Van Build | Flooring

Flooring will most likely be the easiest job you’re going to do and a great chance to make your van look awesome.

There are several materials that can be used to line the floor of your van. hardwood, laminate, sheet vinyl, or carpet to name a few. But one thing that all of these materials have in common is they require a subfloor.

A subfloor is essentially a sheet of wood providing a stable and level base to secure the floor lining. In most cases, plywood is the material of choice. 10mm Ply is more than enough for the job as the thicker you go, the heavier and more costly it will be. Not to mention, the more headroom you will sacrifice.


Yes we know, Hardwood floor is just gorgeous. But is it really a good choice for a van? Heavy, thick, not waterproof, requires maintenance, and it’s expensive. For these reasons I think not, however, if looks are your only concern, by all means, take this option.


The best way we can describe Laminate is hardwood’s ugly cousin. Only joking, this is a great option for the floor of your Van. You get the (cheap) look of hardwood without the bulky nature. Laminate is more durable, lighter, cheaper, and easier to maintain. The only downside we can see is it’s still not fully waterproof. Nevertheless, a great option if your subfloor is sealed and you’re not worried about beer leaking through the joints of the laminate boards. 

Sheet Vinyl

Not the prettiest pick of the bunch but it’s the thinnest, lightest, and cheapest option available. It is also the only fully waterproof option we will mention here. Providing all the benefits of laminate flooring and did we mention it’s fully waterproof?!

Definitely a top contender and don’t worry too much about the looks, maybe the floor of your van shouldn’t be the feature after all!


Last but not least, carpet. Ok, maybe least… do you really want carpet? Yes, it’s easy to install, but ugly – oh so ugly! It stains easily, collects dust like no tomorrow, and what happens when you spill something on it? Take soy sauce for example. Face the facts, you’re not going to have an armory of cleaning agents at your disposal, because no one thinks of the worst-case scenario until it’s too late. So when the smell sets in, it will be like living in the kitchen of an Asian restaurant. This may be appealing for some but the novelty will get old quickly.

Conclusion about carpet… just don’t do it to yourself!

Can you guess what we chose yet?

Our Design

Now the facts are out of the way, time to show you how we did it.

With help from a good mate who knows how to handle his wood… if you know what I mean! We began with 15mm plywood for the subfloor. In hindsight this was overkill, you would be fine with 10mm. Rather than cutting the piece out as a whole, we opted to make the subfloor into three smaller segments for easy installment. Each segment was secured with liquid nails and screwed into battens on the floor.

Half of the plywood installed on floor of van

Mandatory coffee break!

Measuring wood while having coffee

After completing the installation of your subfloor, we’d suggest putting the rest on hold until as late as possible. Thus, protecting your finished product from damage.


You guessed it, we chose to go with sheet vinyl after comparing it with laminate. The choice came down to three reasons: Cost, waterproof­, and thickness. As was mentioned earlier, both are great options but we just couldn’t pass on the vinyl.

We actually thought it would be painful to install, but to our surprise, the process couldn’t have been easier:

  1. Measure

Draw a rough sketch of your van’s floor plan. After that, measure each side with a tape measure as accurately as possible. Remember, a matter of millimeters can ruin your work entirely, so double check on every account. Finally, note the dimensions onto your sketch and use it as a reference.

  1. Mark and cut

Time to roll out the Vinyl and mark the dimensions. Similarly to measuring, use a tape measure, level, and a pencil for the most accurate result. It never hurts to add some margin for error. Once you have the mark out complete, use a good pair of scissors and cut out the rough shape.

  1. Layout and trim

Lay the sheet vinyl cutout on the floor of your van and check the fit (depending on how accurate your first cut was, you may need to repeat step 2). Once you’re happy, carefully trim the edges with a Stanley knife to remove any excess vinyl. Use caution, the last thing you need is to overcut and have to start again.

  1. Install vinyl

Roll the vinyl sheet back up and start from the rear of the van. Slowly roll the vinyl out over the van floor and use Sikabond Sprayfix to glue as you go. A rolling pin can be a handy tool in this situation, allowing you to apply maximum pressure and push any air bubbles out. Once complete, have a quick check for more bubbles and roll again if needed.

Edge Trims

Here’s where life became hard for us. Mainly due to the fact that we did not have the correct tools. Now we know good tradesmen don’t blame their tools, however, we believe this is an exception. Try cutting 3mm thick aluminum with a prehistoric mitre saw for cutting wood… not easy. Still completely our fault for not being prepared and with the correct mitre saw, it would have been a very simple task!

Making matters worse, after almost completing every edge we found a pair of tin snips that were capable enough to cut the aluminum. Actually more than capable and with a bit of filing the trims turned out with a nice finish.

Back to the process. First, measure the edges, making sure you add the width of the 45-degree angle on the corners that turn out from one another. This isn’t necessary for the edges that turn in. Picture for example:

Edge trims

You could just cut them off square, but this will look quite amateur. And after all you’re effort, you don’t need one small detail ruining the finished product. Once the edge trims are cut, mark and drill holes where you want the trims to be screwed into the floor (this will look best if evenly spaced). Countersink the holes so the heads of the screws sit flush. Finally, apply silicone as a waterproofing agent and screw them into the van floor.

We are both extremely happy with the end result. We were pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy the installation was, especially cutting and trimming the vinyl. It has exceeded our expectations in durability and an added bonus, it’s super simple to clean.

Is a day accomplished if you don’t learn anything? The lesson here is to use the correct tools! Even though we managed to get a nice finish on the edge trims, that job was bigger than Ben Hur.

In total, this took roughly 2 days including buying the materials. Although the vinyl wasn’t completed until later in the build.

Equipment used:

  • 15mm Plywood
  • 3mm Sheet Vinyl
  • 20 x 20mm aluminium angle
  • Liquid nails
  • Sikabond Sprayfix
  • Natural cure Silicone sealant

Tools used:

  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tin snips
  • Disgustingly misused Mitre Saw
  • Drill
  • Countersunk drill bit

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