I was fretting over the walls and ceiling for a long time. Would I use tongue and groove? Would I need strapping of some sort? Would I need to build the wall out in any way? What color would I stain it? Eventually I decided that for the ceiling 1/4” plywood seemed like the simplest and easiest. It turns out that the ceiling of the van in between the metal supports that run lengthwise is exactly 4 feet wide, perfect for plywood. Since I didn’t want to loose any height on the ceiling, I decided not to put strapping of any sort, and just secure the plywood pieces to the ceiling ribs. This route made the ceiling installation a lot simpler than I was gearing myself up for.
First step was measuring distances in between the ceiling ribs and then getting 1/4” plywood cut for me at the right length at Home Depot when I bought it. After that, it was time to stain and polyurethane. I used three coats of stain and one coat of poly. I put the poly on both sides of the plywood, thinking that if there ever was condensation that built up under the plywood, this would help to protect the wood. After the pieces were finished, I left them outside for a few days to help get rid of fumes.
In the meantime, I focused on running electrical wires and figuring out the electrical system a bit more, which I’ll talk about soon in a future post. I also finished up the ceiling insulation. I used the same stuff I used on the floor, 1/2” foam board. The ribs are 1/2” deep, so the foam board fit perfectly. I cut it pretty tight and the snug fit made it so I didn’t need to use anything to adhere it to the ceiling. One 4’x8′ sheet was just barely short to do the whole ceiling, so I used scraps from the floor insulation to finish the job.
Next, I figured out where I wanted the lights to go inside the van, marked up the plywood, and cut out holes for the lighting fixtures. I also cut holes along the edges to run the electrical wires along the ceiling. For the most part the wires will be hidden under the ceiling plywood, but I will need to jump them around the ceiling ribs, which is what the holes on the edges are for. I picture speaks a thousand words here. I thought of a few other ways to do this, but they all ended up being either too complicated or would involve me loosing height on the ceiling, which I really didn’t want to do. I don’t mind how the wires look. I do live in a van after all lol.
The first piece went up pretty easy. Fitting the wires into the holes to jump them around the ceiling ribs was the most annoying part, and that wasn’t too bad. I had Ace’s help to hold and maneuver the piece through this process which was really needed. I secured the plywood to the ribs using 3/4” self-tapping metal screws. I didn’t have any place to screw it into in the rear of the van (there was no rib to screw into), so I cut four small pieces of plywood and painted them the same color green and overlapped it with the door frame. Quite pleased with the result. Second piece of plywood had to wait until I had the vent fan in, the installation of which I’ll cover in a future post. When the time came though, it went up quite easy.
Cost: One 4’x8′ 1/2” foam board insulation ($13), Two 4’x8′ 1/4” plywood sheets. ($25×2), Box of 3/4” self-tapping metal screws ($7), quart stain ($8), quart poly ($12). Material cost totaled about $90. The plywood was quite expensive and if I had shopped around I probably could have found it cheaper. Though I did use all of the stain, I didn’t use all the polyurethane. It will probably last for most of the wood I need to seal on this project. I also had to buy the hole saw and a step drill bit, together around $15 from Harbor Freight.
Take Aways: The simplest route is often the best. Having help is key. Airing the plywood out for a few days before putting it up really helped with fumes.