How-To Install A Vinyl Floor In Your Van

We spent a couple days replacing the soft stock floor mat with a plywood and vinyl floor. The stock mat is not the best foundation to build a bed and cabinets on top of. And it doesn’t give you that cozy home feeling. Instead it gives off a work van vibe, not the killer adventure van feeling we want.

We went with a rather thin floor with minimal insulation so that the D-ring bolt holes are still usable.

Rear view of vinyl floor

View from the rear of finished vinyl floor.

Side view of vinyl floor

View from the side of finished vinyl floor.

Floor Layers

Floor layers: sheet vinyl, vinyl adhesive, plywood, underlayment, plywood strips, adhesive, and van floor all held together with wood screws.

Parts

We spent approximately $500 on parts:

Tools

  • Socket set
  • Razor blade
  • Trowel
  • Circular saw
  • Miter saw
  • Jig saw

Video

Instructions

The original flooring was removed, including the side step, back step, and floor mat. The side step and back trim have bolts and push pins holding them down.

Removing bolt covers from side step trim

To remove the side step trim you need to pop up the bolt covers. The tip of a razor blade works good for this.

Removing bolts from the side step trim

4 bolts and three push pins hold the side step down.

Once the bolts were removed, some force was needed to actually remove the trim pieces. They’re held down with some plastic push pins. We broke 1 of the 3 during removal of the side step.

Rear entry without trim

Rear entry without trim.

Side entry without trim

Side entry without trim.

We then laid out the 3 pieces of 4’x8’x15/32″ exterior AC plywood with the good side down.

3 sheets of plywood

3 sheets of 8’x4’x15/32″ exterior AC plywood is enough to cover the floor and only have 2 seams.

We took the mat off and laid it down on top of the wood. We put the front of the mat all the way to the edge of the wood since we wanted that to be a straight edge.

Stock floor mat on top of the plywood

Laying the stock floor mat on top of the plywood gives a nice template.

We then traced out the mat. Having the mat made the job a little easier.

Tracing the mat onto the plywood

Tracing the mat onto the plywood.

Tracing around the wheel wells

Tracing around the wheel wells.

We then used a jigsaw and circular saw to cut out the wood.

Using jig saw to cut the plywood

Using a jigsaw to cut the plywood.

When we got to the front we decide to not cut out the step yet. The mat did not extend the whole way to the step because of the trim piece.

Test fitting the plywood

After tracing and cutting everything out except for the side step area we placed the plywood back into the van to test the fit.

We then tried our best to trace along the step to get a better cut.

Tracing the side entry

With the plywood in place we traced out the side step entry.

Tracing the side entry

At first we thought we weren’t going to use the stock trim pieces so we needed to get the plywood as close to the metal floor edge as possible. In the end this didn’t matter as we had to cut more off to make room for the stock trim pieces.

Rear entry view of the plywood

Test fitting the plywood.

The fit up was pretty good.

Side step area test fitting

Test fitting the plywood.

Inside view of the plywood

Inside view of the plywood. It fits!

We wrote a little message in Gidget before affixing the floor.

Message on floor

Before we permanently installed the floor we wrote a little message.

Some of the valleys in the floor are rather wide, and we wanted to avoid bowing of the subfloor, so we cut some strips out of the excess plywood. This also made the floor more sturdy and will hopefully provide extra support for the bed and cabinets. This is also what we used to screw the subfloor down.

Strips of wood in the low parts of the van floor

We cut strips of 15/32″ plywood and attached them to the low parts of the floor with 3M 4200 adhesive.

After we cut the wood strips and placed them where we wanted them we started gluing. We had some leftover 3M 4200 adhesive from the fan install that we stored in our fridge, there was just enough to glue down all of the pieces.

Laying a bead of 3M 4200 adhesive

3M 4200 leftover from the fan install was used to attach the strips of wood to the van floor.

Strips of wood in the low parts of the van floor

All the strips came from the leftovers pieces after cutting the floor out.

Standing on the strips of wood on the van floor

The strips of wood sit just above the high points of the floor.

We weighed down the floor with some glass desks that we had on hand and let the adhesive cure overnight. When we came back in the morning the wood was securely bonded to the floor.

Glass desk tops used for weight

Heavy glass desk tops were used to weigh down the plywood strips while the adhesive cured.

Underlayment

We didn’t want to raise the floor too much but we wanted at least something between the plywood subfloor and the metal van floor. We found very thin underlayment and used that as insulation. Label says it adds stability, sound dampening, and thermal insulation.

We decided to layer the floor outside how it would be installed in the van to hopefully not mess up any of the cuts. We had a painters tarp handy, so we put the underlayment on top, and then the plywood subfloor.

Plywood on top of the underlayment

We used the plywood as a template to cut out the underlayment.

We cut the underlayment with a razor blade keeping roughly an inch around the wood.

Cut out underlayment

We left about an inch of extra underlayment on all sides to account for any gaps on the sides.

We then rolled out the vinyl floor on top of the plywood and got to cutting. The vinyl comes in a 12 foot wide piece. We wanted the wood to run lengthwise in the van, so we purchased a 12’x12′ piece. We cut off roughly 6′ and rolled it up and set it aside as our, if we really screw this up we can start over piece. We then cut out the major pieces such as the wheel wells, leaving a few inches of wiggle room.

Rough cutting the vinyl

We laid the vinyl on top of the wood and cut the general shape out. We left at least 6″ around all the sides. Once we put into the van we did the final trimming.

If we were to do this again, I might consider cutting as close to the plywood edges as possible. The vinyl is pretty easy to cut and it is hard to cut around some of the edges of the van when it is in it. It is probably easier with a square room, but all of the curves made it pretty rough.

Rough cut of the vinyl floor

Rough cut of the vinyl.

We then rolled up the vinyl and started installing the pieces in the van. We started with the underlayment.

Underlayment

The underlayment was placed on top of the plywood strips.

Then added the plywood. We ended up marking on the plywood where the wood strips were so we knew where we could screw into.

Plywood on top of underlayment

The plywood was placed on top of the underlayment.

We then used the countersink drill bit to pre drill holes into the subfloor, spaced out roughly every 12′ – 16″. Then the #8 3/4″ screws for plywood were installed in the subfloor, attaching it to the bonded wood pieces. The screws and seams were then covered with a floor leveling compound to create a smooth surface under the vinyl.

Screwing subfloor down

Roughly every 12 to 16 inches the subfloor was screwed into the plywood strips.

Leveling and smoothing compound

The screw holes and seams were filled with floor leveling and smoothing compound.

After the leveling compound dried, it was time to install the vinyl. Half of the vinyl was folded out of the way. A felt vinyl adhesive was laid down on the plywood using a trowel.

Trowelling vinyl adhesive

Using a trowel vinyl adhesive was applied to the plywood floor.

After the adhesive covered the floor, we folded the vinyl back over a used and used a rolling pin to roll out any air pockets.

Using a rolling pin to remove air bubbles from the vinyl floor

We used a dough rolling pin to get rid of any air bubbles.

Vinyl floor rear view

Rear entrance showing the vinyl floor.

Vinyl floor, side entrance view

Side entrance showing the underlayment, plywood, and vinyl sandwich.

Looks pretty good doesn’t it! We went with sheet vinyl because it’s waterproof, thin, durable, easy to install, and looks decent.

Once the vinyl was down we added trim around the side and rear entrances.

vinyl floor

Installed vinyl floor.

Side entrance and stock trim

Side entrance showing stock trim and vinyl floor.

Close up of side entrance trim

Close up of side entrance trim and vinyl floor.

Cutting metal trim

Cutting metal trim.

Pre-drilling holes for the metal trim

Pre-drilling holes to screw in the metal trim pieces.

Close up of the installed trim and the vinyl floor

Close up of the installed trim.

Side entrance showing the vinyl floor with finished trim

Side entrance with finished trim.

Any of the large gaps around the edges of the floor were filled with Great Stuff spray foam.

Spray foam

We filled the larger gaps between the floor and the van walls with spray foam.

Applying white caulk

White caulk was used to seal the edges of the floor.

Finished edge with white caulk

Finished edge after applying white caulk.

Rear view of vinyl floor

View from the rear of finished vinyl floor.

Side view of vinyl floor

View from the side of finished vinyl floor.

25 Comments

  1. Reply
    Claudia May 29, 2016

    Looks super nice, you guys did a neat, professional job. The video was exciting to watch.

  2. Reply
    Sam May 29, 2016

    This is a fantastic reference. I’m just starting to think about how to set my SWB van up, and had been assuming I’d need to drill through the floor of the van. I love that the plywood gives you a solid foundation to add to. The end result looks great. Thank you for the (very) detailed pictures and video.

    • Reply
      Matt May 29, 2016

      Anytime I can avoid putting another hole in the van I will. So far it feels pretty strong. I’m happy with the results.

  3. Reply

    […] CA Posts: 209 Mentioned: 1 Post(s) Tagged: 0 Thread(s) Quoted: 77 Post(s) Nice work! We went with strips of wood in the valleys. Crazy how many different ways there are to build out an RV van. 2016 350 HD SRW […]

  4. Reply

    […] Moreys In Transit: How-To Install A Vinyl Floor […]

  5. Reply
    David Michael August 9, 2016

    Great work on photos and videos. Very professional job on the floor. Bravo! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Reply
    Steve Edsall February 8, 2017

    Hi,
    I really like the way you did the floor in your Transit. Now that you have used it awhile are you satisfied with the sound deadening and insulating qualities of it?

    Thanks for spending so much that me documenting your build.
    Steve

    • Reply
      Matt February 8, 2017

      It’s good enough. If we were to do it again we would cut the plywood differently so that the Seema didn’t interfere with our bench seat.

  7. Reply
    Ely April 4, 2017

    How much of the vinyl flooring did you buy? How many meters (or feet?)

    • Reply
      Matt April 5, 2017

      About 12′ of 12′ wide sheet vinyl.

      • Reply
        Mason August 30, 2017

        What did you use the left over vinyl for? I am in a predicament. Haha, too much vinyl.

        • Reply
          Matt August 31, 2017

          It’s currently sitting in my garage. We will probably put it up on Craigslist for free.

  8. Reply

    […] Morey’s In Transit – http://moreysintransit.com/install-vinyl-floor-van/ […]

  9. Reply
    Mike Maj May 24, 2017

    This is the best van floor I have seen yet. My plan is to do the same to my van. I want to use thinner plywood than you used for my top surface so the strips are crucial so that there will be no bowing. Really great job. Nice to see a professionally looking job compared to all the half as attempts made by others on the Internet.

  10. Reply
    Van Derlust June 27, 2017

    Looks great! We are so happy with our flooring too! It feels so great to have this part done!
    http://van-derlust.com/flooring/

  11. Reply
    Gayle S. September 6, 2017

    Nice looking floor! We are going to do ours the same and don’t have many questions because you gave great details. Only question we have, is the plywood pressure treated (exterior AC) or is that something different? Many thanks!!

    • Reply
      Matt September 6, 2017

      Exterior AC plywood.

  12. Reply
    Gayle S. September 14, 2017

    Hi Matt: I order everything from Amazon from your links for the floor install. Just wondering, I got the countersink bit and it looks like the drill bit(bit part) is close to 2″ long. Does that sound right? I know the exterior ac is 1/2″ plus the shims under it are another 1/2″. This seems to long because it also countersinks. It says 11/64″.
    Odd, but the package has been opened and taped back together. Just want to check with you if I need to return it.

    Thanks again for all your research and all. I even order a Maxxfan from your link 🙂

    • Reply
      Matt September 24, 2017

      The countersink part of the bit is adjustable. I just used a normal drill bit first and then came back and used the countersink on the already drilled hole.

      • Reply
        Gayle S. September 24, 2017

        OK, thank you. I’m new at using these type bits. I appreciate all your help and post on here.

  13. Reply
    Dennis Purk October 1, 2017

    I was curious as to why you did not use the insulation and floor that came with the Van under the plywood. I am getting ready to do mine and that was my idea. Your thoughts?

    • Reply
      Matt October 1, 2017

      No real reason other than the fact that it squishes and we wanted our floor to be as low as possible.

      • Reply
        Dennis Purk October 2, 2017

        Thanks. Your website has helped me a lot. Thanks for your time.

  14. Reply
    Rob October 10, 2017

    Is that a fiberglass backed vinyl sheet? I was looking into something similar on my van, but I found that type of vinyl flooring should only have a pressure sensitive adhesive applied to it instead of the permanent adhesive you have listed in your materials.

    • Reply
      Matt October 10, 2017

      I don’t think it’s fiberglass back.

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