Putting windows into my van was not really a question. The question was where I was going to put them. Naturally, this decision took me about a week.
The glass fitting process isn’t nearly as scary as you think it might be, nor is is confusing provided you prepare. But we hit a few unavoidable bumps that could have saved me a fair bit of time and money. As well as an overly detailed run through, I can also promise tears in this blog.
Once I’d sat in my van a few times with a cup of tea, and visualised where things were going, I decided on two rear (barn) door windows and a large window on a side. There was debate as to which side the large window would go but I decided on the sliding door. The door provided no option to attach any sort of cupboard, so if I couldn’t use that space for storage then I would use that space for glass. I also debated buying 4 windows but quickly realised that I couldn’t afford it. I was also reminded that more glass = less insulation. I prefer warmth.
I ordered my windows from a site that allowed you to put the exact model of your van (popular brands) into the search bar and look at products made for your vehicle. This was ideal. They also offer bundles that include fitting kits. Again ideal. Saved me researching the cheapest kit. I bought one fitting kit suitable for the rear doors and added extra trim. (See product list below)
Hindsight Observation Number 1: I should have bought a fitting kit for both because I ended up having to buy an extra bottle of glue. Which is not widely available in single tubes, and resulted in me buying the wrong type and spending double the price of the fitting kit. Solid effort on my behalf there.
The glass arrived quickly and we found an indoor workshop-style space that I could use at the weekends to avoid rain. I spent an evening watching installation videos and getting familiar with the fitting kit. We packed the van up Saturday morning with every tool I might ever need, and headed over to the workshop.
The first window we did was a rear window. I watched a thousand videos of people creating a line of holes using a drill from the inside. This method allowed you to use a jigsaw. But Dad had a new metal angle grinder. Cue tears. The pressures of lockdown, plus watching the angle grinder cut up the paint work on my van, pushed me over the edge 5 minutes into cutting. We stopped. I cried.
Jigsaw time. I insisted we use the screwdriver technique to save my sanity. So I followed the frame line on the inside to drill holes, which I then joined up on the outside using a sharpie. We stuck the jigsaw in which made light work of it. I now had a hole in my door. No fear.
The trim I was using was 2-4mm wide and we had to pinch a few spots where the metal lips went slightly wider. There were also two strips of metal from a support we needed to remove. This was a simple case of drilling through the weld points, but it took me about 30 minutes to research this. Once this was off and the metal lips were pinched, I treated the paint with Hammerite.
The next step was getting the trim on. I warmed up the trim by using a bucket and hairdryer to make it more pliable, otherwise it insisted on curving the wrong way. Once it was warmed up, we started from the bottom (rain and gravity reasons) and used a rubber mallet to tap it on. It was easy for the most part, apart from where the metal lips were slightly wider, so we pinched the trim once it was on. You have to tap it on cm by cm to make sure its not stretching and pulling off when you get to each corner. Once you meet back at the bottom, simply cut it off. Easy..!
Hindsight Observation Number 2: Apparently if you heat the trim up too much, it loses shape and doesn’t hold the metal as well. Who knew..?!
The final stage was getting the glass on. The fitting kit came with prep for the window and metal so that went on really quick. I warmed the glue tube up, checked a hundred times that I’d laid out the right piece of glass, and practiced lifting it up. Yep. We did. The glue on the metal had to be a consistent 9mm bead in a triangle shape (nozzle creates this), and you have 15 mins until it sets. So glue, glass, go.
And on it went. Prior to this experience, I never knew that glue actually worked. This stuff held a piece of glass as soon as we pushed it on. We struggled to wiggle it into perfect place and then we barely needed any duck tape. It was on, and I was pretty chuffed. We had a beer, packed up, hoovered out the tiny metal shavings, and left the van over night. When we came back, the next morning, that window was still in place.
We cracked another beer.
The second window went just as well. We had to remove a small work light, and I had a minor mishap ordering glue, but I felt like a professional now.
A week later we smashed through the first steps for the third window. I drilled holes while Dad prepped the saw. Dad sawed while I prepped the rust paint. Dad warmed the trim while I painted. We were on a roll. Until we realised the metal lips were at least 3mm wider in places. This seems like a tiny amount but the battle we had with the trim was not worth it. There was a tiny ridge just inside the inner metal lining that the trim just didn’t sit right. Every time we tapped it on, it moved.
But I’d run out of tears for the windows. So we came to a conclusion. We stopped, covered it up, and I ordered wider trim. I drove for a week with a hole in my van. So if you have that ‘hole’ fear, don’t stress. It snowed all week and everything was fine. The trim came and we completed the job a bit later. It felt like a major win.
The fact that two out of three windows are leaking is my next small issue. I attempted to add my own seal on a dry day, but sealant goes everywhere and it turns out I don’t have a steady hand. However, it’s fixable. And it doesn’t affect the window. But what a pain in the… glass.
Hindsight Observation Number 3: I should have waited to put the glass on in warmer conditions. I should have covered it from the rain later that evening. I should have made sure that bead of glue on the final window was smooth. And I should have used painting tape to make sure that bloody extra seal didn’t make a huge ass mess!
So, aside from this last small setback, and a few ‘I wish I’d known that’ moments, I’m glad I fitted my own windows. I’ve had a fair few comments along the lines of ‘I can’t face it’ and ‘it’s too scary’, but there’s not much to it. Watch some videos and read some instructions, prepare well and take your time, fake some confidence and you’re good to go!
I have three new windows on my van and we did it by ourselves. It’s a great feeling!
Vauxhall Vivaro Glass (Van Demon)
Fitting Kits (Van Demon) incl.:
Glue: Bostik Simson 70-08 ISR Primerless
Bostik Prep M
2-4mm trim for rear windows (3m per window)
6-8mm trim for side window (4m per window)
Lint Free Cloth
Power drill and medium drill bit (roughly 4mm)
Hammerite (or similar rust paint)
Blue roll/Kitchen roll
Brush (brushing away metal shavings)
Saw (cutting trim)
Mole grips (to clamp metal together)