Van Build: Cork Floors and Wooden Ceiling

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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.

Conclusion

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.

About the author

zane

I make things, often with technology. The van plan has been my cornerstone project since late 2017.

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