September 16, 2014

Panelling & Insulating the Van

The first step in most conversions is to panel and insulate the van.

Bear in mind at this point that you might also want to run hidden wiring for your electrics (e.g.ceiling lights) and install structural timbers for your furniture to be built onto.

Commercial vans are often ply-lined already – if that’s the case and the plywood is still in good condition, why not save yourself a job and reuse it? I’ve done this twice and it saves both time and money.

Even if the van walls are fully panelled out, the roof probably won’t be. In the past, I have used lightweight 3mm plywood, although this is not thick enough if you want to hang/fasten anything to the ceiling (apart from lightweight stuff like lights). Next time round I might use slightly thicker plywood. (Click here for plywood.)

Here are a few photos from the insulation and panelling of my van. First step was to remove the floor and side panels – the pieces of wood on the floor are about to become battens to raise the floor and allow insulation to be placed under the floor boards:

Van floor before insulation and boarding

Van floor before insulation and boarding

Next step was to cut and Sikaflex (caravan adhesive) into place the batons and then unroll the loft insulation between them.


Click image to view details of the Sikaflex Adhesive

Click image to search for Sikaflex on eBay

Spacing the batons the same distance apart as the width of the insulation rolls makes this very quick and easy:

Insulating the floor and wall panels with wool loft insulation

Insulating the floor and wall panels with wool loft insulation

In case you are wondering, the loft insulation was natural wool and bought from B&Q on a discount day. (Alternatively, I have seen it on eBay – click here). It is stuck down using this, which was purchased for the carpet lining, to come later:

Styccobond Contact Adhesive - used for sticking carpet lining and insulatin to panels

Styccobond Contact Adhesive - used for sticking carpet lining and insulatin to panels

Most people seem to buy this glue in spray can format but I prefer painting it on and I think that this way is less wasteful and messy, too. It smells quite exciting, however, so make sure you keep the van doors open while you are doing it…Click here to buy this glue on eBay

(Make sure you buy a good quality glue. Cheapo alternatives have a habit of softening in hot weather – causing your carpet lining to start peeling off the roof and walls of your van.)

Once you have completed all of your insulation and hidden wiring, etc, it’s time to put the panels back on. You should be left with something that looks pretty similar to what you started with – but don’t be disheartened, insulation really makes a lot of difference:

Insulation completed - note colour-coded wires

Insulation completed - note colour-coded wires

Note: You may notice in the picture above that the nearside wheel arch isn’t boxed in or insulated. The problem was that when it was boxed in, the seat/bed wouldn’t fit over the wheel arch properly. This is quite a common problem, I think. What I did instead was to cover the wheel arch in thin rubber foam and then carpet over it. This has worked well with no signs of damp/condensation although in seriously cold conditions it might not be ideal.

Next: Fitting windows

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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.