MiniVan Build Questions


I’m currently on the hunt for a minivan to convert for part time adventuring. I’ve watched many videos and searched around the internet for minivan specific build resources but I have one question/element I haven’t been able to find much info on.

The two main types of builds I’ve seen include leaving the interior of the van intact with no added insulation and then builds that gut the plastic panelling from the inside of the van but don’t refinish it.

My question is is it possible to remove the plastic paneling from the back of a minivan, insulate, and refinish it so it’s esthetically pleasing and not a bunch of exposed insulation or van framework.

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I’m in the camp that says if it comes with a finished interior, it should be kept intact, and only the seats removed.

Passenger vehicles are designed to be both easily heated and cooled from the factory. We typically do so every time we drive them.

Passenger vehicles are also designed to handle moisture problems and prevent mold. Moisture is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome, and condensation can not be prevented or eliminated with the current metal or fiberglass skinned vehicles. Insulation tends to hide and/or trap moisture, which is the exact opposite of what we want or need, and since we need nearly constant ventilation to keep both ourselves and our vehicles healthy, insulation is of limited and questionable value at best.

I’m frequently an extreme weather camper, this winter it has gotten down to -57f degrees. Even with the needed constant ventilation, I was able to keep my van in the 70’s with no added insulation, and not insulating the windows either. All it takes is enough dry heat. Insulation does not provide either heating or cooling power, it only slightly slows the inevitable. Only enough heating or cooling power actually works, with or without insulation, to keep you comfortable. If it’s either hot or cold enough that you think you need insulation, insulation alone isn’t enough.

Passenger vehicles are already designed to provide a quiet and comfortable ride, unlike cargo vans that need to be insulated for sound deadening purposes. That’s just one of the many reasons that passenger vehicles make the best campers. Opening windows also eliminate the need for roof vents and provide better ventilation for much cheaper. With opening windows, a $20 fan can provide better ventilation than a $200+ roof vent.


"Just because everybody's doing it, doesn't make it right." ~ THOW (Tiny Home On Wheels)

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Hey there!

I am about to publish an article about how to pick the right van on my website,

I completely agree with Van_Dweller but I would add that removing the interior of a previously insulated vehicle and beefing it up is totally worth it. Pulling the floor up to add a layer of insulation will make more of a difference than you think. The best thing that you can do for your build is to over insulate. Once you add in the main fixtures like the bed or kitchen area you cannot go back and add insulation unless you plan to add it later in which you should have just done it in the beginning.

I added cedar paneling over all insulation in my build to help with sound, humidity, longevity, and more insulation. It was cheap, easy to work it, and the resources are readily available

Also, add in all electrical wiring after insulation and before the walls. Something I wish someone would have told me.

Message me directly if you have any questions or want to see how I did mine!!

Good luck