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Old 06-27-2021, 02:28 PM   #1
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 262
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466 / MD3060
Window "Delete" without the Delete! Sign Vinyl window treatment

Skoolie Fam!
We wanted to keep that school bus look in our conversion, so we kept all of the windows and covered them with sign vinyl, R-Tech foam and plywood walls - the sign vinyl worked amazing so I thought I'd share my experience incase anyone else is contemplating this route instead of window delete or painting over the windows. You're basically applying a giant sticker to each window to block out the sun, but if you ever want to remove the window cover you can easily remove the vinyl (opposed to paint or full window-delete).
I did this project completely solo, so if you have a partner to help you it will make the peeling and application easier, but it isn't so bad solo either.

I used Oracal Matte White Sign Vinyl, it took 3 rolls to cover 7 window bus plus my trial & error - hopefully this guide will save you all some of the headache and wasted material I experienced.
All in - the project cost approx. $65 to cover all my windows with vinyl, probably $20 worth of R-Tech foam board. I used 2 pieces of .75" board because I had it left over, you could get away with a single piece to match your dimensions.

What you'll need:
  1. X-acto Knife or other utility blade
  2. Cutting mat / cardboard / something to cut on
  3. Sign vinyl - measure your windows for the amount you need, I used 3 rolls.
  4. Windex or other glass cleaner - if you have tinted windows use amonia-free solutions only.
  5. spray bottle with water and a dash of dish soap. you can youtube this step also if you want a deep dive, basically you need a water/soap solution to act as a barrier for the vinyl during the application.
  6. small squeegee - i had one in our shower, this worked perfect.

How To:
  1. Label and measure all of your windows (if you haven't already) - you'll need the dimensions of the glass pane itself, not the exterior frame. I labeled my windows P01 - D14 for passenger and driver side, and the window number.
    Note: You can always trim off the excess vinyl after application, but it is nice if you don't have to.
  2. Lay out your vinyl on a long table or floor and start cutting! Use a ruler and X-acto knife or utility blade, be as accurate as possible as it will reduce headaches later when you're applying it to the windows.
  3. After cutting label the back of each vinyl piece with its designated window(i.e. P01, P02 etc.), then roll the vinyl backwards on itself. The vinyl backing is rolled so tight for shipping you need to help it relax a little bit to help you with application - during my first trial the backing kept curling back on itself while I tried to peel the vinyl off and it caused major disaster time after time. On the second attempt, I let the rolls sit for a few hours with rubber bands around them to relax the backing a bit so I could lay them flat on the table to peel.
  4. When you're ready to apply the vinyl - get a clean, flat working space near your windows to lay the vinyl out. You'll want it flat, vinyl-side down to peel off the backing. Start with one corner, holding the adhesive vinyl down on your table and peeling away to the opposite corner. Go slow at first so you get a feel for how the material acts.
  5. Once your backing is peeled completely off, ensure the vinyl will stay flat on your table and leave it there while you move to the next step.
    Note: it is best to turn off all fans for this, as you don't want any dust blowing around that could land on the vinyl and you don't want any wind while you're applying the vinyl to the window.
  6. If you haven't already, clean your window off with Windex or other glass cleaner. I used ammonia free because there was a tint on my windows. Clean them really well, trying to remove all lint and dust in the process.
  7. THE MAGIC STEP! Use your water/soap solution to spray down the window, really soak the thing. You want complete coverage for the vinyl to stick to - this provides a barrier between the adhesive and the surface you are sticking it to so you have some time to correct the position and work out the bubbles. This literally is the magic ticket - I went through an entire roll trying to stick the vinyl to a dry window before I learned I could use the water/soap barrier.
  8. Once your window is soaked, go pick up your vinyl by the top two corners and carefully move over to the window. There will be a TON of static when you pick the vinyl up, so it's going to go crazy as-is. Just hang on, keep the sticky side facing away from you, and support the vinyl with your body if needed.
  9. When you get to the window, line the vinyl up to the window with your eyes. Stay 5-6 inches away at least, the static will make the vinyl jump out towards the window.
    Because your window is soaked with the water/soap solution, even if you touch the vinyl to the window you will be able to remove it or move it around as needed.
    Try to get the vinyl onto the window in one go. Just line it up and slap that sucker on there. You can wiggle it around on the window a bit to get it lined up perfectly - the water/soap solution is the absolute requirement for this to work out.
  10. Use your squeegee to pull the water out, starting from the center and working out towards the sides. Work the squeegee slow and steady, pulling in one direction from the center outwards, repeating until all of the water and bubbles have been worked out. It helps to have a towel close by to absorb the water as you pull it out of the vinyl - I noticed it kind of wants to reabsorb underneath the vinyl if you don't soak it up right away.
  11. Wipe off all excess water.
  12. Stand back and enjoy, you did it!

I posted some photos below, but the directions above will pretty much cover it. I had no real experience with this before - just some trial and error, and some hard youtubing.
Overall I'm extremely pleased with the end result - the outside appearance of the bus is untouched, and the inside walls are insulated, and covered - ready for counters, closets, and our bed.
I plan to do this with some frosted window covering of some kind for the shower as well, maybe even for a stencil on the outside of the bus when we're done with the build if I'm feeling squirrely!
If you made it to the end, thank you for reading this! I wouldn't have made it this far in our build without this forum and I'm hoping to give back a bit
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Old 06-27-2021, 10:41 PM   #2
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Good Stuff

Looks awesome. The framing & insulation work are well thought out. Thank you for taking the time to document your experience. Great way to save energy, stay comfortable, and add privacy. The later two make for more pleasurable activities in the space.

We used a similar product (Velimax). From outside, we can't distinguish the difference from the factory tint. Appears to be the same window tint as the pane above. Inside, satin textured, like wall paper.



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Old 06-28-2021, 01:29 PM   #3
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I love that black vinyl with the black window frames - classy!
You're right about the outside appearance - you can't even tell that the windows are covered, they look the same as the open windows above them.
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Old 06-28-2021, 04:56 PM   #4
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Ha. Thanks. Classy as the initials carved into the anodizing.
Are you painting or staining the wood walls? Stenciling inside or outside, only? I'm looking forward to seeing more as you tie it in.

A view from outside...unexciting.
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Old 06-28-2021, 09:50 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
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Year: 1995
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466 / MD3060
Most of the walls will actually be covered by the bed, kitchen counters, and our dinette seating. I'm putting up 1/4" plywood over the insulation to just as to give a barrier between the foam and the back of drawers , our pillows, etc.
The walls that will be visible will probably get some kind of shiplap or pallet-wood finish. We're doing shiplap-like planks on the ceiling.

We're thinking about a stencil on the outside - I'm a designer & illustrator by trade, and my wife and I are taking our mobile business consulting & marketing business on the road, so we thought it might be nice to have something MORE eye-catching than a regular ol' skoolie pull up in our clients' parking lots.
I like the idea of using the sign vinyl instead of paint so we can remove it if it ever becomes a pull-me-over invitation.
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