I toiled for weeks trying to figure out what the heck to do with the bulkhead in my van! After considering all my options, I decided that some van bulkhead storage would be the most effective use of space. However, even after making this decision, things didn't get easier - it's an awkward space in which to build! But eventually I had built some beautiful cupboards. In this illustrated guide I will show you how to build van bulkhead storage!
In our 2023 study, we found that 54% of vans have bulkhead storage installed.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
So let's jump in and learn about van bulkhead storage.
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Design the bulkhead storage first
Before hopping into building campervan storage, it is essential that you mock it up on paper or with CAD software first! Here is a full guide on campervan design that will help you get started. I highly recommend Vanspace3D for designing your campervan interior - it's an awesome drag n' drop CAD tool specifically for van conversions.
How to Build Van Bulkhead Storage
In a van the bulkhead is the awkwardly-shaped cavity above where the driver sits. It is a large area and the best use is certainly van bulkhead storage! So let's look at how to do that!
Step #1: Insulate the bulkhead
If I were to do it again: If I were to go back, I would have glued some wooden furring beams to the roof of the bulkhead using an adhesive glue (Sikaflex or similar). I would have then insulated between the furring. This would have allowed me to ply-line the roof.
Instead, I installed a vapour barrier (reflectix) on top of the insulation and stuck autocarpet directly onto the vapour barrier.
Step #2: Install the base
Next, cut some lengths of 1X1 timber and glue it to the base of the van bulkhead storage using Sikaflex. This will form the base furring. Let this dry for a few hours with a weight pressed on them.
Add some insulation (Board / Wool) in between the furrings and then cover the insulation and furrings with a layer of reflectix which will act as a vapour barrier.
Finally, cut a piece of a plywood to fit the shape of the base of the van bulkhead storage. Screw it down into the wooden furring.
Step #3: Install side, centre and base support furrings
The next step is to install side and base support. I screwed the side support on each side directly into the metal of the van with self-drilling screws. The base support was screwed into the plywood/base furring.
Then install a centre support furring (important for the door we will be building). This is screwed in using pocket hole screws (kreg screws). The bottom screws into the base support, the top screws into a roof furring (which was installed when we cladded the roof). If you don't have a piece of roof furring handy like I did, you will need to install one!
Step #4: Install a door
I built two swinging doors using lengths of tongue and groove cladding.
First slot the lengths of tongue and groove together. Then screw two horizontal lengths of tongue and groove into the back to hold them together. You will need to use very small screws here (Less than 20mm).
The final step of your van bulkhead storage is to install some stripwood (narrow decorative timber) around the edges of each door. This is purely decorative, but makes them look great!
I painted my doors white to make them pop and add some protection.
And there you have it folks, the complete build guide on how to build van bulkhead storage!
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,