I found a bunch of old barn wood for free off of craigslist, restored it, and made it into wood siding. I wanted the van to feel cozy, like a cabin. It was way too much work, but in the end worth it. Or you could just go buy siding/paneling. The wood paneling looks much better than straight plywood or other lighter plastic materials. I was willing to sacrifice the weight for the aesthetic.
- Wood (search craigslist or find other wood paneling at the lumber yard)
- Danish Oil
- Nail Gun
I found an old craigslist ad advertising a bunch of free barn wood. The description was vague, and I couldn't get a response through email so I just headed down to the location to look around. It was a new home build and they had torn the old barn out back down. I jumped the fence and found a pile of wooden planks. I sorted through most of it, taking the straight, thin boards. Score!
This was the hard part. The barn wood was in rough shape, and a lot of it was cover in a thick coat of paint on one side. I needed a planer to thin the boards, but something burly enough to handle a job this big isn't easy to find. I bought an old planer off craigslist. It worked alright, but took too long and eventually the knives would dull. In the end, I paid a carpenter friend to take the boards to his workplace with an industrial planer, which was much faster. We got them down to about 1/2", a little thinner would have been preferred. Sanding and staining with danish oil followed. Lastly, using a router and square bit, I put a thin indent on each side of the board to split each panel up.
I needed something to nail the boards into, so I framed out the walls as best I could. My van is a like a bubble, nothing is straight. I used strips of plywood and drilled into the frame of the van where I could. The Econolines aren't set up that well for this.
Starting from the top or bottom, I used a nail gun to install the wood paneling. Decide where you want breaks in the wall, and make a pattern if you like. I just went with it, making things up as I went along. For the ceiling find a friend, it is nearly impossible by yourself. The corners got a bit tricky, but I was able make some angled cuts on the table saw that fit nicely.