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Author Topic: attaching wood strips to screw in cladding is going to be tricky, see photos  (Read 3961 times)


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How am I going to attach wood strips/dowels/1x2 studs to screw in cladding for a nice finished interior?

I have spent a few days looking around at blogs/pinterest/forums to see how others have screwed in their cladding but my van seems to be a challenge...

« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 10:37:55 PM by Behemoth_haftaa »
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Depends how much space you want to save but I ran some battons from the sills and screwed into metal using self drilling roofing screws.

Its the verticle pieces in the pic below. Leaves you with a nice flat wall once clad.

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Oh and to the door.

Just pilot drill and wood screw the cladding to the door without any battons behind.

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The following advice is just my humble opinion, but I believe I learned from the best of the best, and I've helped many people with their builds at rallies, and never heard any complaints, so you can consider it for what it's worth.

I was taught that you never ever want to screw anything into the metal of a van, and you never do anything to obstruct the holes in any of the ribbing because they are there to prevent moisture build up inside the ribbing.  You attach your furring strips, or framing to the ribs using something like "Liquid Nails" adhesive, again being careful not to obstruct any of the holes. 

Now we should discuss condensation.  Condensation is going to happen on the inside skin of the vehicle, and the inside of the ribs welded to the skin of the vehicle.  You can't prevent this, so don't even try.  Vehicles are designed to vent this condensation to the interior to be evaporated out, and we need to preserve this process to prevent future moisture, mold and rust problems.

Panel vans are inherently noisy to drive, unlike their passenger van cousins.  The large metal spans will "ring" while driving.  The best solution I have found for this, is the foam type carpet padding.  Using spray adhesive, this can be attached to all of the inside skin surfaces, and it is very easy to work with.  It is moisture permeable, so you won't be trapping moisture on the inside vehicle skin, but instead it will wick it away.  This carpet padding is designed to let moisture evaporate out through the carpet.  I use this on everything, floor, ceiling, walls, doors, and wheel wells.  This works well as both insulation and sound deadening.

Next comes the highly debatable question of whether or not you want more insulation.  There are several different camps on this.  Some people swear by insulation, some people swear at insulation, some people are looking for a payday, and then there are the old timers that will advise in favor of passenger vans only, and simply remove the seats and move your new interior in.  The latter is the camp that I am officially in, but I have helped build out many panel vans too.

People looking for a payday are naturally going to recommend insulation.  I discount these people immediately because their advice is tainted. (This includes 99% of everything you're going to find on the internet, because they're either looking to make money, or they're repeating what they heard, which was still by somebody trying to make money.  The people trying to make money don't give a rip about you, your health, your comfort, or the long term health of your van.)

Since you have a panel van, let's leave out the advice of the old timers, and those looking for a payday, and just concentrate on the pro's and con's of insulation, and the people making the various recommendations.  I find the pro insulation side the most interesting, even though they are also the most contradictory.  First they will tell you how good insulation is,  and how you really need it, then they tell you to follow the good weather.  Well, if you're following the good weather, it seems to me that you would be the least likely to need insulation...  hmmm....  The pro insulation camp seems to be made up mostly of newbies and those looking for a payday.

The anti insulation camp seems to be mostly old timers with many years of experience, and those who routinely endure either very hot or very cold extremes.  They tell you that you need good heating and/or cooling power, not insulation.  From experience, I can tell you that no matter how much insulation you have, you still need lots of heating & cooling power.  Insulation might slightly slow the inevitable, but it won't prevent it.  Any vehicle, insulated or not, is extremely easy to both heat and cool, and does an extra 15 minutes one way or the other really make that much of a difference in the long run?  I can tell you that a heavily insulated vehicle will take longer to heat or cool.

What type of insulation is best?  If you ask ten different people, you're likely to get 10 different answers...  Let's look at proper principles, and see if that can help us decide.  Anything attached to the outside skin must be breathable and wick the moisture inwards.  If we are going to use moisture proof insulation, then a sufficient ventilated air gap must be maintained on the outside of the insulation.  If the insulation is breathable, then that air gap can be eliminated.  In either case, the space between the interior and exterior walls must be ventilated to avoid moisture build up.  To accomplish this, I leave a 1/4 inch gap top and bottom of all interior panels, using screen to prevent bugs or rodents from entering that enclosed space.  With a little finesse these gaps can be virtually invisible.

I choose to use 4" of open cell foam for the insulation and to fill the gap.  It's easy to work with, squeak proof, and it will continue to wick the moisture away from the outside skin, but with the ventilation will easily stay dry rather than accommodate moisture build up.

Now for the interior walls, we have already attached either furring strips or framework with adhesive, we can screw our interior paneling into that.  You can use thin wood, plastic, or fiberglass panels.  The thin stuff helps with minor curves or imperfections.  For rounded corners, I just leave the outside cavity, and build either a square wall around it on the interior, or put a flat piece across, angled between the outside walls, like the corners of an octagon.  Either way works nicely, and is a whole lot easier than trying to contour your walls to the curves.

I leave my doors hollow, and just glue the carpet padding to the outside skin, then make a pretty matching interior panels, cutting a hole in it, so the inside of the doors  becomes additional storage space.  If it's a swing open door, I add either a fold up or fold down table which also acts as a cupboard door.

The floor and wheel wells are the most serious source of road noise.  Passenger vans typically have a thick wool felt type mat that goes on the floor.  It wicks the moisture away from the metal, and the bottom molds itself to conform to the ribs in the floor, while the top remains flat, and the carpeting is put over that, so any moisture can be evaporated out.  It's a great system that works well, so I suggest going  to a wrecking yard and scavenging one of those mats out of a passenger van.  I paid $5.00 for one last summer.  I have also seen this type of material occasionally available at building supply stores as carpet underlayment.  Do double foam carpet padding over the wheel wells, then lay your carpet.  I'm opposed to hardwood or vinyl floors because they can trap that moisture beneath them, which can lead to rust and mold.  I put throw rugs over my carpet so they can be easily be removed and cleaned. This will keep your metal floor dry, healthy, and very well insulated. (Note: If using the under carpet wool felt on the floor, it may take several layers to compensate for the thickness of the floor ribs and have a flat surface on the top.)

That leaves us with the ceiling...  I use a double layer of the foam carpet padding against the skin, then fill out to the edge of the ribs with open cell foam.  The last one I did, I used mattress toppers to obtain this 1" thick foam.  I then use pegboard covered with a vellux type fabric for the interior headliner.  The pegboard and covering are thin, flexible, and allow the needed ventilation to avoid moisture build up.  The pegboard can just be tucked in on the sides, and pushed upwards and will hold itself against the ceiling without any fasteners needed.  I then use H track paneling connectors between the pieces for a beautiful trimmed finish appearance.

Here's some examples of the materials I use:

Hope this helps...
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