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How to Panel a Van Interior

How to Panel a Van Interior
February 27, 2020 TheHoth
how to panel a van interior

How to Panel a Van Interior

High-quality van interiors can go great lengths in ensuring the professionalism, safety, efficiency and durability of a van or fleet of vans. Selecting the best interior panels for your van and installing them properly is an important, complicated and time-consuming project that requires careful planning and preparation. This article provides an overview to help set you up for success.


How to Panel a Van Interior: Planning & Prep

First of all, when asking how to panel a van interior, you should consider the difficulty of your interior paneling project and whether you have the skill and expertise required. To give you an idea of what you’re getting into, this online guide rates interior walls and paneling as one of the most challenging aspects of a DIY van build, with a five out of five difficulty rating. Carefully consider what type of material you want for the interior of your van, as some material (such as wood paneling) is much easier to install on your own than other types.

If you are determined to undertake the project on your own, set ample time aside. According to some online guides, tackling the interior walls of a van on your own may take up to 14 days of work for preparation and installation. Keep in mind that for some parts of the project, you may need two people on the job.

Next, gather all the tools and supplies you’ll need for the interior paneling project. Depending on the type of paneling you go with, you may need the following materials: wood paneling, assorted screws, wood filler, bondo, sheet metal, rivets, wood glue, cardboard, red rosin paper, cardboard drywall shims, painters tape, trim molding, insulation materials, paint and more. You may also need the following tools or equipment: Circular saw, jigsaw, table saw, foam brush, plastic paint tray, orbital sander, power drill, assorted driving bits, assorted drill bits, angle grinder, metal cut off wheel, counter bits, tape measure, large framing square, level, putty knife, sandpaper, protective eyewear, angled bar straight edge, rivet pop gun, and more. Make sure you know how to safely operate these tools so that you do not put yourself at risk.

With all of this in mind, once again consider whether you are prepared and equipped to take on this project on your own or if you require the help of a professional van customization company. More on this in the sections below.


How to Panel a Van Interior: Installing the Panels

If you are sure that you have all the time, tools, knowledge and safety skills you need, below is a basic outline of the steps to prepare and install wood interior panels:

  1. Create and use templates to cut all your wood panels. The paneling needs to be tailored to the exact size and shape of your van.
  2. Secure the walls.
  3. Cut and attach additional wall coverings. Every surface of the van not covered in wood will need a custom piece for it and measurements must be exact.
  4. Fill in any gaps by applying bondo or something similar.
  5. Cut and rivet sheet metal to cover any pop-out windows.
  6. Build wheel well covers.
  7. Panel the ceiling.
  8. Complete the finishing touches such as painting, adding trim, adding lighting, etc.

Other things to consider: 

  • Do you need to add any ventilation? Installing ceiling vents or fans is another complicated process that should ideally be completed before insulating the walls of your van.
  • Do you need to add insulation or special lining?
  • Make sure you leave room for electrical sockets and lighting. You should complete all your electrical wiring work before installing interior paneling.

It’s important to note that this process is a simplified, high-level overview of how to install interior panels. You should take time to learn each step of the process carefully and consult more thorough instructions before starting this project.


Van Interior Panels: DIY or Professional Installation? 

For van interior outfitting, especially for commercial vans, we recommend working with a professional van customization company rather than attempting a complicated project like this on your own. When it comes to installing interior panels, professional installation will not only save your business time, but also produce more high-quality, professional results.

Why paying more for professional installation is worth the investment:

  • More durable and long-lasting panels
  • Better insulated paneling for temperature control
  • More sound-proof paneling to reduce noise and rattling on the road
  • Higher resale value for your vehicle
  • Clean and professional look that reflects well on your business
  • Consistent results across your fleet of vans
  • Completely customizable and suited to your specific needs
  • Safer (more able to contain fires and spills, prevent damage, etc.)


Need More Work Van Customizations?

If you’re looking for van parts or help with van customization, our experienced team at Pacific Truck Colors is here to help! Though for custom van paneling we suggest working with Legend Fleet Solutions.

For all other van related customization projects, request a free quote to get started!