Installing the van roof - Build 2

For my second van build I decided to remove the carpeted plywood roof and replace it with a plain wooden one.

The reasons for this were two:

  1. I like wood.
  2. I hate carpet.

Don’t get me wrong, carpeting is great for insulation but If you are traveling with a very hairy dog it’s just a nightmare to keep clean.

I first thought of just using a 6mm plywood, I thought it would look nice and neat. I used the old carpeted piece as a template for the new one, cut the new roof out, sanded it and varnished it to then realize that it just looked horrible.

After a bit of thinking I decided the solution would be to just cover it with some cladding to give that cool boat like style.


Lots of people cover the walls and the roof of their vans with cladding. You normally don’t have a “back support” like I did,  you just directly fix the cladding to the metal body of the van. This is great as you are not adding any weight, but it can be tricky to work on especially if you are working with curves.

Despite adding a little weight, I don’t regret having that support on the back of the cladding as it allowed me to lay the cladding from side to side of the van (and not from the front to the back) and it saved me a lot of hassle as I just needed to measure from the precut template and cut the cladding pieces to fit. Also, I was able to work on the roof outside of the van, and sand it all in one go which is a bonus.

Here I will show you the method I used WITH the back support, if you are trying to reduce to minimum the weight you’re adding then consider fixing cladding directly to the body of the van.

Wanna know exactly how to achieve a Pam roof? Keep reading.






If you don’t have one already like me, measure out where you’ll be placing your roof, copy the measurements in a 6 or 8mm plywood sheet and cut using a jigsaw.



Start cutting your cladding using your saw of choice. Make sure you are cutting from the back not from the front to avoid fraying.



Place your cladding on the support and fix the male into the female edge. Be gentle when you do that or the male edge might break off (the cheaper the cladding the more this will happen, and yes it happened loads to me).


Fix the cladding to the support using wood screws. To have a neat looking roof, make sure you are placing the wood screws at exactly the same position in all cladding strips .



I used sanding sheets of different roughness for the roof. I believed I used a 80 sheet to smooth out the edges and a 120 sheet for the rest.  Sanding the roof will remove flaws in the wood and prepare it for the following step. I like sanding. If you have anything that needs sanding let me know.



It’s really important to apply varnish to make your work more durable. I decided to apply a transparent varnish as I quite liked the look of the light pine. You can decide to change the color of the roof, just make sure you try out your varnish before applying it tho the whole thing. I applied two layers of waterproof varnish leaving 2h drying out time.



Once you are happy with the result and you’ve run all the cabling behind it you are ready to fix your roof.For this I used 5cm self tapping screws and screwed the edges and the center of the roof directly to the metal ridges of the van. It’s useful to measure before hand where the ridges are and report the position to the roof itself so that once the roof is placed you know exactly where to put the screws.


Voilà, your work here is done. Need to figure out how to install some LED Lights? Check this post out!



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