After installing the roof fans and insulating our campervan it’s time to install the ceiling. Installing the ceiling of our Promaster campervan was fairly easy. We knew we wanted a light but sturdy ceiling, so we found a nice tongue and groove at our local building materials store. Tongue and groove is easy to install, is lightweight, and looks nice. Here is how to install a tongue and groove ceiling.
What You'll Find in This Post
How to install a plank ceiling in a van
Materials needed to install the ceiling
- Furring strips
- Self-drilling screws
- Polyurethane adhesive
- Tongue and groove
- Kilz primer
- Varathane Stain & Poly
Total Cost of Plank Ceiling Installion
Preparing the ceiling
Since we didn’t want to drill any holes directly into the van, we cut furring strips that we could use for the walls and ceiling to attach to. We cut different lengths, then painted them with a mold and mildew resistant primer.
After we let them dry, we attached the furring strips on the upper ribs with 1-7/16 inch self-drilling wafer head screws. We then put furring strips around where our roof vent fan is. We marked out where the screws would be from the fan flange, pre drilled them, and then glued around them with polyurethane adhesive. If you were thinking ahead of time, you can put the furring strips up when you install the fan, but that was too far in advance for us. We added our fans early on in our build, and we didn’t think about the furring strips at that time.
READ more: Living the van life or have friends that do? Check out our gift guide for van owners
In the Promaster, there are a few ribs in the middle of the van going width wise, so we put the furring strips on top of the ribs. The only issue is there aren’t any ribs at the very front or the very back of the van. We added a couple furring strips in the front of the van and the back, just by glueing 2 furring strips together (to match the the height of the others on the ceiling), then we glued them to the ceiling. Now we have 5 strips along the ceiling that we can attach our tongue and groove too.
Before installing the ceiling, we stained the our tongue and groove. We used a very light stain, called satin oak, to just give it a nice little layer of protection. Once that dried, we started installing the wood panels.
We started our tongue and groove in the very center of our van. We have 4 puck lights down the center, so we measured out our board and where the lights will go, and pre-drilled the holes in our middle tongue and groove plank. Once we put the center one up, we just did one board on each side until finished. We used screws to hold them up. Once you have the first board up, it’s easy to line up the tongue and groove and then screw. It was fairly easy with 2 of us, as one person can hold the boards up and together, while the other one drills the screws in. If you are doing this alone, we suggest you have someone help you to keep the wood panels straight.
We had some wool insulation already up before hand, but as we put our wood boards up one by one, we continuted to stuff our insulation behind the board. Since we didn’t have long enough ceiling planks to go the whole van length, we just used different lengths throughout. We tried to mix it up, so there is no set pattern, but also looks as it’s supposed to be that way. If you have smaller boards than the van length, make sure you are drilling the boards to the furring strips towards the end of the planks, otherwise itll be a little loose. It actually turned out really good.
To continue with your van conversion, check out these other posts:
- What to use for your van insulation?
- How to install a roof fan in a van
- How to choose the best van for a van conversion