Wood paneling thickness

Hey all, I’m converting a small van (Toyota Hiace). Bought some 1/4" cedar tongue and groove boards which look great but the joints are fragile (even just handling the boards). Wondering if the joints won’t break on a slightly curving wall, especially when someone leans or sits against it. Seems like framing studs wouldn’t give even enough support, so I’m considering stiff 1/4" plywood board as backing instead. It’s a small van so I’m really trying to minimize thickness when possible. Would shiplap be better (for example) or should I start considering thicker backing or boards? Thanks in advance!

We used 5/16 that they have at Lowe’s and a I think a million people have used. Ours hasn’t broke but there are a few places I feel like I could push through it, but why would one do that? Anger, slip and fall? It’s been good and we haven’t had issues.

You could do some thin ply behind or put in a lot of studs. I wish we had a few more studs. Only though because it would make hanging things easier in certain places.

Shiplap might not bend as well and is considerably heavier, which is also a concern. Still where we have studs 14 inches or so apart we have no issue leaning against it.

You may have issues with the cedar cracking though if you don’t use a brad nailer when you fasten it. Try it out of the van first and see if that’s an issue.

Cedar turns grey with age if you don’t seal it so be sure to do both sides before putting it up. Good luck!

Thanks! I’m going to try putting thin ply behind. By the way, I did get my boards at Lowe’s as well… Design-Innovations-3-5-in-x-8-ft-Natural-Cedar-Tongue-and-Groove-Wall-Plank (sorry, can’t add a full link). Is that the kind you meant? I noticed it had an unexpected smell when I unpacked it, and it turns out it’s “chinese cedar.”

This is what I believed we used.


From that link you posted it says it’s pacific cedar. This was more expensive than we expected as a pile of boards were broke or bent on package. Save all of them to take them back if you can make a full pack.

Same wood. I did some research and apparently it’s a Chinese wood that shares some properties with cedar, but isn’t actually cedar. Some douche-y marketer probably decided to rebrand it as a type of cedar, and Pacific is easy to misinterpret as Pacific Northwest (where actual cedar lives) rather than the other side of that ocean.


That’s funny as heck… Chinese Cedar vs. Pacific Cedar, the only question is which side of the Pacific… hehe


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Hi guys,

I used 9mm Russian Birch ( not sure what the equivilant is in the states) for the walls so it would bend (took effort to get it to bend but worth it because I can screw things ontothe wall now, and 1,5cm Russian Birch for the floor so it could get abused without fear of damage. The side thickness was worth it as extra insulation and ability to fasten things to it I thnk.

oh yeah, I used cross beams that I hamered down the middle of the boards to bend them and hold them in place until I screwd it into the frame.


There are many types of thin, light weight, flexible, and waterproof house & shower panels available, including wood grain. I’m a huge supporter of moisture proof paneling for the walls & ceilings in campers.


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