We’ve had several people ask us “Why put cedar in there?” and our response is “why not?!” At the time of the build, we wanted the van to be functional, but also cozy and to feel like home. During the endless hours working on the van, we kept debating what to do with the walls and ceiling. Once we got the cedar idea, it seemed like a no-brainer to us – it’s light in color, really cozy, probably adds a bit of insulation and is easy to install.
Putting the cedar in was the final step in the build. We had already run the wires for the lights and put in all the cabinets. We didn’t want to lose much interior space from paneling – with our solution we lost at most ½” because we are using ¼” cedar panels (tongue and groove) attached to ¼” poplar strips. Everything required for this build was available at the local hardware store. Here’s Cedar at Lowes and another option at Home Depot – just check locally.
Before getting started on the cedar, we attached ¼” poplar to all the structural ribs of the van along the ceiling. We used 3 sheet metal screws on each that were countersunk to make them flush. On the side wall, the poplar strips are attached to the van structure where possible, and squeezed between the wall and the bedframe at the bottom. The poplar contours nicely along the rounded shape of the ceiling and side wall.
To attach the cedar panels, our solution were #6 ⅝” wood screws with finishing washers. We coated the panels with polyurethane and attached them carefully to the poplar strips. It’s easiest to start with the side wall from the bottom up, then the ceiling from the driver side to the passenger side. Since the ceiling extends longer than the 8′ panels, we alternated the 8′ panel between the front and the back with another shorter piece. This worked out pretty well for attachment points. To make the panels flush, we used silicon (tip from the guy at Lowes) at the end of each panel to keep them tightly together.
In the rear, we installed some L-shaped aluminum to act as a support for the cedar and make the panels even as well as provide a way to secure the ends of the panels. Here we also used silicon to keep the panels in place. In the front, the panels end at the headliner above the driver and passenger seats. We squeezed the panels in between the ceiling and the headliner to make them flush and secure the ends (we do not have photos of this but will be happy to answer any questions and will provide more photos once we have our van back – it’s en route to the US as of this writing. Will update in August).
We decided to add paneling to the sliding door as well as the rear door to give it a nice, finished feel. We used the same technique, using sheet metal screws to attach poplar to the van and then the cedar to the poplar.
Once all the cedar was in, we attached the spray-painted trim (we chose grey) for the Fan-tastic vent (Amazon) to the cedar.