Wood Paneling Installation

Last Updated: July 24, 2021

Wood Paneling Installation

Wood Paneling Final 2

 

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 its thing

 

The planks are relatively thin at 5/16” thickness, making them flexible enough to conform to the van’s 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 furring strips installation)

 

TOTAL COST

TBD$ USD

 


DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc), we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not.

Portrait


 

 

 

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

 

TOOLS

 

RESOURCES

  • There’s nothing to see here.

 

PRE-REQUISITE




HERE IS HOW IT GOES!

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 Nuts (Buy on Amazon) to attach the furring strips to the van walls. Not familiar with Cross Nuts? That’s fine, we wrote an article (size guide, how-to, etc.) here:

Crossnut-Heading
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″, 3/8″, or 1/2″ thick Baltic birch plywood furring strips that conformed to the van’s 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 1/2” plywood for the ceiling, 3/8” plywood for almost-flat surfaces of the walls, and 1/4” 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 risk! ¼” “regular” plywood is probably not strong enough (it will probably crack at screw locations). If you’re using the van for 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 brass countersink screws because they blend well with the wood color. To avoid cracking the paneling, 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

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

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 Silicone between planks (and between planks/furring strips), but then it would be difficult to remove them later if needed for some reason.

 

 

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About-Us-Narrow

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!