Cork Floors and Wooden Ceiling in a Van Build

Cork Floors and Wooden Ceiling in a Van Build

My parents helping me work

With the walls up, my van was almost starting to feel like a living space. The ceiling and floor was all that was left to hide the industrial cargo shell.

Wood Ceiling

  • Time: 1 day
  • Cost: Under $100

At this stage of the project, I was still in San Diego with my parents working on the “frame” of the van. I wasn’t sure how to approach the ceiling, but my mom suggested using shiplap. I was able to find some nice dark wood at the local Home Depot for under $100 in total.

The shiplap was tongue-in-groove, so it was easy to “seal” the pieces together. The hard part was getting a bolt into the metal struts in the roof. Though we thought we had a good idea of where the van’s metal beams were, I wish we had taken exact measurements — down to the location of mounting holes.

In the end, I used the jack that came with the van and a 2×2″ piece of lumber to compress the shiplap against the ceiling. I measured the locations of the cross-beams as best as I could, but missed with about 1/3 of my bolts. This is just one of the many elements of… character left in my van.

As all of this came together, my parents helped me still further. My father is/was an electrical engineer, so he ran the wiring for the fan and lights underneath my ceiling. My mother again had the excellent idea of using copper Con-Tact paper to turn the industrial white metal to copper.

Cork Floors

  • Time: 1 day
  • Cost: $380

I had long been convinced that cork floors were the way to go. They are thin (about 1/8″), soft to walk on, slightly insulating, easy to clean, and look good. I settled upon the HydroCork “hardwood pine” look. It took five boxes to cover the floor, which I floated atop the simple insulated plywood.

Overtop the kick-plate, I layered patinaed copper. It’s a very thin, paper-like “aged” (printed) copper. I like that it is more durable than the Con-Tac paper and thus is appropriate to being kicked. I ultimately think I would have preferred a normal copper look instead of the aged look, since it looks a bit out-of-place with the rest of the wood/copper aesthetic at the moment. Maybe I can salvage this, design-wise, later by adding more to reinforce the theme.

… Aaaaanyways. Finally, I bolted down some similarly-colored T-molding from the hardware store to “seal” the edges of the floor.

Related: Building a Wood Cabin Steampunk Van

There are many, many websites showing off #vanlife vans. We run into travelers every day with beautiful, albeit "standard" vans. Some look super polished, with crisp white lines. There are several professional after-market companies that create "perfect" vanlife vans...

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This was one of the most memorable steps in the build. It suddenly felt like the van was something to be furnished (like a house), not a daunting metal box which made me question my sanity.

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Written by
(zane) / Technically Wizardry
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