Introduction and my first question

Hey All!

I finally got myself a van a few days ago–2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500 SHC–and am excited to soon join the van life community! I’ve been wanting to get into van life for several years now after having lived a good chunk of my last 2 college semesters sleeping in my Subaru. Things finally worked out for me and gave me a good opportunity to take the leap. I’ve started the gutting/cleaning process while I figure out my layout and I’ve got one question so far. The van has the original flooring in the cargo space. It’s in seemingly great condition (was covered by carpet it’s entire life), is about 3/4" thick, made from some type of composite material (not wood), and is riveted to the floor. I’m trying to decide if I should drill the rivets out and remove the flooring to add my own insulation/flooring, or if anyone has enough knowledge to know if the flooring would provide enough insulation and I could just slap a vinyl (or other) flooring over top of it. If it wasn’t riveted I’d unscrew that sucker right away just to look underneath, but since rivets aren’t something I have the ability to replace it’s gotta be a permanent decision. Thanks in advance to any suggestions and I look forward to being a part of the community!

Greetings & Welcome!

If this is a passenger van, DON’T GUT IT!!! Keep the floor, walls, & ceiling intact if at all possible. You will never improve on it’s efficiency, and only devalue the van. Keeping them will save you a ton of work and money, and in the end your van will be worth more and be more efficient.

Move your new interior in, then secure it, rather than building it in. It’s easier, cheaper, and more efficient. By keeping everything modular & portable, it is also easier to change your layout later. If it has opening windows in the cabin area, there is no need for roof vents either, and a cheap fan will be much more efficient and avoid the possibility of roof leaks.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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Thanks for the response! It’s not a passenger, it’s a cargo van. The carpet was just standard carpet that was laid over top of the original flooring and cut to the shape of the van. Other than that and the thin, corrugated plastic panels it’s already bare inside. Main reason I was asking about the floor is because I have no idea what kind of material it’s actually made out of and if it’s a decent insulator or not (winter is coming).

There are no windows that open. As for airflow without a roof vent, do you know of any other suggestions since I have no opening windows?

Add windows, it’ll be good for you and the plants you buy later.

I would doubt the original stuff is great insulation. in my experience, in the cargo vans, it’s only insulated on the floor in the front to kill the heat the motor makes. We have our floor insulated with wool, covered with 3/4 inch ply and then vinyl on top of that and then typically some type of throw rug on top of that.

It’s still cold on the feet on top of the vinyl parts, even with the heat on. You gotta remember cold air sinks and there is nothing underneath the van at all. If you decide to try vinyl, go with something that is a singular piece. The planks have a tendency to separate. Good luck!

Thanks! I ordered some Havelock wool insulation. I may have enough left over to insulate the floor and if I do I’ll probably remove it and go that route. If not I’m thinking of using the Etrak to make my installations removable and putting a layer of Reflectix and decent carpet or something down temporarily and then come back later to fully insulate floor. Any suggestions on windows or where to get them?

We used the havelock wool and we had a lot left over, not sure what you bought. We didn’t do the cab. Probably should have but I didn’t want to rip the doors and everything apart to do it for what little bit you get out of it being there is so much bare metal there.

I wouldn’t put reflectix anywhere it can get squished. All the bubbles will just end up popping. I’m actually on the fence about reflectix. It’s great for windows but I think it makes crappy insulation for anything else.

I don’t have any suggestions on windows. Ours our from motion windows, but I don’t know if they are cheap, expensive, etc. I would recommend making sure they open, have screens, and also that the screens can be removed. These ones at least the 36x10 sliders do.


If it’s like a heavy felt, it’s insulation, if it’s solid, it will at least give you a flat floor to start with, so I’d still keep it, but add foam insulation sheets over it.

You can get a 12v 10" or so fan, or use a radiator fan, and build a box for it. Then add directional piping or ducting into the box to direct the airflow where your want it. Then you can use a front window. I have a similar setup for my swamp cooler. Coming out of the box is a 4" PVC pipe with 2 elbows on it which are not glued. The elbows allow the airflow to be directed either left or right, as well as up or down. It feels like a strong breeze clear to the back of my van. In your case, if aimed towards the back, the airflow would make a loop and exit out the opposite front window. I have opening back windows so mine normally only goes one way, but I know first hand that making the loop works well too.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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