Van Flooring Ideas

One of the first projects I had to tackle when I built my DIY camper van was the van flooring. I wanted a durable floor that was also well insulated and I love the way it turned out!

While van flooring is a fairly straightforward step, it’s crucial to use the right materials because the rest of your build will sit on top of it. You need something durable that can carry significant weight without failing, warping or cracking.

In this article, I share my steps for installing a van floor, what the best van flooring options are, and what I chose for the flooring in my van.

Sound Deadening On Your Van Floor

Before you can begin insulating or laying the subfloor on your van, it’s important to put down a sound deadening material. 

Sound deadening materials are easy to install, they’re basically giant stickers you put on the sheet metal of your van which help reduce the vibration noises from driving.

Popular brands for quality sound deadening include:

Kilmat (This is what I used and I’m very happy with it.)
FatMat
Noico

Tips for installing sound deadening:

  • A box of 50 square feet was more than enough for my Ford Transit 148” Extended (about 22 feet long).
  • You must press hard enough to flatten the ridges on the metallic side. The sound deadening works best if you’ve pressed the sheet completely smooth. A roller helps.
  • It’s more difficult to install if it’s cold. I had a very hard time getting my sound deadening to smooth out while installing them in winter. A heat gun or hair dryer is helpful to warm up the material before installing it.
  • Sound deadening does not need to cover everything. The wheel wells are the loudest, so it’s best to completely cover those surfaces. However, everything else only needs 30%-60% coverage in order to get the full sound deadening benefits.

Van Floor Insulation

Insulating the floor of your van is an important step. Depending on what weather climates you plan to be in the amount of insulation will vary.

If you plan to be in very cold climates then you’ll want more insulation on your floor. If you don’t plan to be anywhere close to freezing temps then you can get away with less insulation. Keeping in mind, the more insulation you install, the lower your head clearance will be in the van.

I’m a 3-season traveler and avoid sub-freezing temperatures. My van flooring insulation is 1 inch thick XPS foamboard and I’m happy with this in climates with temperatures between 40°F-90°F.

And what about those pesky floor ridges? I’ve seen two ways to manage installing your van flooring over a surface that isn’t flat. The first way (which I don’t recommend) is to create a support grid with lumber that you can drop square pieces of insulation between, and then lay your subfloor over.

Credit: overlandingsophia.com

The reason why I don’t prefer this method is because it creates thermal gaps where the wood support pieces are, so it’s not as effective at insulating as the second method.

The second method, which is what I installed in my van, is to use strips of XPS foam board (this is important because XPS can withstand compression and still retain its insulating properties) to fit between the van floor ridges. The ridges on a Ford Transit are approximately ¼” tall, so foamboard that’s ½” thick is perfect for the first layer.

My Camper Van Flooring Insulation

With the strips of XPS foam board cut and installed between the factory floor ridges I then laid my second layer of XPS foam board on top. The second layer covers wall to wall and can be as thick as necessary for your use case. I chose 1/2 inch for my second layer, so my total van flooring insulation is 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick (depending on the ridges).

Both layers can be installed using spray adhesive (I used Hi-Strength 90 by 3M and highly recommend it). I also used PL375 for installation, but I felt this was redundant and not worth the additional cost, next time I’d just stick to Hi-Strength 90.

In fact, I do not recommend screwing anything to your van floor – the glue is enough to keep the insulation in place. Once the sub-flooring plywood goes on over it, and then cabinets are screwed into both the floating floor and the furring strips on your walls, you’ll have created a secured floor that doesn’t require holes. Unnecessary holes can rust or leak.

Tip – if your van came with factory flooring, you want to remove this, but don’t throw it out until you’ve used it as a template for your insulation, subfloor and top floor layers. I do not recommend using the factory flooring because it is poor quality and not sturdy enough.

Plywood Subflooring And Mold Prevention

Once you have the van floor insulation installed, it’s time to add a layer of plywood for your sub-flooring. This is effectively the structure of your floor and will allow you to screw cabinets, benches, your bed, etc into it.

The subfloor layer must be sturdy. For this reason I do not recommend using the factory flooring (my Ford Transit did not come with a plywood floor layer, but most Mercedes Sprinter vans do). The factory van flooring is cheap and will buckle and bend over time.

Materials that are good for sub-flooring in a van are hardwoods, marine-grade plywoods and absolutely not pines or softwoods. I used Baltic Birch, which is expensive, but also a high quality plywood that doesn’t have softwood fillers that would compromise its structural strength. It’s worth using for your flooring and switching to a less expensive wood for non-structural items.

If you’re looking for a turnkey solution that is lightweight, pre-cut, and easy to install then you should consider Rainier subfloors

Rainier subfloor is essentially a few giant puzzle pieces which are CNC-cut to perfectly fit your van’s floor. You glue them to the metal van floor and then your topfloor layer is installed over them. 

Essentially, they replace the need for insulation and a plywood subfloor. Plus, they’re about 40% lighter than plywood.

When you purchase Rainier subfloors through Campervan HQ they include a perfectly cut topfloor layer from 2Tec2 or Lonseal of your choice.

Pros:
✅ Cut exactly to fit your van
✅ Made from high-tech composite board that is 40% lighter than marine-grade plywood
✅ Waterproof
✅ Easy to install

Cons:
❌ Expensive

Tip – If you opt for a plywood subfloor I highly recommend painting it with a waterproof and mold-resistant paint. I used this Mold Killing Primer from Rust-Oleum and have been very happy with the results.
Hopefully, you never have a leak or mold problem, but if you do, this will help keep your plywood clean which means less repair work for future you.

Van Flooring Ideas

Now that you have completed the insulation and subfloor layers of your van, it’s time to decide which is the best topfloor material. There are many options when it comes to van flooring ideas, and which one is best for you comes down to a few considerations.

Things To Consider When Choosing Van Flooring

Installation

The installation process is worth considering. Some items, like vinyl plank, are incredibly easy to cut and install. Some van flooring, like sheet vinyl, require gluing and there’s little room for error, or the ability to correct mistakes.

Budget

There’s a wide range of material costs for van flooring. Luckily, the square footage required is small, so the total budget won’t vary greatly for most materials.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of glue, adhesive, and tools required for installation.

Durability

How well will the van flooring hold up to wear? Is it waterproof? Will fur, sand or dirt get stuck in cracks and cause issues? Is it stainproof? There are a lot of ways you’ll test the limits of your flooring so how impervious it is to elements is important.

Ability to Clean

While carpeting is great for insulation and coziness, it’s almost impossible to clean in a van, and it’s definitely not stain resistant. In a van, you really want something you can wipe down daily.

In my van, I’m sweeping multiple times a day and “mopping” (with a wet wipe because it’s such a small space and doesn’t warrant an actual mop) almost just as often.

If you use a material like sheet vinyl (like I did), you won’t have to worry about cracks for dirt to slip into. If you choose a plank floor then this may be a concern.

For what it’s worth, everyone I know personally who has installed plank flooring has regretted it in the long-term because, while easy to install, it does not hold up well and starts to look dirty and worn very quickly.

Weight and Thickness

Every vehicle comes with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). This is the maximum weight the vehicle can be and still be safely operated. It includes the weight of the van, everything in it, and everything you’re towing. Every van builder should know what their GVWR is.

If you’re worried your total build will be close to the GVWR you’ll want to find lightweight solutions wherever possible, starting with your flooring choice.

Thickness is an additional consideration, especially if you are tall and require head clearance in your van. The thicker the flooring (and ceiling) materials you use are, the less interior clearance you’ll have.

Repairs

How easy is it to fix your van flooring in the future? Can you simply patch one spot or plank, or will it require you to redo the entire floor?

7 Van Floor Ideas

1. Vinyl Sheet Flooring

Vinyl sheet flooring in a van is a good option for waterproofing and easy maintenance. It comes in many different colors and patterns to match your esthetics. 

Additionally, it’s easy to find at most hardware stores (typically sold from big rolls cut to your dimensions). Best of all, it’s inexpensive. Typically, vinyl sheet flooring costs $0.66-$1.50 per square foot.

I installed vinyl sheet flooring in my van and have been happy with it. While it looks like plank flooring, it’s actually one large sheet with no seams. This makes it waterproof, which was my primary goal. 

For this reason, I also chose to install my van flooring wall-to-wall vs just where it’s visible. It runs under my cabinets and bench seat so that if anything ever spills those areas are protected as well.

Because this is one sheet of flooring it requires a bit more work to install. You’ll need a good template because you’ll be cutting one large section. Plank flooring can be a bit easier because you’re working with small sections at a time and can make adjustments as you go.

Additionally, you want to purchase the adhesive material recommended by the sheet vinyl manufacturer and have something heavy to roll out the air bubbles with. If air is not removed during the installation process it causes bubbles in the flooring, and depending on how matte or shiny your topfloor material is, these imperfections can be very visible.

Pros:
✅ Completely waterproof
✅ Affordable
✅ Easy to install
✅ Available in lots of colors and styles

Cons:
❌ Installed with glue, making future changes difficult
❌ Can’t spot repair

2. Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)

Luxury vinyl planks, also referred to as LVP, are a good option for a budget friendly floor and are easy to install.

They come in many colors. It’s also possible to find remnant pieces or leftover material at your local hardware stores, Habitat for Humanity ReStore or other secondhand retailers.

Because you install one plank at a time, it’s fairly easy to install LVP. Most of it is considered floating, which means it clicks together and is held in place by gravity, not adhesive.

Floating floors are much easier to repair because one plank can be lifted out and replaced. However, because there are seams, it’s more likely to have water damage underneath. Some brands have waterproof seams, so if this is important to you make sure you look for those materials.

Pros:
✅ Available in lots of colors and styles
✅ Affordable
✅ Easy to install
✅ Easy to make spot repairs

Cons:
❌ May not be waterproof
❌ Complaints of fur and dirt getting trapped in seams

3. Laminate Van Flooring

Laminate and vinyl flooring are often confused with each other, but there are a few important differences.

Primarily, laminate flooring is made with wood byproducts, which means it is not waterproof. Vinyl is a fully synthetic material and as a result, is fully waterproof.

Laminate flooring tends to have a more realistic look for wood and stone or tile patterns. It requires dry mopping or sweeping to clean because it is not waterproof. 

If you have pets, a laminate van floor may not be best. Vinyl has better scratch-resistant properties, and is easier to clean.

Pros:
✅ Available in lots of colors and styles
✅ Affordable
✅ Easy to install

Cons:
❌ Not waterproof
❌ Not pet friendly
❌ Harder to clean

4. Marine Vinyl Woven Flooring

Marine vinyl can be a fantastic option for van flooring. It is similar to regular vinyl flooring, except with some added features including UV resistance and antifungal and antibacterial additives which make it mildew resistant.

Of course, these added features also mean it’s more expensive than standard vinyl flooring. However, keep in mind that the marine-grade label does not necessarily mean it’s a better material than a standard vinyl, it simply means it has UV and mold resistant properties.

The primary application for woven vinyl flooring is on boats. While it’s fairly easy to clean, it does require soap and water, which can be tricky to manage inside a van.

However, if you’re looking for a stain-resistant, hard-wearing van flooring that’s slip resistant and has a cozier feel than the other options on this list, marine vinyl woven flooring may be worth the tradeoffs.

Pros:
✅ Mold and mildew resistant
✅ Durable
✅ Stain resistant
✅ UV resistant and won’t fade in sunlight

Cons:
❌ Expensive
❌ Hard to clean
❌ Harder to install

5. Cork Van Flooring

Cork is a great sustainable option for van floors. It’s renewable and non-toxic. Additionally, it has sound deadening and insulating properties.

Due to its antimicrobial properties, Cork is also bug and mold resistant. Unfortunately, it’s one of the more expensive van flooring options.

It is fairly durable, but does require ongoing maintenance – resealing every 1-3 years.

Pros:
✅ Durable
✅ Insulating
✅ Sound deadening
✅ Bug resistant
✅ Mold resistant
✅ Sustainable and non-toxic

Cons:
❌ Must be sealed to prevent damage
❌ Ongoing upkeep (bi-annual resealing)
❌ Expensive

6. Rubber Vinyl Flooring

Rubber flooring in a van is fairly common, especially in the garage and storage sections. It’s incredibly durable and easy to clean.

Sometimes rubber flooring is also referred to as coin flooring (given its name because of the coin-sized pattern).

In addition to being durable and waterproof, rubber flooring is also fairly affordable and relatively easy to install. The biggest drawback to rubber flooring in a van is the weight as it’s one of the heavier van flooring options.

Pros:
✅ Durable
✅ Completely waterproof
✅ Affordable
✅ Easy to install

Cons:
❌ Heavy

7. Bamboo Hardwood

When considering real hardwood flooring in a van, Bamboo hardware is the best option. Not only is it a sustainable option, but it’s also very durable.

In fact, Bamboo hardwood is such a durable flooring option I installed it in my condo – it’s held up great to my dog’s bad habit of having zoomies in the house.

However, part of the durability of bamboo comes from its density, which also means it’s a heavier van flooring option.

Overall, real hardwoods aren’t ideal for van life, but if you’re set on this option then consider bamboo.

Pros:
✅ Durable
✅ Sustainable

Cons:
❌ Not moisture resistant
❌ Heavy
❌ Expensive

FAQ’s – Van Flooring

What is the best flooring for a van?

Vinyl sheet flooring or rubber vinyl flooring are the best flooring for a van. They’re both affordable, extremely durable, and easy to keep clean.

Is vinyl or laminate flooring better for a van?

Vinyl flooring is better than laminate flooring in a van because it is waterproof. Vinyl is synthetic and fully waterproof whereas laminate is made from wood byproducts and can absorb water.

What is the cheapest van flooring?

The cheapest van flooring is vinyl sheet flooring, or remnant scraps from a secondhand store or hardware store.

What is the best material for a work van floor?

The best material for a work van floor is rubber vinyl flooring. It’s highly durable, inexpensive and easy to maintain. Additionally, it’s skid resistant, which is important for working environments. It’s important to install a proper subfloor too. Suitable options include marine-grade plywood or Rainier flooring.

Recap – The Best Van Flooring Ideas

  1. Vinyl Sheet Flooring
  2. Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
  3. Laminate Van Flooring
  4. Marine Vinyl Woven Flooring
  5. Cork Van Flooring
  6. Rubber Vinyl Flooring
  7. Bamboo Hardwood

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