Van Build: Reusing Our Van Floor

Instead of buying another £50 piece of ply, we instead decided to reuse our van's original floor, for the base flooring (eventually we will put some vinyl or something over the top).

Written By Freedom Strider

On February 1, 2020

Since it was already cut to the right size around the wheel arches and the sides, it makes so much more sense to use what is already provided - especially since its heavy-duty ply. 💪 The floor was 4 years old, but it's was so dirty and uneven all over, so of course, we broke out the power sander and got cracking!

1

Assess the damage (repair if needed)

Having already unbolted and taken out the old floor, we noticed that it was in pretty good nick, considering it has had 5 years of wear and tear.

Aside from the bolt holes, there were no other holes in it, and although the surface looked worn out the ply underneath was good as new. ✨

reuse van floor - van conversion

2

Sand, sand, sand, sand, sand

Even though we weren’t going to see the floor, we still wanted to clean the 5 years of dirt and stains that had formed.

Also, having a nice temporary floor for the rest of the build seemed like a good idea. So it was our job (mostly Polly’s work) to sand the surface to get it ready for a new paint job. 🎨

Problem: It was 0°C outside, so we had to do it in the house! We taped up the dining room and got to work. It took around 8 hours…Polly’s arm was hurting for a week afterwards. 🤕

reuse van floor - van conversion

TOP TIP

If you are doing this, you need to invest in 3 things: A power sander (otherwise you will be there for 3 years and have no fingertips left), a dust mask, and a window that opens (breathing really does help).

We were taken by surprise, as it turned out we were not actually sanding ply. Instead, the floor was coated in some old grey protectant which dusted like there was no tomorrow!

3

Fill any damage/holes

We decided to keep the original bolt holes free and open, since we may end up passing pipework or wires through them anyway. But there was no other major damage.

If you do have rotten/damaged flooring, now is the time to fill in and repair it with wood filler or replace it with spare 9mm ply.

reuse van floor - van conversion

4

Varnish and protect

We had some spare deck sealant lying around, and since we want this ply to be weatherproof (due to moisture in the air, and years of temperature changes), we decided it was worth it.

Honestly, anything that waterproofs wood will do, and sanding it beforehand really helps since the varnish has something to bond to.

Also, since this is going to be our work floor for the majority of the build, having it waterproof makes it more hardwearing and gives us peace of mind.

If you’re not going to put anything over the top of this, you might do a few coats to make it look nice. Since this was just our under flooring, we did one thick coast and left it to soak in. ⏱️

reuse van floor - van conversion

5

Back in it goes

Despite it being cold, dark and raining, we needed to get the flooring back in, so in it went, and 20 minutes of manoeuvring later, it was in place. (Honestly it was much easier than getting the damn thing out).

Since it was already cut to size, we knew it would fit perfectly.

We decided not to screw the floor to the wooden beams right now, since we still might need to manoeuvre things around. The idea of underfloor heating intrigues us. ♨️

Eventually we will secure it…

reuse van floor - van conversion

6

Marking the wooden beams (optional but recommended)

Despite us not screwing the flooring to the wooden beams, we did mark out where the wooden beams are, since we covered them up and they aren’t visible. 

We did our best with masking tape to mark out where the beams are beneath.

This will not only help us know where to screw the floor to the beams, but also the furniture to the beams, through the floor.

It is best to bolt anything and everything to the beams, rather than just the floor, since the beams are stuck to the floor of the van itself, and gives it more rigitity and strength.

reuse van floor - van conversion
reuse van floor - van conversion

quick look

Quick Steps Overview:

 

  1. Sand the floor
  2. Fix any damage
  3. Varnish/paint it
  4. Put back in
  5. Mark beams with tape
  6. Screw down (optional)

NEXT VAN BUILD STEP

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