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Boulder, CO

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Building a Frame for Wood Paneling

Derek Bartz

I needed to frame out the van while keeping a couple of things in mind:

  • Maximize Space- every inch counts when you are dealing with so few of them, especially the height of the ceiling
  • Building off of curved walls sucks- vans are not houses, nothing is straight.  But I can change that with the way the framing is constructed.
  • Anchor points- I will be attaching wood paneling to the frame and need plenty of places to secure them in place.  The framing will also be holding up cabinets, so they need to be SOLID
  • Insulation- leaving enough space, but not too much for insulation
  • Electrical- wires will run behind the paneling.  Ideally I would have everything planned out and know where to run wire prior to putting up the paneling; but I don't.  

Building Straight Walls

The Promaster is a unique van.  It is boxy on purpose, to maximize space.  This also allows it to have near 90 degree walls.  In most vans, trying to build a straight wall would be a bad idea due to the large loss of interior space; but not the case for the PM's.  After a bit of trial and error, I was able to frame out the sides of the van with what appears to be near vertical walls without losing any square footage at the floor.  A couple of the metal support beams stick out the farthest and I worked off of them to ensure that the wood paneling would cover these points.  There is one tricky part near the top-center of the van that juts out further into the van than the remaining side panel and I plan to build around this minor obstacle instead of bringing in the entire wall in order to conceal it.  

Bottom points of contact

Middle with support beam running the length of the wall

My solution to continuing the straight wall nearly to the ceiling.  The gap shouldn't be an issue.

A closer look at the top of the wall.  There were some weird angles to work with when putting in the header, requiring a tricky trapezoid shape in order to get a good joint.

Framed out wall.  Kind of like a house, not quite 16" on center though. 


In order to keep the ceiling as high as possible, I chose to mount the framing on the side of the support beams.  This was a bit tricky because they weren't perfectly square, but instead angled out on the sides.  Once again, I made an cut on the table saw to compensate for this and with a bit of trial and error found a way to mount it flush with the bottom of the beam.  The framing pieces were quite thick, so to allow them to bend with the curve of the ceiling I cut notches using a miter box saw.  

This ended up being the shape of the stripes of wood that went up on the ceiling

Notches spaced out evenly to allow the wood to follow the shape of the ceiling.