RV window replacement is one of the easiest do-it-yourself projects. All you do is remove a few screws, pop the old window out, apply sealant, and pop the new window in. Of course there are a few additional steps, which we'll get to in a moment, but that's the basic procedure.
You have lots of choices when replacing windows on your travel trailer, motorhome, or fifth wheel. You can go with a different window type if you like. Replacement options include fixed pane, sliding pane, awning, frameless, and egress. If you want better insulation from the heat and the cold, you can upgrade from single pane to double pane windows. There are also various shades and colors of tinting that can be applied to the window.
To learn more about all the choices you have when selecting replacement RV windows, and to find out who makes them, see my Guide to RV Windows.
Accurately measuring the dimensions of your old window, or your window opening, is crucial when ordering replacements. Most camper windows are custom made, and returns are not accepted.
The majority of RV windows are clamp ring mounted. That means the RV sidewall is sandwiched between an exterior window frame and an interior trim ring. The window is not screwed directly into the camper wall. Pressure holds the window in place. Mounting screws are on the inside of the window, leaving a smooth appearance on the outside.
Replacement RV windows usually come packaged with interior trim rings, screws, and putty tape, so no additional hardware is needed.
One person can replace a window, though it will be bit easier with two people, especially if it's a large window. It will take roughly 1-2 hours for each window replacement. If you're replacing all the windows on your camper, you'll probably shave off some of that time after doing a couple.
First remove the old window and sealant.
From inside the RV, start by removing the drapes and blinds. Next remove the window knob. Now you'll remove the screws from the interior window trim ring. There will be 12 or more screws here. Before removing the last few screws, you'll need a helper to hold up the window on the outside to prevent it from falling to the ground. If no helper is available, tape can be use to hold up the window. Blue painter's tape works well as it's easy to remove later.
More than likely, the window will still be held in place by caulking and putty tape. Now you'll move outside the RV, and with a putty knife under the exterior window flange, carefully pry the window out from the sidewall. It helps to have another person hold onto the window while you pry it out.
Once the window is out, remove all the old caulking and putty tape from the wall around the window opening. A clean surface will provide a better hold for the new putty tape and caulking, and make a better seal.
Now it's time to pop in that shiny new RV window and seal the deal.
Dry fit the new RV window first, to be sure it fits correctly. Do this by placing the window in the opening, without any putty tape. With a ruler or tape measure, measure the overlap of the exterior window frame over the RV sidewall. There should be at least 3/8" overlap. This overlap provides a good seal between the window and sidewall. If there is less overlap on top, you'll need to use shims to raise the window up from the bottom. The window should be centered in the window opening, both vertically and horizontally.
Once you're satisfied with the fit, remove the window and place it face down on a soft surface. Apply the supplied putty tape to the RV sidewall around the perimeter of the window opening. Too much putty tape is better than too little. You don't want any gaps for water to sneak in between the exterior window flange and the RV sidewall. Any excess will be squeezed out when the interior trim ring is screwed in place.
Using the spray bottle, wet the inside surface of the exterior window flange. This will prevent the window from sticking to the putty tape, giving you some time to center the window first. Now install the window, centering it in the window opening.
Once back inside, install the interior trim ring using the supplied screws. Have your helper hold up the window on the outside, or use tape to hold it up. Start with the 4 corners, then work your way around the perimeter slowly tightening each screw. Once the screws are tightened, go outside and check that there are no gaps in the putty tape. Apply more putty tape if necessary. Trim off any excess putty tape.
For extra insurance against water damage, apply a bead of clear silicone sealant around the window frame. Smooth out the sealant with a flat head screwdriver or finger wetted with your spray bottle.
Once you've sealed the window and the caulking has dried, your camper is ready for the road. Easy huh? Now go out and frame some awesome scenery through your new camper windows.