Cladding & plying the interior

Time to start working on making the interior look inhabitable! In terms of deciding what to put where – how to lay everything out – I basically roughly copied (see ‘adapted’) the SprinterVanDiaries guys’ layout – a full size raised bed with storage underneath and cupboards to the side, floor space in front and a kitchen unit.

So this is how the van looked before starting on the interior, with all the insulation and vapour barrier in and a new floor installed:


I began with the easier right hand wall, which would largely be covered by cupboards and the kitchen unit. For this reason I decided to cover the wall with plywood and not waste time and effort cladding, as this would hardly been seen.

As ever, my disorganised self forgot to take photos during the construction of this wall so I’ll skip through the process fairly quickly. I bought three large 9mm plywood sheets from Wickes which had to be cut to fit around the wheel arch and the section I left uninsulated for venting. I made a cardboard template (rather badly) of the wheel arch to help me cut the ply. I attached all the ply to the van walls with self-drilling metal screws as I talked about in Cladding the side door.

This is the finished result –


For the left side I used offcuts of ply from the various other times I’d used it to cover up to where the under-bed storage would come up to, then cladding from there on upwards, which would be visible in the finished interior.

The process of cladding the side wall was a little more complicated, as more steps had to be taken to attach all the pieces so they flowed neatly.

First I had to make beams to attach the cladding to. Since the van walls curve slightly, the beams need to be able to flex and fit the contours of the van. To achieve this I made cuts at intervals along each beam with a saw to give it a bit more bend.


I made two beams initially to attach the cladding across and attached them to the van body with metal screws. To ensure the cladding would sit flat over the metal screws I had to sink them quite far into the beams using the hole boring drill attachment.IMG_7366IMG_7367

This picture shows two beams and one section of ply attached on the left wall.


Now there were a few things I was about to do wrong which I then had to correct – the first thing was that I needed a third beam in the middle to adequately support the cladding, which is thin and would flex in the middle quite a lot. I had to attempt to slot this beam in after cladding the wall, which was not ideal! Also, as you might be able to observe, the right hand beam cannot extend further up the wall as this is where the body of the van juts out at the door frame. After the midway point up towards to ceiling, there is a greater disparity in the distance between van body and where the beam/ cladding sticks out to, so (as I will illustrate in the next photos), more than one thickness of beam was needed.

This next photo shows three mini-beams attached to the upper part of the wall, which falls away from the body a little, meaning cladding would not flow properly upwards –


As you might be able to see, the left-most beam is further into the van than those mini beams attached to the upper half. To solve this I had to attach another beam horizontally across the three mini beams –


This photo above also shows the even greater-yet distance between the van body above the side door and the space needed to attach cladding successfully. To solve this I had to attach a thicker-yet piece of wood (which I initially cut as I would a bendable beam to be attached vertically not horizontally – this did not work!) which I had to join to the vertical beam with an L-bracket, for extra support.

This enabled cladding to flow upwards successfully –



See that piece of wood vertically on the right? Without realising I accidentally metal-screwed that right into the side door runner – doh!



Since the pieces of cladding were not long enough to stretch full pieces from one end of the van to the other, I had to start some where others finished, horizontally. It is best to align these in a jigsaw fashion so as to strengthen the link. This photo I knicked from the incredibly inspiring Mike Hudson aka Vandog Traveller illustrates –

Copyright Mike Hudson/ Vandog traveller

Note: when screwing the cladding to the beams I first used a countersink drill attachment to make sure the screws would fit flush in the cladding.

Now to decide on colour! I bought Wickes light oak woodstain to paint my cladding with, this requires two coats.


The left wall, cladded, plyed and painted!

Starting to look inhabitable!

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