We’ve compiled information about the most common van chassis for van conversions into one area so you don’t need to sift through 5 different sites to find this information. I’m sure by now you’ve realized that the digital world of van conversions is a black hole of amazing content, you may have even lost track of time (again) and it’s 3 am while you're read this.
Topics: Van Conversion
Do I Need A Subfloor in my van conversion?
Yes! A subfloor provides a solid surface in your van conversion to secure your finished flooring to. Without a solid subfloor, your finished flooring can lift, crack and warp. Another plus of subflooring is to protect your floor against moisture and mold in a damp environment. This is something you need to be very careful from when doing a bus or van conversion.
- 1/2" to 3/4" Plywood (For Laminate Click Planks, Luxury Click Flooring, Luxury Planks Glue Down)
- 5/8" to 3/4" OSB (everything but glue down products)
- Insulation (Rigid or Reflectix)
- Self tapping screws
- 3/8" to 1/2" Plywood for furring strips
- Seam Tape
Do I Need To Run Studs/Furring Strips
No! It is possible to fasten your plywood subfloor right to the van metal flooring. You would want to run furring strips when you plan on putting insulation between your van metal floor and subfloor. Ask yourself what you plan on using your RV for and in what climates.
Should I use Plywood or OSB?
We would suggest you use 1/2"-3/4" plywood. Plywood is stronger than OSB, so if you do go with OSB be sure to use at least 5/8". If you plan on using a "glue-down" flooring, you will want to use plywood for proper bonding.
Step One: Furring Strips
Furring strips on a Sprinter Van floor. (3/8")
- Furring strips are used to allow room for under floor insulation to keep you warm in your vanlife travels. You can use spray insulation (cork at 1/8")
- Cut furring strips out of 3/8" - 1/2" plywood at 2" widths
- Place your first strip where the cargo area meets the cabin area (driver/passenger seat)
- Mark out 16" spacing down both sides of the van with a sharpy or pencil.
- Fasten a furring strip at every mark with either glue or self-tapping screws.
- Once you finish placing your furring strips, lay/spray your insulation.
- If you are going to use spray foam in your camper van conversion, make sure you cover each furring strip with tape so it does not get sprayed. You'll be scraping away spray foam for hours to be able to get a nice flat surface to lay your sub-flooring to.
- Another note on the spray foam, be careful spraying into the pillar gaps, there has been horror stories of people over-spraying and warping their exterior wall panels of the van.
* Be sure to check under your van floor to insure you don't puncture anything. Another good practice is to silicone each hole you make to make it air tight.
Step Two: Subfloor
3/4" Subfloor covered in luxury vinyl plank.
This might not be the vans subfloor you're looking at, but its right under that beautiful luxury vinyl plank!
- We lay the subfloor using 5/8" - 3/4" plywood sheets.
- Measure from your first furring strip at the front of your van to the middle of the next furring strip and mark out any cut outs.
- Overlapping sheets on the middle of each furring strip allows for enough room to fasten to your sub-flooring panels.
- Run a heavy bead of construction glue across furring strip and then lay down your sheet.
- Fasten with appropriate length screws.
* If you are using vinyl plank flooring or a glue down flooring, make sure to use a plywood with good-one-side (G1S). This provides a solid, smooth surface for optimal bonding.
- 1/4" staples
- Electric stapler (huge help)
- 1/4" birch or maple plywood sheet ($20ish/sheet)
- High Adhesion Trim/Headliner Spray Glue
- Utility knife
Below the video are some additional tips you can use to help you with building the walls of your camper conversion.
Sorry, no audio because we were rocking some "Pour Some Sugar On Me" in the background and YouTube is being sour about copyright issues.
- Cut the carpet with 1.5-2 inches of extra materials around the edges. You don't want to fall short.
- Wall Panels are cut from your 4x8 1/4" birch.
- Use heavy duty trim or automotive headliner adhesive for your panels. Elmers spray glue will have you pulling your hair out when your fabric starts to fall off. To be extra careful, especially with hanging panels like your roof, spray the panel and the material and wait 5-10 minutes for the adhesive to tack (see the bottle for instructions).
- Once glued, carefully lay your panel onto your material and flip it, use your J-roller (or hands if you must) to ensure there are no air bubbles and that the material is pressed against the panel.
- Once you have rolled/pressed the material onto the panel face, flip the panel back over so you see the back of the panel.
- Pull the material over your wall panel and staple the side that takes the LEAST amount of pulling and stretching. This will secure a side for those tricky curves and corners that will need LOTS of pulling.
- Use the staple gun to "hook" material and stretch further. MAKE SURE you check the size of the staples, the last thing you want to do is create this beautiful panel, have your fabric cut and staple through the front of it and puncture the other side.
- Always pull tight to create the "tightest" looking wall panel. See the video on how to cut your corners properly into a little dovetail to make it easier on yourself.
- Scotch Guard your vinyl wall panels when complete to protect from stains.
This will give you a beautifully covered wall panel for your van conversion.
If you don't know where to buy product for your conversion, look for some local upholstery shops who will sell you some carpet or vinyl. Amazon also has some selection but it's hard to tell what it looks like in a small image.
Carpet & Vinyl commonly used in van conversions:
- Duramax Carpet
- Automotive Carpet
- Church Pew Carpet
- Interweave Carpet
- Marine Vinyl
If you cannot find these from a local shop, give us a shout and we will do our best to help you out!
We hope this helps you on your DIY journey, if you have any questions or comments let us know!
Paved To Pines.
How much RV SOLAR POWER DO I NEED?
First, you need to ask yourself, "what kind of camper am I?"
We've split it into three categories for you to make your decision a little easier.
The Weekend Warrior
Just the essentials (DC power only)
Your battery will power lights, fans and other DC appliances. (Think of 12v appliances)
This is great if you just need to charge small gear, like phones, cameras, your roof fan, and other small accessories to keep you comfortable while camping.
A small solar panel with 1-2 batteries would suffice, with your small accessories, there would be no need for an inverter or if you did want a small one, a lighter plugin inverter is a cost-effective option.
Low power draw, 1-3 x 100 amp/hr battery bank:
- Go Power RETREAT Solar Kit (100 watts) - Perfect for keeping your battery topped up and light 12v usage (small LED lights, phone chargers, fantastic/maxxair roof fans.).
Camping with Comfort (AC/DC Power)
Your Solar and inverter systems provide clean, quiet power enabling you the freedom to camp off-grid with the ability to run TVs, coffee makers and other AC powered devices.
If this is something that sounds more like your camping lifestyle, you'll need a bigger battery bank, a 1500-2000 watt inverter (depending on appliance needs), and a large solar panel kit.
Medium power draw, 2-4 x 100 amp/hr battery bank:
WEEKENDER Solar Kit (170 watts)
ELITE Solar Kit (340 watts)
Full-time Rv lifestyle with backup power (ac/dc power)
Solar and inverter systems allow for long-term, generator-free RVing with all the comforts of home.
These kits offer a large battery bank that replenishes itself quit quickly dependant on your use. Keep in mind that, no matter what, you will still need to be mindful of turning off your systems and appliances when they're not in use. You can still drain your solar battery bank with a larger system.
High power draw, 4+ x 100 amp/hr battery bank:
ELITE Solar Kit (340 watts)
EXTREME Solar Kit (510 watts)
Wait.. What the hell are AC and DC,
Isn't that a band?
Well you are right.... It is a band, a dam good band at that.
BUT, unfortunately, cranking Thunderstruck wont install, charge, or increase your knowledge of your future RV solar power system.
Here's an easy way to understand what you need for RV Solar power!
Image copyright GoPower Electric gpelectric.com
What's the best solar panel for campervans and rv's?
Basic Solar Kits (DC ONLY) - Go Powers solar kits are expandable so they can grow with you and your solar needs with easy installation.
Complete Solar (DC) & Inverter (AC) Kits - Go Powers complete Solar Packages integrate with your van or school bus conversion (RVs) electrical system and are as simple as the press of a button once installed.
Need help installing your rv solar kit?
Contact us, and let us know if you have any questions, comments, or need a trained installer to help you with your campervan conversion.
Paved To Pines is a campervan conversion company based out of Saskatchewan, Canada. We specialize in start-to-finish van and skoolie conversion but love helping out the DIY community for tips, tricks, and partial conversions!