Flooring and Insulation

Materials and Tools Used

  • Paper/Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Plywood
  • Jigsaw
  • Liquid Nails
  • Caulk Gun
  • Utility Knife
  • Vinyl Sheet
  • Vinyl Cutter
  • Vinyl Adhesive
  • Notched Trowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • Hammer

The next step was putting a new floor in. Before we did anything, we had to research. This should be the start to any van build, especially if you are as novice as we are. Forget the latest episode of Riverdale, Youtube videos titled ‘laying a floor in a van’ became our latest binge. 

We had an idea of what we wanted it to look like. We originally wanted wood floors. We quickly ruled that out, as we do not have the time or skills required to put in an extensive floor such as that. We were trying to build in the van in the winter - which greatly limited our time and comfort in the building process. 

Our next step was to see what flooring was available. We wanted to keep our budget down, knowing that this process can become quite expensive if not cautious. We went to Home Depot as it was convenient and reasonably priced. We went to 3 different Home Depots over the space of a week, asking every employee what they would suggest for flooring. Originally, we were intending on using a click and join laminate flooring panels (as seen here) straight over the top of the original foam floor. After watching this and talking to the Home Depot employees we learnt that we needed a fully flat flooring, unachievable with the foam underlay we already have. We needed a plywood subfloor. 

A van floor and shape is not flat, straight or in any way uniform. To put down a subfloor, it has to be as close to exact as it can. It is therefore necessary to trace the van floor with paper/cardboard, making sure to create a perfect outline of the vans walls, which was a time consuming endeavour. 

Once the outline was completed, we returned to Home Depot with measurements of the van floor to buy the plywood subfloor. We had decided on a 1/4 inch plywood, which could only be purchased in 2ft by 4ft pieces. The Home Depot employee then cut the 2 slabs of plywood into 8 pieces that can be easily assembled as our van subfloor. The next day we traced our paper subfloor onto the plywood and began to cut the wood, using a jigsaw, to fit the van. With every cut, we checked to see if it fit in its required place. Even with the outline, additional cuts had to be made to make the subfloor fit neatly. Once all the pieces had been cut, we began to glue to plywood to the foam insulation already in place. The plastic and foam insulation was already anchored to the metal van floor prior to purchase, which allowed us to secure the plywood to the foam without fear of movement. Prior to applying the subfloor, we returned to Home Depot to further inquire about what surface we wished to put down. After watching and reading masses of other van flooring installations, we had settled on laminate/vinyl flooring. We shied away from the click and lock laminate flooring as it requires perfectly flat flooring with no movement, something we are not able to achieve within the van. After watching a fantastic youtube instruction video by Morey’s In Transit, we had decided on applying a sheet of vinyl directly onto the plywood subfloor. We bought available offcuts, in excess of what we needed. We laid the vinyl on the ground, and placed the plywood subfloor on top and cut a rough outline of the floor into the vinyl, making the final cuts once it was glued in the van. It was now time to attach the plywood subfloor to the van. We used liquid nails to secure the plywood to the foam and within each piece of plywood. We allowed this to dry for 24 hours, before attempting to apply the vinyl over the top.

Once the plywood was dry, we laid the vinyl in the van. Using 2301 Premium and Luxury Vinyl Tile Glue Adhesive, we glued the vinyl to the subfloor. As the vinyl was applied, we used a rolling pin to reduce bubbles, ensuring a flat finish. While the vinyl was being applied, we were making final cuts so the vinyl was able to fit snuggly to wall, tyre trims and doors. We allowed the vinyl to dry for 24-48 hours, reducing foot traffic. Once dry, we tucked the edge of vinyl under the door trims and secured them in place.