re: Windows or walls?

I installed my windows before doing the interior walls. I thought that would be easier. There are ribs in the walls you have to account for.

I also made my own wood window frames. The commercial plastic window rings I got were designed for very think walls and were not usable without extensive modifications so I elected to start from scratch.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:15 PM   #7
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Re: Windows or walls?

We're getting windows installed now at RVI. The builder installs windows first, then does the furring around the window, then puts in insulation. After that, he seals up the wall.

For photos of the job in process, see
The Yeti: SMB 4x4 Ford EB, super camper top, RVI interior build
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:49 PM   #8
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Re: Windows or walls?

Awning windows > Sliding windows
and then
everything changed
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Old 01-19-2012, 02:21 PM   #9
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Re: Windows or walls?


Re: "Awning windows > Sliding windows"

Could you share a bit more about that?
The Yeti: SMB 4x4 Ford EB, super camper top, RVI interior build
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Old 02-02-2012, 01:55 AM   #10
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Re: Windows or walls?

I have some experience with those two type of windows...
Awing windows can be open during rain and not let any in, sliders can and do let rain in.

If I had a choice, awning windows.

2001 E350 PSD w/ a bunch of stuff.
And had three other E350s...
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