#Vanlife DIY: How to carpet your van conversion wall panels

#Vanlife DIY: How to carpet your van conversion wall panels-Skoolies & Van Conversion blog
This is a simple guide for all you van conversion DIYers looking to finish your wall panels with some extra flair in by adding patterned fabric, vinyl, or carpet.

Whats the point of having a van conversion for unreal road trips with friends and family if it's not functional and feels like a second home! There are so many ways you can finish your vans aesthetic off and picking a nice TOUGH fabric to cover the wall panels is a very popular option.
Here's what you're going to need:

Van conversion wall panel materials:

  • 1/4" staples
  • Electric or pneumatic stapler (huge help)
  • 1/4" baltic birch or plywood sheet. Try and find something that is a true 1/4 inch sheet or your staples can splinter through your finished side on the fabric.
  • High Adhesion Trim/Headliner Spray Glue - This is important! Or your roof fabric will come detached from the wood with weather fluctuations and you'll need to start all over again after you have everything installed in your conversion van. It's a nightmare.
  • Utility knife with fresh blades
  • Carpet/Fabric/Vinyl of your choice
  • J-Roller so you can roll out the fabric to ensure it's flat
  • Self tapping screws
  • Finishing washers

Additional tips for the panelling process:

  • Cut the carpet with 1.5-2 inches of extra materials around the edges. You don't want to fall short.
  • Wall Panels are cut from your 4x8 1/4" birch. We find that it helps to use cardboard or paper to make templates of your van wall panel areas and trim accordingly. If you don't want to do this on your own, contact us and we can cut the wall panels for your van!
  • Use heavy duty trim or automotive headliner adhesive for your vans wall panels. Elmers spray glue will have you pulling your hair out when your fabric starts to fall off with hot weather. To be extra careful, especially with hanging panels like your roof, spray the panel and the material and wait 5-10 minutes for the adhesive to tack (see the bottle for instructions).
  • Once glued, carefully lay your panel onto your material and flip it, use your J-roller (or hands if you must) to ensure there are no air bubbles or debris and that the material is pressed against the panel.
  • Once you have rolled/pressed the material onto the panel face, flip the panel back over so you see the back of the panel.
  • Pull the material over your wall panel and staple the side that takes the LEAST amount of pulling and stretching. This will secure a side for those tricky curves and corners that will need LOTS of pulling.
  • Use the staple gun to "hook" material and stretch further. MAKE SURE you check the size of the staples, the last thing you want to do is create this beautiful panel, have your fabric cut and staple through the front of it and puncture the other side. This is also why you need a true 1/4 inch piece of wood!
  • Always pull tight to create the "tightest" looking wall panel. See the video on how to cut your corners properly into a little dovetail to make it easier on yourself.

This will give you a beautifully covered wall panel for your van conversion.

If you don't know where to buy product for your conversion, look for some local upholstery shops who will sell you some carpet or vinyl. Amazon also has some selection but it's hard to tell what it looks like in a small image. If you are looking to buy wall panels or have someone do your conversion for you contact us!

Material commonly used for van conversion wall panelling:

  • Duramax Carpet
  • Automotive Carpet
  • Church Pew Carpet
  • Interweave Carpet
  • Marine Vinyl

If you cannot find these from a local shop, give us a shout and we will do our best to help you out!

We hope this helps you on your DIY van conversion journey, if you have any questions or comments let us know!

Check out our gallery for inspiration and our journal for other useful information on van conversions and custom skoolie builds!


Paved To Pines.



  • William Barnes

    Read your great wall carpet article and I indicated you can sell cut wall panels. I am getting a 2023 Ford transit extended 350hd. In production now. What would be the cost for cut panels. This would be a time saver. Frame out and install panels.

    Bill 780 913 3473

  • Alexander

    I used shorter staples and could use thinner plywood than 1/4 inch for panels that don’t actually carry any weight. Way too many people make their van really unnecessarily heavy.

  • Fidel

    about Dress for Evening
    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…

    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow,
    just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  • Lisa Shaner

    How do you finish the edges using Duramax fabric to prevent fraying? Thanks

  • Mitch

    Hey Annette and Val!

    Annette, we attach these birch panels to the walls by using screws with finishing washers.

    Hey Val,

    I’m not sure how well it would go over top of the existing fabric. If you are worried about it, I would just trace the panels they have made already and cut it out with a jigsaw and cover the new van panels with your own fabric!

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