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Right from the start, we knew we wanted wood paneling finish in our DIY camper van conversion. It is fairly easy to obtain a nice & clean finish with the tongue and groove paneling: each plank will sit flush to the adjacent planks, creating a uniform & continuous surface.

Tongue-and-Groove-Wood-Paneling-(annotated)

Tongue and Groove doing it’s thing

 

The planks are relatively thin at 5/16” thickness, making them flexible enough to conform to the van funky surfaces. We did not sand the planks, but we finished them with varnish to protect them against a spaghetti incident.

Spaghetti Incident

Not in our Van!

 

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB

40h approximately (including frames installation)

 

TOTAL COST

TBD$ USD

 

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click and commit to buy one of the product linked, we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. Buying through our affiliate links is a great way to say thanks if we were of any help in your van conversion! Alternatively, you can visit our Say Thanks! page.

 

 

MATERIAL

  • Knotty Pine Wood Paneling, 5/16″ thick X 4″ wide x 96″ long (We bought them from our local Rona)
  • Baltic Birch Plywood Sheet, various thicknesses (We bought them from our local shop in Montreal, Langevin Forest)
  • #6 Screws, length 1/2″ and 5/8″. We used brass screws for the aesthetics… (Buy from Amazon)
  • Plusnut (Buy from Amazon)
  • Varnish

 

TOOLS

 

RESSOURCES

  • There’s nothing to see here.

 

PRE-REQUISITE

 

HERE IS HOW IT GOES!

Frames

The wood paneling is not attached directly to the van; it’s attached to “frames” that we first installed. We put frames every 2 feet or so, depending on what was possible. As usual, we did not use metal screws; we used Plusnut (http://amzn.to/2qANc8V) to attach the frames to the van walls. Not familiar with Plusnut? That’s fine, we made an article (size guide, how-to, etc) here:

Plusnut-heading-annotated

Read our guide here: faroutride.com/plusnut/

 

The frames are made from Baltic Birch Plywood; it is a high-quality plywood. For the same thickness as regular plywood, there are more layers and the material characteristics are more uniform.

It was super important for us to maximize the living area, therefore we did not want to “overdesign” the frames: instead of using typical 2″x 3″ straight stud frames, we used 1/4″ or 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick Baltic birch plywood frames that conform to the van curved surfaces.  It made the fabrication of the frames & the installation of the paneling much more time consuming, but we’re very glad we did it!

The frames are generally 4” wide.  We used ½” thickness plywood for the ceiling, 3/8” thickness plywood for almost-flat surfaces of the walls and ¼” thickness* plywood where we wanted the paneling to conform to the van curvatures.

*Disclaimer: ¼” Baltic birch plywood is THIN! Will it withstand the test of time? We think so, but if you choose the do the same, do it at your own risks! ¼” “regular” plywood is probably not strong enough (it will probably crack at screw locations). If you’re using the van as a cargo or if you plan on attaching heavy stuff to the wall, ¼” is probably not strong enough.

*pic of the frames (ceiling, walls, plusnut)

 

Wood Paneling

The wood paneling is screwed into the plywood frames, every two feet or so. We used #6 countersink screws in brass material, because the brass blends well with the wood color. To avoid the paneling to crack, we pre-drilled and countersunk every hole before screwing into it. This is time consuming, but the pine is quite soft and will crack at installation or later with the cold/hot/vibration.

*pics

 

Those foam blob though…

The foam blobs are covered with fabric; we used 3M 90 adhesive to hold the fabric in place. If you go that route, test it before: too much adhesive and you will stain the fabric. It does not have an OEM look, but it’s fine with us!

*pic

 

To keep to option of removing the foam blobs, we fabricated a foam plug. We can remove that plug to access the plastic pin and remove the foam blob.

*pic

 

To make a nice transition between the ceiling and the overhead storage, we fabricated a “L” shape in plywood that we covered with fabric:

*pic

 

At Last

At the back of the van, we…………………..

 

 

This article is a work in progress…

To be notified when the final write-up is available, subscribe to our email list:

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Does the wood paneling squeak? It does, but no enough to bother us. The music / road noise / etc compensate for the squeaks sound 🙂

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, or learn everything about The Van.

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, we’re converting it to a campervan and we are now selling our house to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

ABOUT US

 

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan and we are now selling our house to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!

 

 

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