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If youíre looking to combine your love of the open road with your zeal for camping, converting a van into a camping vehicle may be the thing for you. Camping in a van combines many of the creature comforts of indoor living with the relaxation and enjoyment that comes from being out in the wilderness. Even if you donít have any prior experience with carpentry or construction, the process of converting your ordinary van into a campervan is straightforward enough that anybody can do it.
EditSteps

EditRenovating the Interior

  1. Clean out your vanís interior to make room for your installations. If you buy your van used, thereís a good chance you will have to remove some items from the interior before you can start the conversion process. Remove any unwanted pre-existing fixtures and clean the floor to your comfort level.[1]

    • Unscrew and remove any passenger seats or other pre-existing fixtures located in the back of the van that you donít intend to use.
    • Use a broom and vacuum cleaner to clean dirt and debris off the floor of the van.
    • If there is carpeting installed in the back of van, clean it with a vacuum cleaner and carpet cleaner, or considering removing the carpet entirely.[2]

  2. Insulate the floor, walls, and ceiling for protection in cold weather. If you intend to do any camping in cold environments or during the winter, consider installing insulation to keep the interior of the van comfortable. Use your measurements of the vanís interior to cut pieces of insulating material that will fit over the floor, walls, and ceiling of the van.

    • There are many different types of insulation material you can use, including rigid foam, Styrofoam, rock wool, and natural sheep wool.[3]
    • Although different insulation materials come with different installation instructions, a lot of these instructions call for placing roughly of insulation material on the walls and floors, and roughly to of material on the ceiling.[4]
    • Use spray foam on any remaining cracks or gaps in the installation.[5]

  3. Install a wooden floor to build the rest of your installations on. You will need to install a wooden subfloor and top floor for the van to enable you to install the bed platform, kitchen, and any other installations you intend to add.[6]

    • The subfloor can be composed of either plywood or batten, though batten is recommended. Cut your pieces of plywood or batten so that they will fit your vanís interior, then securely screw this subfloor into the floor of the van to act as a fixing point for the rest of your flooring.[7]
    • Once the subfloor is installed, repeat this process to cut and install your top floor, making sure it is securely screwed into the subfloor below.
    • Commonly recommended types of wood to use for the top floor include laminate, sheet vinyl, and timber.[8]

EditAdding the Essential Installations

  1. Build and install a platform for your bed. Use plywood and lumber to construct a platform for your bed to go on. Consider installing a platform that not only supports your mattress, but also includes storage space underneath.[9]

    • Measure and cut a piece of plywood for the base of the platform, taking into account any curves found on the sides of your vanís walls.[10]
    • If youíd like to build extra storage space into your platform, cut a piece of 2x6 lumber into 9 pieces roughly high, and screw them into the base plywood in a 3 by 3 formation. These will act as pillars to support your top platform while also providing extra storage.[11]
    • Measure and cut a piece of plywood equal to the size of your bottom platform, and screw it into the pillars to act as your top platform.
    • Consider assembling your bed platform entirely inside the van; if you construct the platform outside the van and itís too big, it wonít fit and youíll have to make adjustments.[12]

  2. Build and install your kitchen counter. You probably wonít be able to access an open fire all the time while camping. Having a dedicated kitchen space with room for a sink, a cutting board, and a portable stove will give you much more flexibility when it comes to cooking.

    • Cut a piece of plywood that will serve as your countertop, making sure it is big enough to include your sink, water container, and whatever else you deem necessary, but also small enough to fit in the van.[13]
    • Cut a square hole in the plywood that is just slightly smaller than your portable sink, so that your sink fits snugly inside the hole in your countertop.
    • Use 2x4 lumber to build a frame for your counter, making sure to stick closely to the measurements you took of the interior van at the outset of the project. Cut your 2x4 into 8 shapes: 4 pieces you will screw together into a rectangle to support the countertop, and 4 pieces that will act as legs to support the entire counter.
    • Screw the plywood countertop into the lumber frame, then screw the entire kitchen counter into the wall of your van so that it doesnít tip over while youíre driving.[14]

  3. Add a portable toilet and shower to the van. If youíre uncomfortable with going to the bathroom in the woods or going days without showering, youíll definitely need to invest in a portable toilet and portable shower to maintain a comfortable level of hygiene. Store these in the storage space under your bed to keep them out of sight.[15]

    • Portable toilets and showers can be found relatively inexpensively in hardware stores and on the internet. You can also install more permanent toilets and water systems, though they will cost more and require more space.[16]
    • Make sure you line the inside of your toilet with a garbage bag and empty it out regularly.[17]
    • Odors can be controlled with deodorizing chemical cleaning products. Make sure to purchase these when you purchase your portable toilet.

EditStocking the Interior

  1. Make sure you keep an energy source in your camping van. You will most likely have items with you while camping that will need to be charged or recharged at some point. Consider packing a power converter, external battery, or portable charger before beginning your camping trip.[18]

    • If cost is no concern, you can also install solar panels to the roof and run the wiring into the inside of your van for a more consistent energy source.[19]

  2. Pack flashlights or solar lanterns to have light at night. Make sure you bring a source of light for when youíre parked in the wilderness at light. Instead of using your phone or an open-flamed candle, pack battery-powered flashlights or solar lanterns for safe and energy efficient illumination.[20]
  3. Stock your kitchen with cookware and cutlery. Your kitchen wonít be nearly as useful if you forget to bring tools to cook and eat with! Make sure your kitchen area is stocked with reusable pots, pans, plates, and utensils, and that you bring a sponge and dish soap to wash them with.[21]

    • Consider placing a cooler underneath the kitchen counter to act as a refrigerator. Youíll need this for storing any perishable food items you intend to cook.

EditTips

  • Make ample use of vertical space when stocking the interior, as storage space on the inside of your van will be in short supply at the end of the fitting out process.

EditWarnings

  • If you intend to go camping anywhere hot and humid, make sure you bring bug spray, or consider installing a bug net in your camping van.
  • If you intend to go camping in cold climates and opt not to install insulation in your van, be sure to bring a portable heater and thick blankets to keep warm.

EditThings Youíll Need

  • Plywood
  • 2x4 lumber
  • 2x6 lumber
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • Screws
  • Wood for flooring

EditSources and Citations

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