Camper Van Conversion Guide
An Actionable, Step-By-Step Van Conversion Guide For DIY Beginners
Download our FREE PDF to help build your van's electrical system; from batteries, to solar, to inverter, and more. 38+ pages of detailed diagrams, product recommendations, and links to additional resources.
CHOOSING A VEHICLE
Choosing the right vehicle is vital for a successful van life journey. While any vehicle can technically be converted into a livable space, each type of vehicle has it’s pros and cons. It is up to you to decide which vehicle provides the best features and benefits for your unique camper van experience. Read some of vehicle-related posts below for more information.
LAYOUT & FLOOR PLAN
Planning the layout and floor plan for a camper van conversion is an exciting and fun experience. You will have to combine creativity and practicality to ensure that every inch of space is efficiently utilized. It’s helpful to list your must-have features and amenities so that you can work these priorities into your plan. Check out our layout posts below for more information.
Designing a camper van interior is where the magic happens that transforms a van into an aesthetic & cozy tiny home on wheels. We believe in designing a camper interior that is beautiful, comfortable, and is a space where you can go to relax and recharge after a full day of being outdoors. Read our van design posts below for more information.
VENTILATION, INSULATION, & HEAT
The first steps of the van conversion process typically involve installing vent fans, windows, and insulation. In this section, we talk about climate control and how you can keep your camper van cool during hot days and warm during the winter months. For more information, check out our posts below.
WALLS, CEILING, & FLOOR
Constructing the inner shell of the camper van is a critical part of the conversion process and has an outsized affect on the look and feel of your van’s interior. In this section, we show you how we installed our walls, ceiling, and floors in our camper van and give installation tips and product recommendations.
1. Vinyl Floor Installation
A properly installed camper van floor involves three main layers:
- Insulation base layer – Combination of duct insulation and XPS foam board.
- Sub-floor mid layer – Mold treated plywood
- Vinyl-plank top layer – For that high-quality finish, home-style feel.
For more van flooring information, we put together a 7-step guide that will help you install that perfect floor in your camper. We even add a bonus section for recommended area rugs and welcome mats.
2. Add Furring Strips
Although you could just screw the ceiling and wall boards to the van’s metal frame, we don’t recommend it. Screws inside thin sheet metal have low pull-out resistance and don’t hold up well over time against constant vibration. We also don’t like making new holes in the van, if we can help it.
Follow our furring strip guide to learn how to dramatically improve the pull-out strength of your walls and ceiling boards while not drilling a single new hole in your van. Sounds to good to be true? It really isn’t!
3. Install Plywood Walls
Up next is installing the interior walls in the van. The two most popular materials for camper walls are:
- Plywood sheets
- Cladding boards
One material isn’t necessarily better than the other and ultimately depends on your chosen interior design aesthetic. For our camper van, we preferred the sleek, continuous feel of painted plywood. But the choice is ultimately up to you.
In the two below articles, we provide a step-by-step guide to install plywood walls (on the furring strips) in your van and discuss why we think painting your walls white is the most ideal.
4. Install Cedar Board Ceiling
The last step in this chapter is to install the ceiling boards. If your local lumberyard has it, we recommend using cedar boards because they look great, smell great, and are relatively lightweight. And if you pick the right stain, you can achieve a beautiful, vibrant color from cedar wood.
In the ceiling guide below, we show you our process for selecting, staining, and installing cedar boards for our van’s ceiling.
THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
We are passionate about teaching electrical for camper van conversions. In this section we write about how to provide power to all your electrical devices (e.g. lights, fan, laptops). We help you to size your batteries (with a nifty calculator), select the best wire sizes, and choose all the parts & components you will need to complete your own electrical system. Be sure to download our free electrical eBook to help you. Read our posts below to learn more.
SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM
We recommend installing solar panels for most camper vans. These panels passively charge the leisure batteries and allow you to stay out in nature and wild camp for longer periods of time. In this section, we help you calculate your ideal solar wattage size, solar wire size, and teach you exactly what you need to wire the panels to the batteries to get you charging as quickly as possible. Be sure to download our free solar wiring eBook. Read our posts below to learn more.
The vehicle wouldn’t be a proper camper van without interior furniture. In this section, we teach you how to build a bed, kitchen counters, overhead cabinets, and more. We provide step-by-step instruction, installation tips, and product recommendations to help you build stunning interior furniture that is comfortable and inviting. Read our posts below to learn more.
WATER SYSTEM & PLUMBING
Having access to clean water is crucial for van life and allows you to stay hydrated, prepare meals, wash up, and even shower in your camper van. There are lots of different methods to building a water system solution in a van and, in our posts, we teach you how to select and build a plumbing system that best suits your needs. Be sure to download our free plumbing eBook. Check out our posts below to learn more.