It was early March in Florida: The weather was gorgeous, but the temperature in the van was sky high — even at night. No problem, we thought, we’ll just crack the windows!
Then we spent the next half hour killing mosquitoes. You can still see a few blood spots on the roof of the van. :/
Most van dwellers follow good weather. That means mosquitoes and other bugs can be a problem year-round, whether you’re in Oregon, Michigan, Louisiana or somewhere in between. Even reading in the van with a small light can attract harmless-yet-annoying numbers of moths.
After that night killing mosquitoes in Florida, we set out to install screens in our van windows. (We first showed them off in an updated video tour of our van, Red Delicious.) Here’s a how-to in case you need help keeping the bugs away, too.
How to Install Screens on Your Van Windows
Step 1: Measure the windows you want to screen off.
- The windows on the sliding doors (the middle row) roll down and help cool the sleeping area, so that’s what we decided to screen off.
- The back row windows are just those little wings that pop out, so we decided it wasn’t worth it to screen them.
- Important! Measure the dimensions of the full area you’re trying to cover — including the strip of car interior around the window, not just the glass itself. Add about 2-4” all around just to give yourself some room for error.
Step 2: Buy some screen and duct tape.
- We opted for a roll of window screen that you can get from a hardware store. It’s like a replacement if you need to fix screen that has been ripped and is sold in a roll for $10-20. Make sure it’s large enough to cover the area you need it to.
- If you wanted to buy mosquito netting, that is also a possibility. We liked the firmness/structure of the screen because it was easier to cut and install, but feel free to experiment!
- You’re going to install these using duct tape. It’s the only tape with strong enough adhesive to stand up to the heat of a car, but isn’t so permanent that it’ll ruin anything.
- We tried clear tape the first time and it only lasted a month. You’ll still need to replace the duct tape once a year, but that’s not bad!
Step 3: Cut screen to size, then tape in place.
- Re-measure the area you’ll be covering before you cut the screen. Cut the panels of screen large enough so they can be held in place by both tape and a shut door.
- You’ll want the tape to adhere to metal wherever possible, not fabric. Your door will hold at least three sides in place. It’ll extend the life of the tape and make sure no sneaky bugs get in through loose tape.
- Cut short (6-8”) pieces of tape. You’ll want these at the ready since you’ll be busy holding the screen in place. If you want, you can loosely tape the top corners in place so it stays centered.
- Tape all the way around, layering over each piece of tape for added security. Use scissors to trim excess screen as needed.
- Try to keep the screen taut so it looks neat and doesn’t develop ripples in the tape that could allow bugs in.
Step 4: Enjoy and maintain.
- Roll down your windows and enjoy your bug-free haven!
- You might need to replace the tape every 8-12 months. Use Goo Gone if there is any adhesive left behind.
- Consider a mosquito net to go over the back of the van if you leave your trunk/liftgate open often.
Do you have any other ideas for keeping bugs out of your van? Did you try something different when installing screens? Any other tape ideas? Please share in the comments!