Carpet lining and flooring your van

A common approach with smaller van conversions is to carpet the walls and ceiling of the van.

This looks smart, helps with insulation and is quite car-like in the effect it achieves. It also isn’t (quite) as difficult as you might think.

I’ve included a photo my van below. We started on the ceiling, thinking it would be hardest (as it’s upside down). In fact, the ceiling was easiest as it was large and flat – more so than the sides and doors…

Van conversion - carpet lining

This isn’t regular carpet – it’s automotive stuff with a very short pile and almost no backing, so it’s flexible and relatively thin. If you have a car now, it is probably similar to the stuff used on the floor/gearbox hump/roof lining.

To stick the carpet on, you need lots of contact adhesive. I used the paint-on type, many people prefer spray alternatives, but make sure you get a good quality glue. Cheaper alternatives tend to soften in hot weather, resulting in your carpet falling off the walls and ceiling…

Good, smelly contact adhesive:

Styccobond Contact Adhesive - used for sticking carpet lining and insulatin to panelsClick here to buy this on eBay

(If you do choose the liquid adhesive option, then despite the instructions on the tin, it is not advisable to paint it directly onto the carpet. This is because you may end up having it soak through and be visible from the outside of the carpet. Use the technique described below, instead)

Before you start, you need to carefully consider how you are going to use the carpet. Obviously a minimum number of visible joins is the goal, which means covering large areas in single pieces where possible, but it isn’t always possible and can be quite wasteful, so you need to strike a balance.

The technique for gluing the carpet is as follows:

  • Apply a fairly generous layer of adhesive onto the wall/ceiling panel, then press the carpet lightly to it so that it gets a thin layer of adhesive on its backing. (If you are using spray adhesive you may be able to just spray the carpet backing lightly instead.)
  • Remove the carpet again straight away and leave the glue to go off for 5-10 minutes, depending on the ambient temperature.
  • You are now ready to apply the carpet permanently. Start with one edge and work downwards/outwards, as appropriate. It shouldn’t move around too much but does need to be smoothed out and stuck down carefully and firmly.

Getting a really neat, bubble-free result takes practice, but it isn’t impossible for the beginner. Again, having a willing accomplice makes a lot of difference, especially with large pieces of carpet which are quite unwieldy.


There isn’t much to say about flooring. I’ve used both domestic carpet and vinyl floor covering and found that while I like the feel of carpet under my feet, the benefits of vinyl flooring covering easily outweigh this – easy to wash and sweep clean and waterproof against spills.

When I used vinyl, I glued it down. When I used carpet, I just screwed it down around the edges (into the van’s plywood flooring and under the door trim). Both methods worked well.

Next: Furniture…

Back to Conversion Guide Index

Disclaimer: All material is provided for information purposes and is my opinion only. I can take no responsibility for the accuracy, suitability, reliability or safety of the information in this guide.

5 thoughts on “Carpet lining and flooring your van

  • January 25, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I recently had an email asking whether you could carpet straight onto the walls of a van (without ply-lining or insulating it). I’m not sure this would be a good idea – here’s why:

    There are a number of good reasons to board a van out before you carpet it:

    – You can place insulation between the boards and the metal walls of the van – essential to cut down on condensation and help keep the temperature comfortable in cold/hot weather
    – It gives you a flat, wooden surface that you can screw furniture and fixings too, etc
    – It looks more professional to have flat walls

    Technically, you certainly could just glue the carpet to the metal walls of the van but I wouldn’t do it personally, if only because of condensation. Uninsulated metal surfaces (e.g. the whole of the back of the van) will suffer badly from condensation when you sleep/cook in the van. I don’t think that the carpet alone would form an effective insulating layer, so you might end up with damp carpet, which would be unpleasant and take ages to dry out.

    Ply-lining (boarding out) a van without having the right templates would be a chore (unless you are good at that kind of thing) but there are companies who provide kits with each piece ready cut – so you just have to screw the boards into place. One such company is, although I haven’t used them personally (all of my vans have been secondhand and already boarded).

  • June 6, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Bought a minibus to do a camper the roof is a bit tatty ,could I put the carpet straight onto the original ceiling,without taking the old felt carpet of thank you

    • June 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Meryl,

      I’ve never tried this, so I can’t say for sure. But my instinct is that you will have problems sticking carpet to carpet. If you’re desperate/determined (!) one option might be to staple or use carpet tacks as well as glue.

      Hope this helps,


  • June 30, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Hi, my van is already lined with ply and I’m about to remove the panels to cover them. I’ve seen lots of photos of vans completed and they look really nice. But I can’t see any visible sign of screwing/fixing the ply back on to the walls of the vans. How do people do this?

    Thanks in advance,


    • June 30, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Paul,

      What I think most people do is to carpet the inside of the van with the panels already fitted. So the screwheads are below the carpet. That’s certainly what I did.

      Hope this helps,



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