A skylight is without a doubt one of the best features we’ve added to our campervan. Allowing a ton of natural light through the roof makes the interior look and feel bigger plus it allows for some extra head clearance. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually not that complicated and fairly straight forward to do yourself! Follow these simple steps to install a skylight into your campervan.
Step 1: Tools, Parts & Prices
The skylight for campervan will typically range from $75-$500 CAD. We ordered ours from Icon Direct and had a wonderful experience with a great finished product! You will also need self-tapping screws, 2×2 spruce lumber, spray paint, and an adhesive sealant.
This install doesn’t require many tools but the right ones always make the job easier! Make sure you have a jigsaw with a sheet metal blade, a drill, a measuring tape, a chop saw, and a marker.
Step 2: Size & Location
Skylights come in a variety of shapes and sizes so its important to know exactly what you want before making the big purchase. Cayleigh and I went back and forth on installing the skylight over the bed (for star gazing at night) or over the kitchen. We ultimately settled on the kitchen for more headroom and a brighter overall effect as there are no windows in the middle of the van where the skylight is located.
Calculating the size of your desired skylight is one of the most important steps. First, make a list of everything you want to fit on your roof (eg. solar panels, a fan, a roof rack) and how much space each will use. For our install, we were working around our roof fan and 3 175 Watt Solar Panels.
Next, you want to check your layout inside the van for things that could potentially interfere with the skylight like top cabinets or lights. You also want to take a look at the current framing of the ceiling and the framing that you plan on adding in.
For the most sturdy option, we would recommend lining up your skylight so that it sits on top of the metal support ribs on one or both ends.
Step 3: Cutting the Hole
The most exciting part or the most stressful, depending on how you look at it😉 Before drilling any holes, you’re going to want to measure and mark the exact location of where your skylight is going to go.
NOTE: Make sure to measure the inside edge of the skylight, mot the outside. This is so that you can secure the skylight to the metal using the ridge along the perimeter.
Measure twice, cut once.
Use your jigsaw to slowly and carefully cut through the roof of your van. take your time to ensure you are precise with your lines and have someone handy to help support the piece as it begins to fall.
Step 4: Prepping the Hole
After cutting the hole, test the fit by setting the skylight over top to see if everything lines up properly. After you’ve confirmed that the fit will work, take off any sharp edges left behind from the jigsaw with a grinder and paint the open metal (we used white spray paint) to avoid any rust in the future.
While the paint is drying, measure and cut the 2×2 support beams to fit along the perimeter of the Skylight. These supports will give you something to screw the skylight into and add a ton of stability! Secure these beams into place by using self-tapping metal screws to fasten them to the inside ribs of the roof.
If your roof is ribbed like ours was, you will have one more step before the installation. Use a fiberglass product to fill the divots where the skylight is going to attach. This insured an airtight seal.
Step 5: Installing the Skylight
Once the frame is in place and the opening is prepped and level, run a thick bead of adhesive sealant around the perimeter on to of the van. Be generous to avoid air gaps where water could potentially enter.
Next, place the skylight in position and use the self-tapping screws to secure it down into the wood frame. After the skylight is in place, grab the sealant and generously apply around the entire outside edge as well as the tops of each screw. Use your finger to push the sealant into any gaps that may appear.
When in doubt, use more!
Step 6: Test it Out!
Now it`s time to check your hard work! Wait 24 to 48 hours allowing the sealant to completely dry. Grab the garden hose and flood the top of the van with as much water as possible. While you`re doing this, have someone stand inside and check for leaks.