Install Flooring

What’s Good in a Floor?

You will likely want to put some sort of floor in your conversion van.

The generally desirable characteristics for a floor:

  1. Strong and durable — able to handle the foot traffic and loads.
  2. Light weight
  3. Insulated to reduce undesired heat loss/gain
  4. Replaceable wear layer
  5. Looks nice
  6. Does not squeak or make noises when walked on or when driving
  7. Easy to install
  8. Low cost

If you are going to carry heavy toys (eg motorcycles), then the “strong and durable” gets more important.

Floor Options

Commercial Floors and Floor Kits

If you are converting one of the common vans, there are some commercially available floor kits that come with precut floor pieces to fit your van.

Some examples:

U.S. Upfitters cargo floors…

I was not able to find much in the way of floor kits, and the ones I did find tend to be oriented to hauling heavy commercial loads and expensive.  If you know of better choices, please let me know..

 

Plywood over Rigid Insulation Board

This is the approach we used on our conversion.

It uses 1/4 inch plywood to fill the spaces between the metal floor ribs, followed by a one inch sheet of rigid polyisocyanurate insulation board, followed by a layer of 1/4 inch plywood, and topped off with a floating vinyl flooring.

The layers are glued together using Great Stuff polyurethane insulation, which is a good adhesive.

Some overview pictures…

There is a full detailed description of building this floor here…

On the plus side, this approach is light weight, relatively easy to build, and not expensive.

We were a bit concerned about how durable the 1/4 inch plywood over insulation board would be, but it has (so far) worked fine.  It has also been quiet.  I would not change anything if I were doing it again.

While we used sheet Vinyl for the top layer, you could use tiles or wood or carpet depending on your tastes or what kind of service the van is in.

If you are thinking that maybe I don’t need insulation under the floor…

Plywood Floor Without Insulation

Some people just glue and screw a plywood floor to the van metal floor.

This is durable and simple, but it does leave you with very little thermal insulation for 20% or so of the van surface area.

Here is one example from the ProMaster Forum:

Of course, you want to be careful when screwing the floor down to not hit anything underneath.  You could stick to glue alone and probably do fine.

Plywood Floor on Spaced Up On Deep Ribs

RibFloor

This is an interesting floor design from the Ford Transit Forum that uses a plywood floor spaced up a couple inches from the metal floor using wood ribs glued to the floor metal ribs.  Rigid sheet insulation is added between the wood ribs.

This approach should be durable and allows using thick insulation.

Raised Floors

Some conversions use a floor that is raised a few inches to allow long items to be stored between the van metal floor and the raised floor.  You can store items up to 10 ft long in the 136 wheelbase vans under such a floor.

Camper Van Builds with Floor Details

A few links to camper van conversions that have at least some detail on the floor approach they used.

Class B Forum, good floor template techniques…

ProMaster Forum, Surfer van…

ProMaster Forum, Camper van…

 

Comments, Questions, Suggestions

17 Comments

  1. gary-

    quick question for you. does it bother you that this polyiso is fairly flammable? i tried lighting some on fire and it went up pretty quickly! makes me hesitant to insulate under the floor with it up by the engine. or am i just being paranoid? tks much – john

    • Hi John,
      You can get a form of the polyiso that is more resistant to flame — it has face sheets on both sides that appear to be some type fiberboard. I just tried a little fire test on it in the shop — if you hold a wood match up to the face sheet, it takes about 8 seconds to burn a small hole through the facesheet and the stuff under catches fire. If you remove the match the fire goes out. Of course the edges (with no facesheet) catch fire more easily — but it still goes out when you remove the flame.
      One brand for the polyiso that comes with the facesheets if Atlas RBoard. I used this on my floor because I had some of left over from and earlier project.

      I suppose its something to think about, but when you look at RVs (especially commercial ones) they are packed with flammable materials, so I decided not to worry about it for my conversion.

      I did try the same sort of sort of test on a sample of Thinsulate and it goes snap crackle and pop with a pretty vigorous flame that does not go out when you take the match away. And, supposedly it meets some kind of flammability standard for use in vehicles.

      Not sure that helps much.

      I can’t think of any common insulation material you could use on the floor that would be more flame resistant than the polyiso, but there probably is something.

      Gary

      • Couple of further thoughts.

        You could run aluminum tape around the edges of the polyiso to make them more resistant.

        Wonder about a paint that would impart some fire resistance? Back at Boeing some things were painted with intumescent (sp?) paint, which was resistant to fire, and actually foamed up a bit to insulate the material it was painted on from the flame to some degree.

        Gary

        • Gary-

          Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

          Yes I was thinking of adding some aluminum tape as you suggested.

          Another question for you. The front part of my van has an irregular floor. As such I can really use sheets of plywood over it as it will be too uneven. Any thoughts for substitutes?

          Many thanks – John

          • Hi,
            Not sure exactly what you mean by uneven, but would it work to use something like Great Stuff urethane foam in a can that would accomodate the unevenness of the floor?

            Maybe for that area, you could put some Great Stuff in place, and then place the plywood over the foam before it cures?

            Gary

  2. Hi Gary,

    I’m starting my project this weekend and I like the way you did your floor so I intend to copy. One question, did you use the Great Stuff of the spacers to adhere to the metal? Also, did you rip the slats your self or did you find them commercially?

    • Hi Chris,
      I used a polyurethane adhesive caulk to glue the spacers to the floor. Cannot remember the name, but I think it was made by Loctite and it might have had “3X” in the name.

      Its whats in the caulking gun on one of the photos on this page: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/our-conversion-flooring/
      But the label does not show very well.

      I think that using the Great Stuff might also work fine, but you would have to weight them down to make sure the foam does not push the strips away from the floor as it wants to expand as it cures.

      Gary

  3. Gary,

    I like your flour design and plan to mimic it in my gmc safari conversion. Curious to know why you placed the plywood ribs down between the raised channels on the floor? Many thanks, Nathan

    • Hi Nathan,
      They are just spacers to bring the level of the low parts up to the level of the raised parts. I was concerned that the polyiso insulation board would get pushed down into the lower parts when we walked on it. Not sure if its really necessary, but most of the conversions fill the low spots in one way or another.

      Gary

  4. Has anyone used Lizard Skin noise reduction material? It looks a lot more effective than the mat material?
    http://www.lizardskin.com/sound-control-insulation.html

    I don’t know about doing noise reduction in my van conversion (Chevy Express 2500 extended), but I’m strongly considering using their ceramic material for heat insulation, even if it is pricey. It’s non-toxic, and looks really effective.

    I was really impressed by both of their demo videos.

  5. Gary…I left a comment on the old site so this may be a duplicate.

    With new 2016 Promaster (136″ HT), I’ll start the floor process next week. Cost was $30,369 in Oregon. I will follow some of your plan…not the spray foam for insulation. Our sounds in the cab when driving are amazingly loud…can’t talk to my wife without yelling. So…thinking of putting down Dynamat to cover the entire floor and some of the interior wall space before doing anything else. Then…insulation with wood slats, polyiso board, plywood and vinyl linoleum, similar to your floor. What do you think of Dynamat Extreme as a noise reducer?

    • Hi,
      I did not put much effort into noise reduction — I placed some noise damping material on the inside rear fender walls, but that was it.

      In hindsight, if I were doing it again, I probably would use more noise treatment. The insulation and wall/floor/ceiling panels do attenuate noise quite a bit, but I would like ours to be a little more quiet.

      One thing that turned me off a bit on adding more sound damping was that I could not find good data on how effective all of those pretty expensive noise reduction mat products are.

      If you do go ahead and add noise treatment, you could get some before and after noise measurements that would help others decide if adding noise reduction material is worth it. I worked out a pretty simple method you could use to get some good noise number: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/our-promaster-camper-van-conversion-measuring-noise-levels/
      To make this worthwhile, you do have to measure before and after the noise treatment is installed.
      Please let us know!

      Gary

  6. Gary…I left a comment on the old site so this may be a duplicate.

    With new 1016 Promaster (136″ HT), I’ll start the floor process next week. I will follow some of your plan…not the spray foam for insulation. Our sounds in the cab when driving are amazingly loud…can’t talk to my wife without yelling. So…thinking of putting down Dynamat to cover the entire floor and some of the interior wall space before doing anything else. Then…insulation with wood slats, polyiso board, plywood and vinyl linoleum, similar to your floor. What do you think of Dynamat Extreme as a noise reducer?

    • Tem como colocar algum parâmetro de configuração no script do wpad.dat para uma máquina especifica da rede não cair nas regras do proxy? Ou seja, toda a rede vai passar pelo proxy utilizando o wpad, exceto uma máquina especifica. Existe algum parâmetro que eu coloque dentro do script que faça isso?

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