How to Frame RV Windows (it’s easier than you think!)
If you're planning to renovate your RV, one project that's sure to give it that cozy home vibe is framed-out windows. In fact, I can easily say this is one of those projects that truly transformed our RV.
It now feels less like a vehicle on wheels, and more like a tiny home on wheels.
How to Frame RV Windows
When Eric and I first started renovating our motorhome I was really excited to frame out our RV windows but unfortunately it was just one of those projects we didn't get to until after we hit the road. Not to mention we were concerned about weight and figured it may be best to do this project after we weighed the RV.
Here are a few before photos:
In fact, if you look at some of our much older photos you may even notice white paint on the black trim of the windows. Not to point fingers (ahem, Eric), but we thought that would be covered up so we didn't worry too much about it, haha. Luckily, it cleaned up super easy with rubbing alcohol or a magic eraser.
Fast forward a year later and the project is finally done, woo-hoo! And don't worry, framing out your RV windows is less daunting than you may think.
With that said, we couldn't find any information on how to technically do this in an RV, so we don't know if this is the most legit way. They've held up great so far (it's now been 5 months since we did this project which we first showed in our Christmas tour), but if you have other suggestions for how to frame RV windows we'd love to hear them in the comments below!
As with any renovation project, use your best judgement and do what you're comfortable with. If nothing else, we hope this serves as a guide or inspiration to frame your own RV windows!
VIDEO: How to frame RV windows
You can check out the video below where Eric shows how we framed out our RV windows for that rustic, cabin vibe.
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- Wood for frames
- Bass Wood/Thin Crafting Wood
- Saw – we used our circular saw
- Nail gun
- Measuring Tape
Step 1: Choose your style
Before you begin framing out your windows I recommend honing in on the style you want. Are you looking for a rustic, cabin vibe? Traditional? Farmhouse? Modern?
If you're unsure I'd look at photos of homes you love (Pinterest and Houzz can be a great resource for this!) and pay attention to the window details. I'm inspired by rustic cabins and mountain homes, and one detail I love about the framed windows I found in some of these homes is that the top and bottom piece will be longer than the sides. Not gonna lie, I also liked that this would allow more flexibility with imperfections in our measurements or wood.
Step 2: Pick Your Wood
As you may already know, it's important to be aware of the weight you add to your RV so we recommend using a lighter wood like cedar or pine if possible. If you have some amazing reclaimed wood but it's too thick you may want to consider getting it milled down. This is what we did for the cypress wood we used on our RV bedroom slide-out.
You don't want to use anything too thick, but I would also avoid going too thin or you may not get the look you want. We used 1 x 2, 1 x 3, and 1 x 4 pine boards mostly because it was more cost effective than cedar.
Step 3: Measure and Cut
Jot down your window measurements and it's always a good idea to measure twice (or in our case more like 4 times) and cut once. You may want to use all the same widths for your windows, or you may need to make adjustments depending on the layout and furniture in your RV.
For example, there are a few windows in our RV where we had to make the bottom wood piece a 1 x 2 vs. 1 x 3 due to lack of space with built-in furniture (like our media cabinet), or where we chose to make the top piece a 1 x 4 vs. 1 x 3 because the window was really large (in our hallway), or because the window was really close to the ceiling and we thought it would look better touching the ceiling vs. leaving a gap.
Step 4: Stain or Paint
You may prefer a painted frame, but we opted for a rustic stain. I actually used several layers of stain followed by a dry brushed taupe paint, and then another layer of stain in an attempt to create a more rustic, imperfect color. Also, I recommend staining/painting the back of your wood because part of it may show through from outside. We learned this the hard way.
Step 5: Attach Wood
Once your bottom piece is cut and ready to go you'll want to attach it to the wall, making sure it's level. This step will be much easier if you have someone to help you.
We originally considered a couple options such as screws or pop rivets to attach our wood, but ultimately decided to use our nail gun. That's because it's easy to use, fast, and still removable without creating much damage.
I don't know how the window frames look in your RV but ours stick out 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch from the wall so we decided to add a small piece of craft (bass) wood to the corners of the frame. I picked this stuff up from a local craft store and it was super easy to cut down with scissors.
This step may not be necessary, but we thought it could help the nail secure the wood into the wall, otherwise there would have been a slight gap between the wood and the wall. You can see Eric do this in the video at the top of the post.
On the first couple windows Eric had the bass wood sticking out just slightly from the edges like you can see below, and then used his pocket knife to cut off the excess. As we framed more windows we made sure the bass wood didn't stick out so we wouldn't have to add this extra step.
For each window we first attached the bottom piece, then the sides, and lastly the top piece.
However, if you have a window that's really close to the ceiling I recommend attaching the top piece first (and making sure you measure your wood accordingly), that way you can have the frame go against the ceiling vs. leaving a gap. This will also make your window appear larger.
In the video you'll see we use a 1 x 3 for the top piece of the window frame above our sofa but we later changed that out to a 1 x 4 because we didn't like the gap it left between the frame and ceiling. Unfortunately, there's still a tiny gap but had we measured and installed the frame starting from the top for that specific window it would look much better.
Step 6: Caulk
Once your wood is installed your frames are pretty much done and you'll probably be feeling pretty giddy at this point. At least I know I was! The last step will be to caulk any gaps left between the wall and wood which will then give your windows a more finished look.
For those that are wondering, I used big stretch interior caulk but the same company actually recommends their Lexel interior caulk for use in motorhomes. They just don't sell it in white here in California and I wasn't trying to go over clear caulk with white paint.
That about wraps it up for how to frame RV windows. We absolutely love the way this project turned out and hope this post will help you decide if this is something you want to do in your own tiny home on wheels!
If you're planning an RV reno we think this is one of those projects that can easily transform your tiny home on wheels without much money, time, or skill.
If possible, we recommend framing out your RV windows before building or installing furniture. Otherwise, you may need to make some adjustments due to spacing.
For example, we had to use furring strips at the bottom of some windows vs. 1 x 3 boards since there wasn't enough space. This wasn't a big deal, just something to keep in mind.
We also recommend staining the back of the wood as some of it may show from the outside. We learned this the hard way.
If we were to do this again we may consider using 1 x 4 boards vs. 1 x 3 because we think the wider boards look better, especially at the top. Since shooting the video we have updated a couple of the top pieces of our windows, including the window behind the sofa and our window in the hallway.
You may also want to consider installing the top piece about an inch lower to cover the top black section of the screen that shows on one side of the window. Although, now that we have our roller shades installed as inside-mounted shades you actually don't notice this as much.
Other RVs with Framed Windows:
Have you framed out your RV windows? If you did it differently or have any tips to share we would love to hear about them in the comments below!
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