Wood Paneling Installation

Wood Paneling Final 2

Wood Paneling Installation


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 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!





40h approximately (including furring strips installation)





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  • 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 on Amazon)
  • Cross Nut (Buy on Amazon)
  • Varnish





  • There’s nothing to see here.




Furring Strips

The wood paneling is not attached directly to the van; it’s attached to furring strips that we first installed. We installed furring strips every 2 feet or so, depending on what was possible. As usual, we did not use metal screws; we used Cross Nut (Buy on Amazon) to attach the furring strips to the van walls. Not familiar with Cross Nut? That’s fine, we made an article (size guide, how-to, etc) here:

Read our guide here: faroutride.com/crossnut/


The furring strips 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 furring strips: instead of using typical 2″x 3″ straight stud frames, we used 1/4″ or 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick Baltic birch plywood furring strips that conform to the van curved surfaces.  It made the fabrication of the furring strips & the installation of the paneling much more time consuming, but we’re very glad we did it!

The furring strips 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.

Furring Strips Left Forward

Furring Strip Van Conversion

Furring Strips

Furring Strips Right Wall
The two horizontal furring strips are installed because there is a change in curvature along this orientation

Furring Strips Ceiling Van

Wood Paneling

The wood paneling is screwed into the plywood furring strips, 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.

Wood Paneling Final 1
Upper-Left: it’s a small fan mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, we highly recommended it! Buy on Amazon.

Wood Paneling Final 2





Does the wood paneling squeak? It does yeah. We learned to live with it and we don’t really mind it. Music easily covers the squeaks 🙂 To get rid of it, we could probably apply a little of Silicone between plans (and between planks / furring strips), but then it would be difficult to remove them afterward if it’s needed for some reasons.




Foam Blobs Makeover






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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!




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69 thoughts on “Wood Paneling Installation”

  1. Hey Antoine and Isabelle. There are a bunch of wires that are hanging down and some of your pictures, and then they suddenly disappear! Where did they go? Are they behind the cabinets or behind the wood paneling walls? We are currently trying to figure out what to do with our wires.

    • Yes, most of the wires are behind the wood paneling and under the bed; but nothing is “hanging down”. The wires you see in the pictures were not fixed as we were not done yet with the wiring when we took the pictures.

  2. Hello,
    starting my van build and I saw you mentioned the wood squeaks? Are you referring to the tongue and grove?
    It looks so clean. Thanks

  3. What did you do to attach the tounge and groove ceiling boards in the very back of the van where the wire runs? Did you install a board to screw up and into or what?

  4. Hi there! Thanks for the article! I was wondering if you had an estimate of how many square feet of cedar tongue and groove paneling you used for the entire van? Thanks again!

  5. Hey there! What size cross nuts did you use on the ceiling? The sizes are so different than the walls! Thanks!

  6. Hi Antoine,
    We LOVE your build and all your advice. So thank you very much. Quick question: Do you think a 7.5″ wide paneling would be too wide (i.e. not follow the curve of the van as well) if placed lengthwise through the van like yours?


    • I’d say it depends more on the thickness of the wood. Some people use large sheets of plywood, so I’m guessing 7.5″ wide would work 😉

      Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the detailed instructions on yall’s build. Its been extremely useful. I was wondering if there was any reason that you didn’t do all of your wall/ceiling panelling completely before installing bed, cabinets, ETC?

    It seems like it would be simpler to install the floor, complete wall insulation, run electrical/plumbing, completely panel the walls and ceiling then begin installing items such as cabinets, bed, ETC. Is there a reason that you did not take this route? Obviously the method you took came out great, just wondering if there was reasoning behind it. Thanks again for the help!

    • Hi!
      In fact there is no paneling behind the cabinets… There’s no need for it, it would be “dead weight” and waste space. But I agree that paneling the whole thing would make thing easier and the cons are almost negligible… So it’s up to you to choose your preferred method 🙂

      Good luck!

  8. Hi Antoine, are your ceiling boards connected to anything forward of the furring strip attached to the ceiling rib closest to the cab? Up where it ends above the headliner and you made the nice L shape piece covered in fabric?

    Thanks for the help!

  9. Hi Antoine, I’ve been getting inspiration from your build and am starting on a similar layout. Thank you for sharing.

    I was wondering what you did with the harness of wires that runs above the rear doors and along the driverside wall. It looks like you ran them above the cieling above the rear doors? I was thinking of paneling over them along the wall as well. Thanks again.



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