Window Covers Vs Curtains For A Van: Pros and Cons

Window Covers Vs Curtains For A Van: Pros and Cons

Before you drive off on your first van adventure, you’ll want to make sure that you have window coverings to block out light and provide more privacy. As one of the last features vanlifers tend to add when converting their van, window covers can often be overlooked.

However, if you want to get a good night’s sleep no matter where you decide to park up, then they are essential. But there are a few different types of window coverings that you can either buy or make yourself, including curtains and insulated window covers.

In this article, we’re going to break down the main differences between window covers and curtains, as well as provide some tips for making or buying them yourself.

Why You Need Window Coverings For Your Van

Whether you have lots of windows in your van, or only the front windscreen and side doors, you’ll want to make sure that you have some way of covering them up. Window covers are one of the most important features of your van, because they block out light and provide extra privacy.

Once you’ve parked up for the night, this is when you’ll want to be able to block out your windows. This will ensure that you keep outside light out and stop people from being able to see inside your van.

However, there are also additional benefits to window coverings. If you make or purchase insulated window covers for your van, they will also help regulate the temperature inside and block out any outside noise. 

So, no matter whether you’re sleeping in a busy roadside rest stop or a secluded bush camp, you’ll still be able to get a good night’s sleep with window covers. However, there are a few different designs that people use for their vans.

Different Types of Window Coverings

There are several different ways you can design window coverings for your van. Whether you want more traditional hanging curtains that slide across, or insulated window covers that fit inside your windows perfectly, there are options for everyone.

Here are a few of the main window covering designs:

Insulated Window Covers

Insulated windows cover

One of the best ways to cover your windows is to get insulated window covers. These are usually cut to fit your windows exactly, so that they sit inside the window frame and cover the entire piece of glass. 

They are usually fabric but can also be made out of a foil insulation wrap known as Reflectix. Generally, fabric covers will also have a layer of Thinsulate or similar insulation material inside to provide extra blackout and temperature control qualities.

There are a range of ways that the covers can stick to your windows. They can either be magnetic, velcro or have suction cups, which all work to keep the cover in place. When you don’t need them, you can simply stow them away making them very convenient.

Hanging Curtains

As a more traditional style window covering, these are commonly found on many vans. Hanging curtains tend to be placed across the length of each window on the inside, so you can draw them across at the end of the day. 

They tend to be made from specific curtain fabric of varying thicknesses and block-out ability. You can choose from a range of colours depending on your own style, which is important because the curtains are permanently hanging, unlike window covers which are stowed away.

You can hang curtains in a van in different ways. For a more sophisticated installation, you can attach a curtain rail or runner across the top of your windows and use plastic hooks to run your curtains along. But for an easier design, you can also thread your curtains along a curtain rod and hang it above your window with hooks.

Roll Up Curtains

A slightly less common but easier design is roll up curtains. This requires less sewing skills, if you plan on making them yourself. Roll up curtains are simply a piece of fabric that is hung above the window and rolled upwards to be secured when you don’t need them.

You can use similar material that you would for hanging curtains, so you can choose between thicker block-out fabric or a thinner and lighter fabric. 

Roll up curtains can be attached a few different ways above the window, either by velcro or magnets. You can then roll the fabric up and use straps to keep them in place. However, they can be a bit awkward to roll up sometimes for larger windows, but they can be a good quick fix if you don’t have extensive sewing skills.

Comparing Window Covers and Curtains

Now that you know the different types of window coverings, you might be trying to work out which one suits your van lifestyle on the road. There are pros and cons to both insulated window covers and curtains, so we’ll take a look below so you can compare.

Pros and Cons of Insulated Window Covers

Window covers provide a polished look when they are in place and provide lots of positive attributes. However, they also have a couple of downsides to think about.

Pros of Window CoversCons of Window Covers
✔️Tight fit around your window means complete block out of light❌Can be annoying to fit them in your windows every night if you have a lot of windows
✔️Insulation helps with temperature control and noise❌You need space to stow them away when not needed
✔️Complete privacy with a perfect fit inside each window❌Prevents you from looking out your window as easily when they are in place
✔️Possible to DIY or purchase pre-made for your van❌Can be more expensive than curtains to DIY or buy

Pros and Cons of Curtains

The traditional style of curtains has always had their benefits in a van, but they also lack some of the features of window covers too.

Pros of CurtainsCons of Curtains
✔️Offers some privacy when drawn across the window❌Not as much privacy as window covers depending on how well the curtains cover the entire window
✔️Blocks out some light from outside (especially if you use thicker block-out material)❌Can still allow light in around the edges or if you use thinner material
✔️Curtains can add character to your van and are easy to simply draw close whenever you want privacy❌Do not have noise blocking or insulating features
✔️Possible to DIY on a budget❌Can be annoying on sliding doors because they get in the way while closing

DIY Vs Purchasing Pre-Made

You might have made your choice on whether you prefer window covers or curtains, but now comes the question of whether you make your own or pay for some pre-made options.

DIY Your Own Window Covers

If you’re trying to complete your van build all yourself, then you may be interested in making your own window covers or curtains. It’s certainly possible, with a sewing machine and some fabric. While this is ideal to keep costs down, it can be a steep learning curve if you’ve never sewed before.

You’ll want to make sure that you have the right fabric and materials, depending on whether you’re making window covers or curtains. Opting for insulation and block-out fabric is more expensive but is usually better quality for long term use.

Purchase Window Covers

Cristina holding her insulated windows cover

The other option is to purchase some window covers or curtains to fit your van. This is best if you’re short on time or prefer to get some that are more professional in appearance. 

Over at Byron Bay-based Vanketo, we are selling window covers for Mercedes Sprinter vans. These are custom made for each window, so you can be sure that they fit no matter whether it’s your windscreen or rear window. These insulated covers are the perfect addition to your van, with temperature control, noise cancellation and full block out features. 

For curtains, it can be more difficult to find pre-made curtains that fit van windows. However, it’s possible to find companies like Top Gear 2 Go who make them to order depending on your window sizes.
You can also find a range of van curtains and covers for sale on Etsy, which are often made by vanlifers themselves.

Window Covers Vs Curtains: Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of van you’ve got for road trips, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about window coverings to suit. Whether you opt for traditional hanging curtains or prefer all the benefits of having insulated window covers, it’s essential to keep outside light out and give yourself extra privacy while parked at campsites. 

We hope this has helped you decide whether you’re going to go with window covers or curtains, as well as, inspired you to either DIY or purchase some high quality ready-made options for your van.

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