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A Complete Guide to Campervan Cladding

Campervan cladding; The single step that takes your van from nothing to something. Cladding a van is definitely an emotionally rewarding process. In this article we will learn everything about campervan cladding: from the roof to the campervan wall panels. We will look at how to clad awkwards places like the side and back doors as well as how to build a campervan floor. We will also look at how to install campervan carpet.

I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, the van conversion instructor at Udemy, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and learn about campervan cladding!

Campervan cladding: complete guide

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Campervan Cladding vs. Plywood

Broadly speaking, there are two options you can use for panelling the walls and roof of your campervan: cladding or plywood.


Cladding a campervan gives a more rustic look than ply lining. It takes longer to install (and costs a little more), but is well worth the effort for the superb finish.

Campervan cladding

There are many different styles of cladding, including clapboard, dutch lap. beaded lap, shiplap, and the list goes on and on...

For van conversions, most people choose to go with tongue & groove. It is easy to get hold of and easy to install. The cladding just pops together.

Types of campervan cladding

Ply lining

A ply lined panelling typically gives a more modern feel. It is normally quicker and cheaper to install than cladding.


There are four grades of plywood: A, B, C, and D. In that order, they go from the highest quality to the lowest quality. Lower grades than A will start to have some knots / point of weakness.

'Marine plywood' is considered to be of very high grade - it is cross-laminated (each ply is perpendicular to the last) making it capable of withstanding the elements better.

Number of ply:

Plywood consists of veneers of wood that are glued together.

3-ply is the most common for campervan wall panels.

Number of ply campervan


People often opt to use decorative plywood (also known as veneered or furniture plywood) for campervan wall panels. This gives a finish that looks great and provides a lot of resistance to wear and tear. It typically has a glossy texture. It is the standard in professionally built campervans and caravans.

Campervan veneer plywood

If you choose to use regular plywood over decorative plywood, make sure you finish the wood to protect it! Typically this is done with paint.

A great benefit of ply lining a van (particularly with decorative plywood) is that it acts as moisture barrier - a protective layer to keep your sacred insulation dry! You can read all about insulation and moisture barriers here.

NOTE: Do not use MDF or particle board for ply lining a campervan. They are brittle, heavy, and susceptible to moisture.

Other types of campervan cladding

Tongue and groove cladding or ply lining are the two most common techniques employed in van conversions. However self-builds are all about creativity! With that in mind...

Scrap wood / Pallet wood

Some people opt to panel their van using scrap wood or pallet wood. I salute thee. However you must beware with this method!

This type of wood typically has a high moisture content and will warp over time as it dries. This can frequently lead to cracks in the wood appearing, particularly if there is a cross batten restricting movement.

pallet wood warping

Scrap wood or pallet wood also tends to be very heavy, something not to be overlooked when building a campervan.

The final word of caution is that scrapwood can frequently contain wood worm, the wood-eating larva of many species of beetle.

Wood worm

However, if you manage to avoid the pitfalls above, a scrap wood van can give a very bohemian look.