In today’s post, I want to show you what we did for ceiling and wall paneling after we completed the ceiling and wall insulation from the previous post. First we chose to go with a Pine Tongue and Groove Plank to serve as our wall paneling. We felt like planks would be much easier to deal with than big 4 X 8 sheets of 1/4 or 1/8 inch wall paneling. The planks turned out to be a breeze, well mostly. 😉
Tools and Supplies Needed
- Measuring Tape
- Pine Tongue & Groove Planks
- Circular Saw
- Sand Paper
- Power Drill
- Roberts Double-Sided Carpet Tape
- Short Sheet Metal Screws (length & weight will vary)
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Paint Thinner
Astro Camper Van Ceiling and Wall Insulation
After working with insulation for a few days, it was such a relief to do something different to the van. Well, part of the relief may be that installing planks is a fairly easy task and the results are so nice looking compared to a sheet of wall paneling. This is the part of the build where I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m building a van!” The planks really give it a good finished look.
Watch Build 4 Video – Ceiling and Wall PanelingIn my previous insulation post, I suggested it was a good idea to build up your insulation to the vans beams and ribs. Wall paneling, or planks in this case, should be installed to a flat, straight surface. Could you imagine trying to install a large piece of wall paneling to a curved surface? You need to make adjustments to build up this surface and flatten it out. In our case, we made custom boards to achieve this goal. (See image right)
For my van, we built up the insulation to be even with the center van beam, but when we ran a straight board from the center to the back of the van, we noticed there was a gap. This is why we added the custom support board.
On the front part of the wall near the driver’s seat, we also had to make a custom board with grooves cut out to allow the board to flex with the contour of the wall. It was a little tricky doing it this way and consumed some time, but it turned out great. Remember this when building your van as it may come in handy. I learned this trick from my Dad. Not many vans are perfectly square inside.
Now that we have some of the prep work complete, let’s talk about the planks themselves. We found these planks at Home Depot. They are 8 ft long X 4 inches wide and 5/16 inch thick. They are called “Pine Ridge V-Groove Planks” and can be purchased in store or online. Below is a look at the packaging:
Camper Van Ceiling Plank Installation
Since these planks are 4 inches wide, the chance of you lucking out and getting them to fit perfectly across your ceiling is very slim. You will more than likely have to split one or trim one of the sides to make it fit. We pulled out our trusty measuring tape and checked the width of the van from where the ceiling meets the wall on the driver’s side along the ceiling to where the ceiling meets the wall on the passenger side. I don’t recall this measurement, but it definitely wasn’t divisible by 4, so we would have to do some trimming.
Since we knew we would need to be some trimming, we thought it would be best to start at the Fantastic Fan so we could control how much of the plank would surround the fan. If we started at a wall, we really couldn’t control that as well and might end up with a 1/2 inch piece around the fan which wouldn’t be very strong.
The planks were 8 ft long and my Astro van happened to be just short of 8 ft long in the cargo area, so we knew we could fit the boards in the van with just a bit of trimming. The van isn’t a square box. As a matter of fact, there are many curves within the interior of the van. With each plank we took a measurement on both the front cargo area and the back, then moved over to the Circular Saw for a quick cut.
We attached the planks to the ceiling ribs with short sheet metal screws. As you may have noticed from the picture above, the van’s ribs were covered with Flex Fix Tape. True, but the metal was easy to find with a quick tap. We used 3 screws per board, one at the front of the cargo area, one attached to the center beam and the third screwed into the back beam. We first pre-drilled the holes with our power drill and hand tightened the screws to avoid damaging the wood.
For more support, we cut 3 X 3 inch squares of the Roberts Carpet Tape with our scissors and attached the tape to the mid points of long runs without a screws. Once again, this tape has done well.
After the first board was attached, we had a “groove” to attach a “tongue” to. The boards go in one way, so there is no way to mess it up. Just attach one board to the next, and on and on. Now that we had the hang of it, we started to just fly through this process. Like I said, this was fun. 🙂
Before we knew it, we had half the ceiling done and we were ready to tackle the second half. The final board, as the ceiling met the wall, was the trickiest. We cut part of the board away to get it to a close fit, but it took some sanding as well to achieve our desired fit which was as close to perfect as possible. That’s just our way. Take a look at the picture below to see what I mean:
Once you’ve made it this far, it’s just a matter of finishing the job. Tongue and groove is really pretty easy and I recommend it. Below is what it looked like after a little more work:
For the final board on my van, we couldn’t just slide it in like the other 8 ft planks. We had to cut the board in two pieces to get it to fit because the sliding door rail was in the way. No worries, it still looks great, even with one board cut down to fit.
Also, notice the wiring hanging down in the above picture? Well, we pre-wired the van during the insulation phase and drilled small holes to allow the wiring to hang down for future lighting. Gotta plan ahead. 🙂
Camper Van Wall Plank Installation
The Plank installation to the walls went pretty much the same way: Measure length, cut the board, line the boards up, pre-drill the holes, add the Roberts tape and hand tighten the screws. Simple stuff. Notice in the picture below how our planks are attached to the custom support board on the right, the custom support board on the left and the van’s center beam. It’s all lined up even:
We stopped at this point below with the wall planks because we have plans to put a sofa/bed along the wall and we weren’t sure of the height of the bed yet. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of how we installed the ceiling and wall planks in my Astro van.
Next up: Sofa Bed Build