My 50 years of RV ownership have taught me that there are many maintenance jobs I can do myself to save money.
Replace RV Window Shades and Curtains on a Budget
If you are looking for a low cost way to get rid of your old RV window treatments and replace them with attractive new ones, you'll find that doing so is fairly easy.
Most people hate the thought of dumping their windshield curtains and day night shades, even though they no longer are attractive due to age and wear, because replacing them is normally quite expensive. However, if you keep your coach long enough, you're going to have to make some window treatment upgrades.
This being the case, the best thing you can do is try to find ways to save money doing it, and still wind up with something that looks nice while still giving you some privacy when traveling. You also need some that will provide a certain amount of protection from weather, so you want to make sure that those you use for replacement purposes are of decent quality.
Here are a few ideas you can use that will save money and will also make your travel unit more attractive.
Two Solutions for Replacing RV Windshield Curtains
There are two ways to to replace RV windshield curtains that work well:
The first, which is a little pricey, appears in the video, but basically shows how a couple cleverly installed a special type of window shade. The only problem I see with it is that the fit is not exact, so there are slight openings on either side of the shade. However, one can fix this problem simply by sliding a length of insulated aluminum bubble wrap behind the two sides of the main shade.
The second, which is the route I chose, is explained by the following story. I believe it to be much more economical than the first choice and like it because it provides complete privacy and great insulation.
Many years ago I had a beautiful but older Beaver Motor Home that my husband and I just loved. The curtains on the dash had become sun warn and threadbare, and I wanted to replace them. The RV dealership parts store wanted more than $300 to install others that were of much lower quality and really would not have looked as good.
Instead of buying from them, I went to my local Goodwill store and found two matched sets of heavy, lined, pinch-pleated draperies for $20. I took them to a local tailor, gave him my dimensions and some Velcro, and for another $40 I had not one, but two complete sets of curtains! They matched my décor perfectly, looked great and I saved myself $240! Today, the savings would be greater because costs for curtains have increased significantly.
The irony in this situation is that the only work I had to do was find a tailor and find some good, used curtains that matched my décor. Even if I knew how to sew, which I do not, paying a tailor to do the job was well worth the money.
Anybody can do as I did, but there is also more people can do if they want to save a bundle on replacement RV window treatments.
Matching What You Have Will Be Difficult
RV window curtains and blinds are originally created by professional decorators and are made with specific sizes and types of materials that are color matched to the decor of your travel unit. Unless you are willing to spend a great deal of money to have a professional color and fabric match what you have in order to recreate its original look, you will have problems trying to buy something that is similar. Therefore, the best you'll be able to do is find alternatives that will look nice and be reasonably priced.
Creative Alternatives Can Produce Better Solutions for You
When you purchase an RV it comes as an "all in one" package. In other words, what you see is what you get. Over time, some of the elements of that package become worn and need to be repaired or replaced because they either
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- get too dirty to keep clean,
- no longer function properly,
- suffer from water damage, or
- become outdated.
When these things happen, it's up to you to decide whether spending a great deal of money is worthwhile. After all, you really don't know how long you will keep your coach. Since replacing RV windshield curtains can easily cost upwards of $600, what you decide to do can make a big financial difference for you.
- If you buy them at a dealership, that's the minimum you'll pay, and the quality will not be that great.
- If you buy from a decorator, you can easily double that price.
- If you find a tailor or make them yourself, from scratch or by modifying something you buy, you can save lots of money.
The Least Costly Way to Replace Side Window Curtains or Shades
The most attractive and least expensive way I have found for replacing the curtains or day/night shades on RV side windows is to get rid of them and install aluminum mini blinds. Blinds.com is the least expensive venue I know of for buying them. This company offers best deals on custom-cut aluminum mini blinds, and each time I have ordered from them, the measurements have been exact and the blinds beautiful.
Personally, I have found that using mini blinds with glossy finishes give me the most privacy with the least expense and the least amount of work. Glossy finishes let dust simply slide off, so no "taking down, washing and replacing" is required. A simple once-over with a vacuum or light duster keeps them clean and beautiful.
I have done this twice now, and both times I have saved several hundred dollars. If you are handy, you can do the measurements and installation yourself. If not, you can hire someone to do the job for you and will still save money. If you decide to do the install on your own, all you will need is a cordless driver that comes in a kit made by Dremel. In addition to installing mini blinds, it has myriads of other uses.
My husband has replaced every single side window blind in two different motorhomes using this tool, and he says it works like a charm. RV dealerships will charge at least $600 plus the cost of installing them, but I was able to do replace my RV side window units for an entire recreational vehicle for less than half of that amount using this tool.
One of the nice things about mini blinds is that they fit well under wrap-around valances. so if you are replacing day/night shades they work beautifully. Also, they come in a great variety of colors, so you can easily match them to any interior. If you choose aluminum blinds, they will never rust, so you no longer have to worry about water damage!
Big box stores that sell these types of blinds charge a great deal for them, but if you use the company I referred to above, your savings will be greater.
Replace Your RV Window Treatments Economically
As I have said many times before, a motorhome or camper is nothing more than a bunch of systems on wheels. People do not realize that many of them use parts that are exactly the same as those used in homes and that you can purchase them for far less money if you stay away from RV parts stores. While some must be ordered from dealers because they are made specifically for recreational vehicles, others can be created or purchased elsewhere for much less.
This is exactly the case when it comes to using products to replace old RV window treatments. Generally, all it takes is some creative thought, a measuring tape, some research and a few dollars.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I replace my RV blinds with faux wood blinds?
Answer: You can, but a better choice would be glossy aluminum mini blinds, because they are lighter, thinner and much easier to keep clean. Wood might be too thick if you have valances with side pieces. It's always a good idea to put the lightest weight materials in an RV.
© 2014 Sondra Rochelle