How to Frame Your Van Conversion
Materials needed for this project →
- 3/4 hardwood plywood from local hardware store
- EZ Cool
- 3M 90
- Hanger bolts
- Regular bolts — 2–3” long
- Plus Nuts and accompany tool (learn how to do that here)
- Trusty pencil, jigsaw, drill with drill bits
I’m here for ya.
Seriously! Reach out on Instagram or YouTube with questions.
If reading gets you down, watch the video now.
Install your plus nuts!
I wanted to drill as little as possible into my van so all of my furring strips are bolted directly into cross/plus nuts I set in the van walls. Yay! Success on reducing drilling (and potential rust).
If you haven’t done that yet, this process won’t make sense to you.
So watch the video and take care of that step!
Install your EZ Cool.
Before I put up my furring strips, I covered all of the metal areas on my walls with EZ Cool to act as my radiant barrier.
I placed my hanger bolts in my plus nuts, cut a piece of EZ Cool to fit over that area (I only had 8 hanger bolts so I could only work in small sections at a time), spray the metal surface with the 3M 90 and the back of the EZ Cool, wait those critical 30-seconds, place the EZ Cool over the metal section on the wall and pop the hanger bolts through the EZ Cool (this makes sure you can find the plus nuts even though they are now obscured by the EZ Cool).
Start putting up furring strips.
Once all of the metal surfaces were covered in EZ Cool (everywhere I would be putting up furring strips), I then placed my hanger bolts inside the plus nuts I wanted to bolt a furring strip to, cut my plywood furring strip (I went around 5” wide for maximum surface area to attach things to down the road, which has worked well), held that furring strip up to the wall exactly where I wanted it to end up, and then pressed the wood back onto the hanger bolts hard enough to make a small dent on the back of the wood.
This marks the exact spot where I will drill a hole and then run my bolt through in order to (if you do it right) catch the plus nut in the wall and pull the furring strip tight against the wall for a super secure mount.
On the right, all of the silver spots on my furring strips are where I did the process described above and ran a bolt straight through the furring strip and into the plus nut in the wall of the van.
Sometimes the hole I drilled did not line directly up with the plus nut so I had to wiggle the screw around, change the angle, and generally just keep trying to get the bolt I was screwing through the hole I had drilled to catch in the plus nut. You will know when it catches. It’s a super awesome feeling!
Frame your window boxes.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my windows but I took my best guess and decided that as much area as I could cover around the windows should be covered to provide as many options for building out a pretty-looking window box as possible down the road.
Turns out I was mostly right! I tried to make sure there was a solid section of plywood available for mounting on both sides and above and below each window.
It has worked well so far.
I was very happy with my plus nuts! I have had zero trouble with the structural integrity of each of my furring strips.
Couple of things, originally, I did not countersink my bolt heads in my furring strips. But when I moved on to paneling the walls, wherever there was a bolt head sticking out of the plywood furring strip, I had to take it out and counter-sink it to make my paneling sit flush with the wall. So, I would countersink all of my bolts when installing the furring strips. (above, a place where I tried putting paneling over the protruding bolt head and the wood cracked).
Secondly, I went HAM on some pieces putting around 8–10 bolts into one single furring strip…I quickly realized this was way overboard. I used 2–4 bolts in most of the pieces in the van and they were perfectly secure and strong.
The boards with 8+ bolts in them have been almost useless so far…(see them on opposite sides of the van above).