They say necessity is the mother of invention, right? Such was the case for our DIY Van Window Screens. We spent about 15 minutes with the windows down one evening at a farm in central Florida and realized the mosquitos had waged an all-out war on us. Which left us having to roll the windows up. Let’s just say between the heat and humidity and lack of air flow it was a VERY long night. We started brainstorming and came up with the solution to create temporary screens for both the drivers side and passenger side windows. On our van, there is enough metal on both the inside and outside, to hold the fiberglass screen in place with magnets. It’s a solution that we can put up and take down every day easily and quickly. If you are looking for a way to keep cool in your van, give this one a shot. Here’s how you can make some camper van DIY window screens of your own!
We chose the Saint-Gobain ADFORS FCS10149-M Small Insect Screen, 36″ x 84″, Charcoal for our DIY camper van window screens. It’s more expensive than regular window screens but we chose it for two reasons. One, the holes in the screen are much smaller and are specifically designed to keep even the smaller bugs, like no-see-ums, out. Plus, it’s durable. We need it to stand up to the test of time. So far, after many, many uses and a couple of seasons, they’re hanging tough. There are more heavy duty fiberglass screens out there but we didn’t think we needed the really thick kind. The bugs are out and the air flow is good! (This screen is also an Amazon Choice product).
Next you’ll need some magnets. We don’t recommend getting the really strong earth magnets because they’ll be hard to get off the vehicle. They might also take some of your paint off. The kind we picked are easy to take off the van when we’re done with them. You can find them here.
Scotch Precision Scissors – scissors to cut the screen
Steps to making your own van window screens
Measure the size of your windows. Make sure there is enough fabric to at least cover the outside. Two to four inches of extra fabric on all sides seems ideal but as you can from our photo, we have barely enough on some sides.
Then, order or buy your screen.
Next, unroll the screen so that it covers the window. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the screen didn’t want to roll back up on itself. Be sure to give yourself, again, at least enough so that it covers all four sides of your window. If you want to mark it to be sure where to cut, now is the time. Caroline just eyeballed it and then trimmed it up later.
Cut the screen.
Hold it in place and put the magnets in place (2 at the top and 3 on each side).
Feel free to trim up the bottom to make it a little neater.
Putting the magnets on the inside of the window makes it look a little neater from the outside. The only trick there is making sure the magnets don’t get slammed in the door. We’ve actually found that when there’s a strong breeze blowing into your window, it’s a little stronger affixing the magnets to the outside of the window and not the inside.
Obviously screens aren’t going to keep out rain. They offer a little bit of protection but if it starts pouring down in the middle of the night you’ll most likely need to get up and roll them up. The good thing is that the screens don’t have to be taken down in order for the window to go up.
Also, safety is another thing to consider when using these screens. Be sure you’re in a place where it’s okay to leave your windows down. Though someone could easily break the glass and get into your vehicle, a window is a much better barrier and defense against crime than screens. Camp and park wisely and you should be good to go.
This screen is an Amazon Choice product and is specially designed to keep small bugs like no-see-ums out. (The holes in the picture above are not true to scale).
DIY Camper Van Window Screens Recap
Hope you liked our DIY Camper Van Life Screen Hack. It’s so far been a great way for us to keep cool. Have you made any of your own? If so, what things did you do similarly or differently? Interested in learning more about our van? Click here! We’d love to hear from you, please leave your comments below!
Like this and want to see some more DIY Camper Van Hacks? Head on over to our VAN LIFE page.
Be sure to check out our post on our DIY Camper Van Bed. We saved about $120 making this bed for our Ram Promaster City.
Also visit our DIY Camper Van Storage Pockets. They’re designed to hang off the side doors and give you even more room.
** Did you know we create Squarespace websites? We build not only new sites but also make updates to existing sites. It’s one of the way’s we’re able to travel. If you’re looking for someone to take the computer work off your hand, please get in touch today! Click here to see some of our most recent work!
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are travel writers, photographers and the authors of Authentic Asheville.
11 thoughts on “DIY Van Window Screens”
Great tip! I was wondering what you do to keep the light out if you’re in a busier location or bad campsite at night. I bet this method could work with more opaque fabric?
Thank you! We actually use a sun-shade for the front and then drape our lightweight towels over the passenger and driver’s side windows. We crack them enough to get the towel to stay in there and then we shut ’em. Not the best looking solution but it works. More importantly, how was your recent road trip adventure?!
I learned so much about car camping and we’re already talking about planning our next one! You’re packing list was super helpful, too.
Ah I’m so glad it was helpful! and that you’re psyched to get back out on the road again! Where to next?
We’re thinking about heading south down the coast to Trinidad, CA.
Ohhh that sounds awesome. Can’t wait to see your photos and read about it!
Thank you. I’ve been loving the peeks into your Florida trip.
Thank you for posting this really useful info!
You’re welcome! Glad it’s useful to you! Are you traveling soon?
We just got back from a 3 week trip in Pro. City. Making those windows go up with a towel was hard. It’s sensitive and goes back down!! Lol. I got the small front window covers that fold into a circle but need magnets to hold it in. May not be stealth. Love reading your stories and van life!!
Sweet! A three week trip sounds like a blast! I hear ya with the windows going up and down. It’s a little tricky to get it to stop where you want it to. What would we do without magnets?! Thinking about maybe switching to velcro after seeing someone else’s Jeep this past weekend. I’ll let ya know how that goes if we convert! And thanks so much for the compliment – means a lot!!! Happy travels to ya! Where to next?!