Van Conversion #10 – Wood paneling, windows and skylights

Pé na estrada! (5)

In this article we’ll cover the part of the wood cladding in our transformation of the van, the cabin split with the front, the windows and the skylights.

wood paneling

Whenever we imagine our van, we imagine it lined wood, makes the site more welcoming and with the varnish to highlight the wood and its ” knots ” gives a very natural end result. We could have put up panels of wood, but we did not like the final look so much.

The biggest difficulty we had was undoubtedly caused by the curvatures of the van, which make it very difficult to keep the straight lines. In order to have a bigger area possible in the van we made the lining so that sometimes the forms of the van.

If for example we had simply put vertical and horizontal slats attached to the most outgoing pillars of the structure had been much easier, especially to have the right things, but we would sacrifice important space when we want the a wide place.

The first part we made of the coating was a part of the bed, to gain some space in width we put the coating closer to the sheet.

For this we used plates of rock wool that are thinner than the XPS and we were able to gain 5 centimeters from each side, which at the end gives 10 centimeters, which makes the difference.

There are people who put on the whole van at once, and then they move on to the structure of the interior, instead we decided to do it little by little and it turned out well.

If we had transformed, for example, a van with an isothermal (refrigerated) box, we had applied the whole wood cladding right away, but since the van has such protrusions, we ended up doing it this way and it went well.

After the sides we were advancing to the ceiling. We chose to fasten the wood with fine screws, instead of the clips themselves, because these clips are fastened with nails that with the vibration would tend to leave.

The wood all fit together, but obviously it is not possible to follow a continuous way, first because it does not give the correct fulfillment and because in the passage from the ceiling to the side it is not possible to fit them, being necessary to hold them of the best possible.

What we did was fit the wood slat in the wood slat that comes from the side and screw it to the ceiling.

When you put the wainscoting it is important to try to put them together and put them right because you just have to be a bit bent that will influence the others all and give a “cambered” effect to the final result.

The area of ​​the skylight was a little more complicated because our van did not have many bars on the roof, which meant that we did not have many places where to screw the wood slats, in the end we ended up using the skylight itself to fasten the lamps on one side of the sides and everything went well.

As the time pass they are gaining the form of the ceiling and nowadays we can remove the skylight that the wood do not move.

To screw the wood to the metal structure we had to first screw a wooden lath to be easier at the time of putting the screw.

The lights we put at the same time as we were putting the wood celling. Then what we had to do was add a bit of wire for them to reach the site of the electrical system.

We were repeating the process until we had the whole van coated, including the doors.

The most complicated part of the wood coating was the window areas, because first they are round in the corners and then are stuck in the van, which makes it necessary to make a kind of height in wood because the wood does not rest on the van structure , sits a few inches inward.

What we did first was to cut a plywood with the shape of the window so as not to see any plate and give a contour in wood.

This part was not very easy, because to make the contour of the window with it already put in, in a bit of woot, is complicated. So it took a few tries but in the end we did it well.

Then, to fix this piece of wood, we first used to glue everything, to be fixed to the plate, and then, in order to stay really fixed, we made a kind of contour with wood (also to reach the height of the wood lateral), which we bolted to this plate and the structure of the van.

At the end we applied the varnish. We were a bit hesitant and ended up buying some to try, from satiny, shiny, with color … until we chose to wear a high gloss shiny.

This part ends up being at the e taste of each one obviously, however one thing is certain, darker varnishes will “shrink” the space, and it is advisable that the varnish is a varnish resistant to humidity, antifungal and resistant to UV rays.

Although the varnish we used is ” colorless ” gave a bright and golden tone to the wood, making the knots stand out and highlight the wood effect. We really liked the end result.




The windows and the skylights were the first things we did, because we needed them to move the rest of the van. The windows for motor homes can be open to the side like ours, utward or finally fixed.

The best windows in our opinion are those that open outwards (projectable), because they offer the possibility of having the whole area of ​​the window free, while the others can only open half and because they usually come with blinds and curtains for insects. The big disadvantage of this type of windows is the price, as they are much more expensive than the ones we bought (open to the side).

If we had opted for this kind of windows we had spent more than 1000 €, unlike the 400 € we spent.

These windows have some good points, as we can leave them open during the trip and we can open them anywhere. If we want to be discreet is an advantage.

At the end we made 3 windows, one in the bed area, one near the table and one in the kitchen. In our opinion theses are 3 ” key sites ” to have windows in a motorhome. In general they serve mainly for the circulation of air and for the entrance of light. In the end we ended up getting the luminosity we wanted.

It is important to note that the more windows, the more heat losses and more chances of someone enter, besides making a window in a freight wagon is a change in the structure, which legally required a legalization. For us, a van without windows was simply not an option.


When we started the transformation we did not have any experience to handle the tools and because the windows / skylights are something definite and that poorly done can cause problems with infiltrations in the future, we decided to do them in a professional. The value of the more fitting windows turned out to be very good compared to just the prices of the windows sold itself.

We made the windows and the skylights in the CampersLife Gaspar

transformar carrinha

In the next transformation we are going to make the windows and skylights, you just need to measure the site accurately and cut with a firm hand using a eletric saw. It is important to choose the location of the windows well and not go over the sides of the van.

The process of placing the skylights is similar to that of the windows, that is, to measure twice and cut one. Use a eletric saw and put silicone glue and seal.

We have two skylights, one in the kitchen area and another in the bathroom. In the bathroom the fact that we had a skylight made us not have to put a window and an extractor, because with the skylight the humidity of the baths has where to go out and the light has where to enter.

See here how we did the bathroom.

Lastly, there are several types of skylights, with various sizes. The best in our opinion are the ones that have a fan because they make an exhaust fan which should be very good when cooking in the van and when it is very hot, the problem is that they cost at least 200 €, the intermediates are those that have blinds and network musket, and finally there are the ones we bought that are the simplest and that the mosquito net does not move.

Division of the cabin with the cell

This article will be updated in early 2019 as soon as we split the cabin.

price of the materials

  • Pack Lambrim x 12 = 140 €
  • Plywood 1220×60 x 3 = 28 €
  • Window 800×450 x 2 = 310 €
  • Window 600×300= 150 €
  • Skylights 400×400 x 2 = 150 €
  • Screws = € 5
  • Mixed wood = 30 €
  • Silicone / glue = € 20

Total = € 683

Other articles about this conversion

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