Floor Installation in a Camper Van Conversion

Vinyl Flooring

A floor is a floor and we don’t have much to say about it. Maybe it’s worth mentioning we went with a thick (1″) polystyrene foam board for good winter insulation. The foam board is 20 psi capable; it’s enough to withstand human weight. On top of the foam there is a MLV sheet layer for road noise reduction. On top of the MLV a ½” thick plywood; we could have choose ¼” thick, but we wanted to be able to screw stuff into the plywood. Finally we put a vinyl sheet flooring because it will protect the other layers against water infiltration.





van-floor –> ½” polystyrene filler strips –> 1″ polystyrene –> MLV –> ½” plywood –> Vinyl sheet

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 24-30 hours

 

TOTAL COST : 665$ USD

 

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MATERIAL:

 

TOOLS:

  • Knife
  • Caulking gun
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw

 

HOW WE INSTALLED THE FLOOR IN OUR VAN*

*Disclaimer: we’re good, but not that much. Use these instructions at your own risks!

 

We cleaned our mess

Clean your mess

Cleaning is NO FUN

 

We installed strips of ½” thick C-200 (20psi) polystyrene foam board to fill the cavities on the floor

This is quite time consuming; it took us 4 hours to perform, but a good floor support is important.

We used ½” thick foam board, but it was slightly too thick; we should probably have used something in between ¼” and ½” thick. No worries, the 1″ additional foam board + ½” plywood will provide enough support.

Van Conversion Floor Installation, cut filler strips

4 hours of foam cutting

 

Van Conversion Floor Installation, filler strips final

Done.

 

We then numbered the strips and removed them to be able to continue

We numbered the strips and took pictures so we can re-assemble everything later on. 

 

The C-200 Shake®

Put some of the leftover C-200 polystyrene strips in the blender with vanilla, protein powder, ice cubes and decorate with mint. Enjoy!

C-200 Shake

The C-200 Shake

 

 

Some sort of template had to be made in order to cut the others layers

Isabelle crafted the template from some random brown paper and then transferred it to a more rigid brown thing. The rigid brown thing was then lay down in the van to validate the cuts. Not bad! So we got rid of the random brown paper only to keep the brown thing.

Van Conversion Floor Installation, template crafting

Crafting the random brown paper

 

Van Conversion Floor Installation, brown thing

The Brown Thing

 

The 1″ polystyrene foam board was trimmed to conform to van floor

Again, this is time consuming. A lot of measurements, adjustments, cut, re-cut… use what you can to get it done.

We left a gap of about ½” all around the van wall to account for installation variation, thermal expansion and to ensure there would be no squeaking noise. This gap will be filled later with Great Stuff.

 

Van Conversion Floor Installation, foam final

Getting the foam in place. Done.

 

We then trimmed the ½” plywood to conform to van floor

This step was easier, because we used the 1″ foam board as a template. And trimming wood is much more fun than foam if you ask us. Ensure to take your shirt off.

Van Conversion Floor Installation, trimming plywood

 

 

Van Conversion Floor Installation, plywood final

Done.

 

Same story with the MLV sheet: we trimmed it using the plywood as template

Van Conversion MLV trim

 

Now that the foam fillers, foam board, MLV and the plywood is all trimmed, we removed everything from the van to proceed with re-installation with adhesive.

 

We reinstalled the filler strips using the numbering and applied the 3M 4000UV adhesive.

Van Conversion, Floor, 3M 4000UV application

 

We then applied Lepage PL-300 (foam board adhesive) on top of the filler strips and lay down the 1″ foam board, the ½” plywood and added some weight on top of that.





We proceeded by section,  going forward to aft.

Van Conversion, Floor, weigth on top

Van Conversion, Floor, weight on top

The weight was left for 24 hours then removed

 

The plywood was removed and we applied the MLV soundproofing on top of the foam.

We put vinyl floor double-sided tape all around the MLV to “seal” the edges.

Double sided tape van conversion

 

And then we install the plywood on top of the MLV using, again, double-side tape

You might want to use a stronger adhesive then double-side tape; we had to re-apply glue at a few place because of the plywood sheet slight warp.

Van Conversion Tape Plywood

 

Cavities on the plywood were filled with wood filler and then sanded flush

Van Conversion Floor Sand

Give your floor some love

 

Heavy weight was put on top of the plywood and left alone for 24 hours.

no image… here is a dancing banana instead:

dancing banana

 

To seal the gap and make a nice & flat surface for the vinyl floor, we overfilled the gap with Great Stuff (Gap & Cracks), let it dry and then cut it flush with plywood sheet

Van Conversion Great Stuff Overfilled Flushed

 

It’s vinyl flooring time!

We bought 8 linear feet of a 13 feet wide vinyl roll. Since our van is 14 feet length and approximatly 6 feet wide, we cut the vinyl roll length-wise in order to obtain 1 sheet of dimension 8’x6.5′ and 1 sheet of dimension 6’x6.5″. Why not two sheets of 7’x6.5′? Because we wanted the joint to be located under the bed that’s why.





We put the first sheet of vinyl in the van and did a rough trim

We were told not to flush-trim the vinyl it right-away and that was a good tip. It’s almost impossible the vinyl will return to the same exact location after the glue is applied (because it will slightly move and stretch).

 

We folded half the vinyl sheet, applied adhesive, unfold. Same for other half. Then trimmed the vinyl all around leaving a small gap with the van walls (that will be caulk later with silicone)

Follow adhesive instructions: use the right trowel, use the right amount of adhesive (not more).

Van Conversion Vinyl Adhesive

Adhesive will be spread evenly using the “U” shape trowel…

 

Van Conversion Vinyl Pastry Roller

The vinyl was stretched and bubbles removed using a nice pastry roller

 

Then we proceeded with the other vinyl sheet. To make a nice joint between the two sheets, we slightly overlapped them and trim (at once) both sheets so they have the same exact trim

 

We caulked the vinyl floor periphery with GE Silicone II

Why Silicone, since it is messy to work with and does not look so good? Because Silicone is the most flexible caulking and will not crack at very low temperature. -30 Fahrenheit is not uncommon here…

Van Conversion Vinyl Silicone

 

Finally, we will cover the floor layers with 1/8″ plywood and stair nose

We’ll do that tomorrow…

Van Conversion Floor Layers Height

To be covered with plywood & stair nose

 

OMG WE HAVE A FLOOR!

Floor-and-banana

 

As a final touch, we added an aluminum stair edging (amzn.to/2DUAght):

Campervan Conversion Nose Edging (3)

The edging was added at sliding door, near the driver/passenger seats and at the rear doors (not shown).

Because the stair edging is only 1-1/8″ and our floor is over 2.5″ thick, we added a wood trim that we painted grey to match the van magnetic grey:

Campervan-Conversion-Nose-Edging-(2)

We added a wood trim at the sliding door (shown) and at the rear doors (not shown). The wood trim is screwed into the plywood layer of the floor (the screws are hidden by the aluminum edging).

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

  • The ½” filler strips are a little too thick. Somewhere between ¼” and ½” thick strips would be flush with the van floor and better distribute the load. But after walking on it, we can tell the stack up of 1″ thick C-200 polystyrene + ½” plywood is very capable of withstand the loads.
  • The double-sided tape worked well between the foam & MLV layers, but no so well between the MLV & plywood layers…
  • In the long run, would it be better to not-fill the lower portion of the floor and lay the 1″ polystyrene directly on upper surfaces; this way, anti-corrosive material could be applied on the lower surfaces where water could potentially accumulate?
  • We’re not sure if the MLV sheet (200$) really makes a difference in noise level…

 

INSPIRATION OF THE MOMENT

For the moment, we’re really inspired by floors. Yep. So let’s have a look on how others have done their van floor before us:

 

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, learn everything about The Van, read our VanLife Guides, or if you’re new to this start by reading The Prologue.

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

CONNECT

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CHEERS!

 

 

36 comments

  1. Comment by Slavomir & Heather

    Slavomir & Heather Reply August 14, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Howdy! Nice work on the floor! We finally got our Transit after ordering it back in March. If you were to do the floor again, would you consider screwing in wood slats on 3-4 of the raised ridges, putting your filler insulation boards between, then screwing in the ply into the slats? I’m thinking of doing that, and putting some sealant glop (not sure what yet, but something automotive) underneath to cover the screws/bolts to prevent corrosion. Will check out the other build links you provided, but thought I’d ask your expert opinion considering you guys have been on the road for a while. Thanks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 14, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Our floor seems to be OK so far! I would not use screw through the metal, especially on the floor. Let us know how it goes if you go a different route, cheers!!

  2. Comment by Scott Norcross

    Scott Norcross Reply August 10, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Hey Guys!

    Awesome website, you have honestly helped my wife and I out so much with our van build. I had a couple of questions for you:

    First, did you use any adhesive on the ½” thick C-200 (20psi) polystyrene foam board to ensure it didn’t slide around?

    Second, due to the warping, if you could redo would you use wood instead of foam board to fill in the gaps between the vans ribs? This would allow you to screw the plywood into the floor.

    Third, is there any noticeable road noise when driving even after those layers of insulation, plywood, and MLV?

    Thank you so much for all the information you’ve provided to the community, I really learned a TON from your website and really appreciate your posts!

    Scott N.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

      Hi Scott,

      1. The foam board are held in place with 3M 4000UV: “We reinstalled the filler strips using the numbering and applied the 3M 4000UV adhesive.”
      2. I think using Baltic Birch would solve the warping issue, but yeah many people use plywood as you describe.
      3. Road noise is very acceptable; in fact next time I would skip MLV.

      CHeers!

  3. Comment by Daryl

    Daryl Reply July 29, 2018 at 11:45 am

    > In the long run, would it be better to not-fill the lower portion of the floor and lay the 1″ polystyrene directly on upper surfaces; this way, anti-corrosive material could be applied on the lower surfaces where water could potentially accumulate?

    I’m about to start my floor. If you were to do it over, would you fill the lower portions?

    If water does accumulate down there, would it ever get out? anti-corrosive or not, I feel like sitting water over years will eventually win 🙂

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Still undecided, I will think about it when building a new van

  4. Comment by Rich

    Rich Reply July 16, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks for the great write up! If you were going to skip the 1/2” C200 strips how would you glue the 1” C200 down to the Transit Frame. I’m planning on using the Loctite PL 300. Or would the 3M 4000uv be better? 3Mks website doesn’t have a lot of info on whether it’s good for bonding to painted metal.

    Thanks for any insight

  5. Comment by Chris J

    Chris J Reply March 25, 2018 at 2:14 am

    How did you decide where to place the MLV? I wonder if placing it on top of the ribs / foam strips would be more effective, as it would have some room to wiggle between the foam strips. Might help to get rid of some acoustic bridging? I like what you guys did, getting ready to do ours in a few weeks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 25, 2018 at 10:26 am

      It should be installed “floating” for optimal performance, but that’s not really feasible here… honestly we would not add MLV if we had to start over. With all the foam/plywood/vinyl layers, we feel that alone would be sufficient. And MLV is quite heavy!

      Cheers!

  6. Comment by Joshua James

    Joshua James Reply March 15, 2018 at 2:07 am

    My go to info page after sorting through LOTS! I’m currently fretting over laying my foam insulation in the same pattern as my plywood… weak points at the gaps? Thinking about doing the foam board lengthwise with van and plywood horizontal on top… did you put any material between your foam board where the pieces matched up? Would this possibly squeak if not done just right?? I am going with the leaving the gaps open on the floor and laying foam board directly on top without the ‘fillers’ in between the ribs… I’ll be your test subject ;).

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 15, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I don’t think we had anything where the pieces matches up. There is no squeaks.
      Let us know how it goes!

      Cheers and good luck 🙂

  7. Comment by Justin K

    Justin K Reply February 5, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    First, thank you for your write-ups, they are amazing! Two questions on the “On second thought” sections below. So you would not full the lower portion of the floor between the gaps? What is the anti-corrosive material you mention?

    “The ½” filler strips are a little too thick. Somewhere between ¼” and ½” thick strips would be flush with the van floor and better distribute the load. But after walking on it, we can tell the stack up of 1″ thick C-200 polystyrene + ½” plywood is very capable of withstand the loads.”

    “In the long run, would it be better to not-fill the lower portion of the floor and lay the 1″ polystyrene directly on upper surfaces; this way, anti-corrosive material could be applied on the lower surfaces where water could potentially accumulate?”

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply February 7, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Hi Justin,

      I’m not sure about that, that’s why it is presented as a question 😉
      The rust inhibitor we used at a few places was similar to this one: http://amzn.to/2GW7E9d

      Cheers!

      • Comment by Justin K

        Justin K Reply February 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm

        Thanks for your reply!

  8. Comment by Sean

    Sean Reply December 6, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Hi guys,

    Great blog and build!

    Now that you have used it for a while, I am Curious if the floor stays warm in the cold weather?

    Thanks!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply December 6, 2017 at 10:02 am

      If the heater is not running, it gets cold but we have nice duvet sleepers 🙂 The heater blow hot air at floor level, so it makes the floor nice and warm when it’s running

  9. Comment by Simon

    Simon Reply November 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    How did you end up finishing the stair nose?

    Thanks for the great notes!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply November 13, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      What? We haven’t posted about that yet?? Give us a few days to get pictures and post them!

      • Comment by Ryan

        Ryan Reply January 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm

        I was wondering the same thing: How you guys did the edging for the steps where the doors are.

        • Comment by Antoine

          Antoine Reply February 1, 2018 at 6:03 pm

          Sorry for the late response, but we finally added pictures at the end of the article! 🙂

  10. Comment by Sally

    Sally Reply September 9, 2017 at 7:48 am

    We’re contemplating how we’re going to do the floor now. In fact, buying plywood today, as it may be scarce after these hurricanes. Anyhow, from what I’ve read on MLV, it needs space to move. Maybe the tight sandwich application negates its effectiveness. But I’m not sure what an alternative would be for sound proofing.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply September 9, 2017 at 9:53 am

      My feeling is that after installing most of the stuff: insulation (such as foam), plywood, finishing (such as vinyl floor), furniture in the van, etc., sound insulation in the floor is not really needed…. We would skip the MLV if we had to do it again!
      Hopefully you’re not in the hurricane path, good luck!

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  12. Comment by Vlad

    Vlad Reply April 2, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Hi what do you know about any factory installed drains/vents in the walls/floor of the Transit? Is there anything I should avoid covering with insulation and foam?

    Thanks and keep it coming!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply April 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      From what i’ve seen, they’re not actual “drain installation” they’re more like gaps here and there between the sheet metal junction. We tried not to obstruct them with thinsulate; someone shooting with spray foam would have to be more careful i guess.

      Cheers!

  13. Comment by Lewis

    Lewis Reply March 27, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Thanks so much for your great blog. I’m just embarking on my own conversion and it is incredibly intimidating. Like you I’m very wary of drilling into my van so I’m happy to see you’ve laid your floor with just adhesive.

    How is it holding up almost a year later? Do you have any issues with warping or raised sections?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 27, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Hey Lewis,
      The floor is still holding just fine! And now that we have furniture that is screwed into the floor plywood AND the van wall, I feel the floor is really secure. We had issue with one unsupported corner that raised (near the passenger seat and the sliding door), but this was during the installation not a year later. We left the plywood in the sun for a few hours and it warped… We had to bolt that corner through the van floor.
      I MUST SAY, however, that applying appropriate pressure on a large surface is not really feasible (i’m thinking of the 1″ foam board and the plywood) and we did not achieved a perfect result. You might want to look into the Morey’s solution here. That being said, we know where there are some light imperfections, but no one else noticed 🙂

      We felt exactly like you a year ago. If you don’t rush it and take your time to research, you’ll be in control! Best advice i can give is to write down your research notes, the solutions you retained and why. Before we did that, we were constantly questioning our choices.

      Good luck with your build!

      • Comment by Nick

        Nick Reply August 5, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        Having the same issue with my Promaster right now… Poly foam is cut and laid. 3/4 ply cut and laid. only problem is the largest piece seems to not want to stay down! Left it overnight with my Vinyl boards on it for weight and still nothing. I thought it might be because there’s not enough space (cut the wood with not much clearance around) so i trimmed a few sections to give it room, and still curved. Would i be better off getting a new piece of Ply and replace?

        • Comment by Antoine

          Antoine Reply August 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

          Do you have any way to fix it so it won’t curve? Or you might wanna start again with a flat plywood; don’t let it in the sun because the exposed side will dry & shrink. Similarly, if only one side get moist (by leaving it on grass for example) this side will expand.

          Good luck!

          • Comment by Ryan

            Ryan January 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm

            We had the same issue with warped plywood (we had 1/4 inch lauan plywood). We ended up going to our local hardware store and getting 8x strength loctite. It was pricey but it worked. We pulled the corners up (the center of the boards stayed mostly glued down), then we applied a healthy portion of 8x loctite adhesive, then put hundreds of pounds of stuff around the entire van.

            http://www.loctiteproducts.com/p/pl_ca_prem_adv/features/Loctite-PL-Premium-FAST-GRAB-Polyurethane-Construction-Adhesive.htm

            24 hours later, it stuck and we haven’t had issues yet 🙂

          • Comment by Antoine

            Antoine January 16, 2018 at 5:44 pm

            Well done!!

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  16. Comment by Van Williams

    Van Williams Reply July 28, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Nice Job! I just did my own insulated (sub-)floor a few weeks ago. It does look like much work, but the hours add up. Very similar installation.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about the sound proofing issue, unless your constantly on the road. As campers, you tend to spend most of your time parked at your campsite anyway.
    I would have liked more floor insulation, but my Transit has a medium roof and I’m working with very small allowances with regard to interior standing height; only used Poly-Iso between the ribs and 1/2 inch ply on top. The only major difference is that I used T-nuts and bolts to permanently attach the plywood to the van’s floor. The cabinets et al will be attached to it and I always worry what could happen in an accident. This way it has a lot more holding power.
    I didn’t go with a full cover finish flooring, but will install a real hardwood floor, only on the visible, walking areas at the end of the conversion.

    Van Williams

    • Comment by admin

      admin Reply July 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Hey, i’ve seen your work on your website, well done!
      Our floor will be hold via the bed structure & cabinets that are them self attached to the van walls.
      It’s interesting to see all the different layouts out there! Keep up the good work 🙂

  17. Comment by ghyslain

    ghyslain Reply July 28, 2016 at 8:49 am

    super travail

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