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How to install wood paneling in a van

Updated February 21, 2017

Cargo vans are common choices for camper conversion projects. They are a good choice for "boondocking" or stealth camping as their appearance does not advertise that the van is occupied. It is easy to install wood panelling in a van. Panelling not only neatens the interior, but the "stud wall" underneath allows for shelving and other installations to be attached. Thin, wood furring strips are used instead of 2x4s for the stud wall to preserve as much space as possible.

Measure and cut furring strips to fit each along the top and bottom of each van wall to be panelled.

Screw the top and bottom furring strips into the metal body of the van using self tapping screws.

Measure, cut and screw furring strips along the top and bottom of any windows framed in the van walls.

Cut strips of furring to be placed vertically between the top and bottom strips every 24 inches along the van wall. Screw the strips into the metal of the van wall.

Cut each wood panel so it is 1/4-inch shorter in height than the measurement from the bottom of the window down to the floor or, if there is no window, from the ceiling to the floor and 1/4 shorter in width than what is required to reach from one end of the wall to the other.

Mark the edges of the top and bottom furring strip in line with the centre of the vertical pieces installed.

Fit the wood panel in place against the furring strips on the wall. Because the panel is cut slightly smaller than the actual wall, it will be easy to place. Align any window openings so there are no gaps between the edges of the furring strip and the edge of the panel.

Screw the panel in place to the vertical strips, using the marks on the top and bottom edge of the furring strips to guide the placement of the wood screws.

Add moulding to cover the gaps left at the top, bottom and both edges, and attach the moulding with screws.

Tip

Place any insulation against the van walls before installing the panels, whether you plan to travel to hot or cold places. It's better to have it installed if needed than go through the hassle of dismantling the walls later.

Warning

While most wiring harnesses are run through the floor or ceiling portions of vehicles, check the wiring diagram before drilling into the van walls to avoid damaging an electrical connection.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Furring strips
  • Circular saw
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • Self-tapping metal screws
  • Wood panelling
  • Wood screws
  • Wood moulding
  • Insulation (if desired)
  • Vehicle wiring diagram
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About the Author

Cassandra Tribe has worked in the construction field for over 17 years and has experience in a variety of mechanical, scientific, automotive and mathematical forms. She has been writing and editing for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include culture and society, automotive, computers, business, the Internet, science and structural engineering and implementation.