Panelling the walls of the bus is a huge job; we used 4 by 8 foot 5mm superior external grade plywood. This was £30 a sheet which we didn’t realise until after we received the bill!!! We switched to a much cheaper 6mm Malaysian ply for the internal walls (do not use the Chinese we learnt that the hard way) this cost £ 12 a sheet.
Triple checking the measurements is essential at this stage, remember unlike a house a bus or van floor is not always level, therefore it can be hard to find right angles to measure from. Our floor had a 3 cm bow in the middle, and having not sorting this out at the floor laying stage we were unable to make anything outside of the van as every measurement had to be tailored to take into consideration this bowing. This added on weeks to our build.
Our bus had straight walls then a 45 degree angle panel before reaching the ceiling. Therefore when cutting the panels you want to allow them to join up at the right angle as this will be easier to fill in with filler at a later stage.
It took 3 of us to cut the larger wall and ceiling panels with a circular saw. Once each piece was cut, we checked if it fit in the bus well, then we did 3 under coats of white primer. We wanted to achieve a beach like interior so we decided to router long vertical lines into the plywood to achieve a Shiplapthe effect. We used a v groove router bit to achieve this effect. This was difficult to achieve as the router kept jumping about, we had to secure runners into place using clamps for the router to move along for each line that we did! It was very time consuming but the effect in the end is very good.
We drilled the panels in using a countersink drill bit to ensure the screws will be hidden when you fill over them at a later stage. You want to ensure you are drilling them onto the wooden frame behind using 16 mm screws. We found that in some areas our insulation was too thick and we had to slice some of it away using kitchen knives, so try to ensure that your wooden framing is thicker than your insulation so that the panels sit flush against it.
Essential Equipment for this stage: large sheets of plywood, measuring tape, circular saw, right angle large ruler, jigsaw, router, clamps, drill, screws