Van Conversion - Building The Walls

Once I finished building the floor it was time to tackle the walls and I definitely had a lot of choices of how this job should be done.

You only have to take five minutes and start searching through van build posts to see how many different variations are available. For me, I needed a few boxes to be ticked.

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Cheap
  • Light as possible (Fuel is expensive here in the UK)
  • Fairly easy to fit with no specialist tools

I really like the look of wood and was very tempted to go for a full wood built wall. But, this can get really heavy, especially for a van of my size. Also, I was worried that it would end up looking like a sauna inside. What I decided on in the end was a 5.5mm plywood wall and then covered it in an auto carpet. This option ticked all the boxes for me.

First thing you need to do is have a suitable structure to attach the wall too. You can either build a frame or attach to an existing frame work, like the struts of the van itself. My van is fully metal and has a good deal of suitable metal work so I opted for a bit of both. I used the wooden struts where there was a lack of metal.

For attaching wood to metal I just used self tapping screws that you can buy at any hardware store. I used a lot to make sure nothing came loose. Once the carpet is on that's it, no getting back there to tighten things up. Wood to wood was just your basic wood screws of various lengths.

It worked out that the ply boards could attach to metal all the way around the edges which was great. Less work for me to do. The only issue was in the middle where there was a lot of give in the wall so I decided to build a wooden beam to give more support.

In my van that are some slim bits of metal that come away from the main skin of the van itself. This provided perfect fixing points for my wooden beam.

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I attached a piece onto this with self tapping screws. Make sure you get the right size. You do not want to puncture the side of your van with a screw. Once the first piece is on you can then build it up to the same size as the metal at either end.

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A van is never perfectly straight. They have curves and some really odd angles which makes this next bit a huge a faff. Luckily I still had the perspex walls from the original owner. I failed to sell them on eBay which was a blessing in disguise. They were so handy using as a template.

If you've not got this then I suggest using cardboard and cutting out a template to bring onto your ply boards. This will save a lot of time and hassle. Even with this as a template I can guarantee you will come to areas that just don't make sense. Perhaps it's just me, I'm far from being an expert at all this.

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At this point we'll assume your walls are up and fixed in.

My next task was to cover the walls. Like I said at the beginning of this, I chose to cover the walls in auto carpet. This is not the same carpet you use in your house for the flooring. I'm almost certain that stuff just wouldn't work. The carpet I used was purchased from this company I found on eBay. If you're going this route, or need auto carpet for any other jobs, I can't recommend these guys enough. The carpet is good quality and has a four way stretch built into it which massively helps with getting it around edges or into the corners. 

I cut a section of carpet roughly to size and clamped it to the top of the wall. From here I sprayed the glue onto the surface of the wood and also on the carpet. Start at the top and work your way down. This glue gets tacky real quick so it's best to work in small areas rather that trying to do the whole thing. The four way stretch really helps if you've got any curved sections and you can work it to make sure there's no creases.

For the edges I used a combination of scissors and a sharp Stanley knife to get a nice clean finish.

I'm really happy I chose the carpet covering. It makes it feel nice and comfortable inside and has hugely transformed the look and feel inside a vehicle that's designed to carry good and tools. Here's the link again should you wish to purchase some. Plenty of colours and the delivery is very quick.


End Notes

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