What do you cover the internal walls with? Thats a question everyone building a camper-van will have to decide and the first choice for most is camper-van carpet lining or 4 way stretch lining. The reason this is often used is because its very easy to fit especially around difficult angles as its forgiving and stretches in all directions. Its also low cost and it looks good. The next choice is usually wood. Wood is a liitle more difficult to fit but again it does look good if properly fitted.
My Choice and Why: Because I planned to use a laminated light weight grey ply (15mm thick) I ruled out using wood wall panels. The next choice would be to use stretch fabric and whilst it looks ok it can be found in almost every homemade camper-van and I wondered whether it may have been around a little too long and will soon go out of fashion, who knows? In the end I took the more expensive option and bought a full set of Solway Panels (links to Solway Panels are at the bottom of this page). These are molded plastic panels that are very easy to maintain (wipe down). They are fairly easy to fit and give a professional finish.
Price: The price for a full set is around £1,100. I later added the rear wheel covers as well so that pushed the total to £1200. Not cheap, but having owned them for over six months now I can honestly say that I am glad I decided to use them.
Below: The panels arrived long before the van had been prepared or even insulated. I wanted to see how they fit before insulating the van. I didn’t want a situation whereby the insulation I added was so thick that the panels wouldn’t fit.
Below: The panels are fairly close but they do need a little shaping and cut-outs here and there.
Below: The window panels needs to be cut. Its worth a mention that unlike Stretch Fabric or Wood Panels you have one attempt to get it right otherwise you end up with a costly mistake. Take your time, measure twice, cut once. Fortunately, I didn’t have any costly errors.
Below: It probably seems an odd time to fit the curtains long before the van is completed but I wanted easy access behind the panel so I fitted them the same time as I fitted the panels (and managed to keep them clean throughout the build).
Internal and External Window Cutting: Now the difficult part. I wanted my internal windows to align neatly with the internal wall panels, I also wanted the windows to align correctly outside. Get one of these cuts wrong and you end up with something thats out of alignment and looks a mess. This is why these external windows (shown below) were not fitted when I installed the other windows.
Firstly mark out where you want the internal windows on the plastic panel, make sure there are no supporting metal van struts behind and no metal seams on the outside of the vehicle, you dont want to cut through one of these seams. Also make sure that the window area on the inside and outside of the van are in a neat location. You wont know if you are right until you start cutting so heres what to do. Drill a small hole (1mm) through the plastic panel so that it “marks” but doesn’t cut through the vans metal wall. Remove the panels and check the location of the “mark“. If its wrong then you can stop, the only damage would be a small 1mm hole. Try and work out were this drill mark is on the outside of the van and make sure the outside window is where you want it. Dont start cutting metal just yet.
Below: I have drilled my guide hole then cut out the window square in the panel. If you look carefully you will see I have made a wooden frame to support the window. Both the bedroom and bathroom windows have been cut. Now that these are cut I can draw around the wood frame and prepare to cut the van metal. The windows should now align correctly just make sure your cuts are straight and not at a slight angle.
Below: this image shows the wooden frame that sits under the plastic wall panel. The external and internal window sections will screw into this panel. Use the panel to locate exactly were you will cut the hole
Below is a link to Kiravans suppliers of stretch wall lining
Solway Panels: https://solwaycamperconversions.co.uk/online-shop