Our van has been our lockdown project. The aim is to have it converted so we can potentially go away on our honeymoon in it – so we knew we had our work cut out for us. With our impending wedding only five months away, full time jobs and colder weather conditions, we certainly were up against it. From trying to sort out the windows in Baltic conditions and eliminating rust our fingers were feeling the cold. It was time to work inside the van and finish off the other bits which needed to be completed to make our van become a mini home.
We started the insulation on the inside of the van pretty early on in the build so now we had to start covering the Celotex carcass surrounding us and make the spaceship style of the van dissipate. I had seen silver for too long! I was getting fed up trying to balance like a gymnast on the wooden batons running along the floor with jigsaw pieces of insulation slotted into place. The floor needed to be done as a priority before we could start to look at the walls and ceiling.
I started doing my research and looked on numerous websites. It’s always hard to tell how good a floor actually looks on a website. I remember when we were picking our carpet and it turns out your version of beige isn’t everyone else’s. There are hundreds of shades of beige. You can get beige as sandy as the beach or as dark as the mud on your doorstep (yes, I don’t class that as beige either). I ordered about 15 samples from various websites and soon rattled it down to just a few. I wanted one to be thick enough to take the edge off the cold floor. Despite it being insulated the van still gets pretty cold. I did a post on my Instagram and then asked for people to vote on my TikTok. After a LOT of feedback, we went for Factory Direct Flooring’s Barley Oak design. We were surprised with how affordable the flooring was as we have been on quite a few websites and seen some eye watering prices. I mean we are buying a floor for the van not the Taj Mahal! I was a bit anxious that we would be waiting around for ages for the flooring to arrive but despite this being during Covid, the vinyl was delivered promptly, and we were delighted with the thickness of the floor we had ordered. It was 3mm thick and we thought this would be perfect to keep the van floor warm, taking the edge off our insulation layer underneath. It has actually made me realise if I were to buy another vinyl floor, for me, 3mm thick is perfect. I certainly wouldn’t want less.
With most aspects of the van build cost was a huge element to consider. We had a strict budget which is pretty hard when you want a bespoke and modern look campervan. Inside a van the floor is a standout feature which can make or break your camper. Too dark and the space looks cramped. Too light and it becomes impractical. Too busy and it detracts from the craftsmanship inside. It was really difficult to decide as we haven’t even decided what colour our kitchen will be yet. I feel the colour we went for was safe and shouldn’t affect the rest of the build too much.
Oh and in case you are wondering and want to get a sample, the name of the vinyl was Toughtex Barley Oak. After toying with the idea of using laminate flooring, we realised we needed a lightweight, versatile and affordable floor. If we used laminate the weight would drag our camper even more on trips causing us an even bigger fuel bill. So, weight mattered. We also knew that laminate flooring is still a higher price than vinyl. We have watched so many YouTube videos by now we have quickly learnt the must do’s and don’ts. The trending decision on flooring seems to be to use vinyl so we felt pretty satisfied with our decision not to have laminate.
Once the flooring arrived, we laid it down and trimmed it to size. It took a bit of wiggling to work out how best to do it as we didn’t want it to get any of the loose stones on our driveway attached to it. There’s nothing worse than laying a floor and then finding a little lump in a place from a stone sitting snug on the underside!
I was a bit apprehensive about how easy it would be to lay the floor as admittedly, laminate has been fuss free each time I have used it. Once it was resting in the van and curled up around the walls, we started cutting away using a Stanley knife. It easily relaxed in the van and the edges tucked neatly to the sides. Within moments of the floor being laid the van had an instant uplift. It suddenly felt like a mini house on wheels and not a metal tin can we had been working on for months on end! It amazed me how something as simple as picking a floor can influence the rest of the build. This actually helped us make a decision with the colours for the rest of the van. We decided we will clad the walls to compliment the flooring as we wanted it to remain a feature of the van (a bit like a piece of art) and paint them white to ensure it didn’t detract from the floor. As we only have three windows in the back of the van, we don’t want anything too dark or overpowering. Light is essential.
Obviously as a rite of passage we needed to have a bit of a walk on it to see how durable it was. I was a bit apprehensive about our dog Rufus’ claws scratching the surface so watched him carefully as he scrambled about on it. I was pretty impressed with its versatility after a muddy dog walk combined with sharp nails scratching at its surface. It remains unmarked and easy to clean which are massive plusses! As most of you know, dog walks in winter are pretty messy. A wet sloppy coat covered in mud soon spreads all over the house. I feel like we are sweeping up most days during winter. In the van because the floor had a textured look it didn’t highlight any dirt and took the pressure off me whipping out the brush to keep it clean. At the same time, it was so easy to wipe down that even if he is filthy, I can quickly access a wet wipe.
Now we have completed the flooring in the van we are desperate to get cracking and sort the walls. We had better nip off to Wickes and collect the wood as with a third lockdown now upon us it seems DIY products are hard to source. At least I can have a cuppa, sit inside the van and not worry about the flooring.