Updated: May 20
Before you can fit ply panels you need to make sure that you are buying the best ply for the finish you are after. There are four main types of ply panels you can have in your van. We reccomend ply between 3-6mm.
Trade ply- These ply panels have one real purpose and it is to protect the metalwork and any cabling. They are typically 6mm ply and although they are practical they don't always give a professional and neat finish.
Factory ply- These, as the name suggests are the ply kits that come with the van from the factory. These are almost always held in with the plastic clips. These can be reused and carpeted a lot of the time but are sometimes damaged if the van is second hand.
camper/day van interior panels- These are the CNC cut panels that are built for the van and will fit the contours of the van.
Custom ply- For some vans, there are not currently camper/day van interior panels available. Vans such as the Vivaro's and larger vehicles which are not VW or Mercedes do not have the range available. In this case, you will have to custom make the panels.
Fitting ply panels in your camper van
The van we are using as the example is a VW T4 and for this make and model, we were able to buy a ply lining kit. We get ours from Custom Shop Design.
Step one- Remove any old brackets and fixings
Before you can start installing your new ply lining you need to make sure the surface is flat, remove any old screws or brackets which are in the metalwork.
Helpful hint- If the screw has snapped the easiest way to remove them is with a pair of mole grips. Tighten the grips onto the screw and turn it anti-clockwise, the application of WD40 will also help.
Step two- Ply panel mockup
Once you are happy with how the interior of the van is looking you will need to mock up the ply panels. Now, although they are specifically cut to fit your van we find nine times out of ten they will need a little modifying.
Start by putting the panel loosely up against the part of the van it will be applied to. You then want to push it into its place and make sure that it fits flush. If it doesn't then have a permanent marker and mark the area that needs cutting.
Helpful hint- When reducing panel sizes always start small, take no more than 1cm or 2cm off at a time. You can always cut more off but is more difficult to add it back if too much is removed.
Step three- Marking the fixing points
Next, you need to draw around the panel when its in its final position. You can then remove the panel and put it to the side once you've finished this.
Then once the panel is out of the way you can see where to fix your panel. you want to mark the flat areas spaced evenly around the panel. Fix the panel in any points in the middle as well as if you do not do this it will rattle when driving.
Make sure that your markings will still be visible once the panel is put in place. Do this by marking over and across the outline you made earlier. Next to each line measure and then write the distance that you are going to drill into the panel. This will give you an accurate place to drill once the panel is in place.
Only drill into the areas that protrude into the van and do not drill into any outer layers of metal. Always check that the area you are drilling into is free from cables or any other obstructions, if you are not sure if it is safe to drill into the area then find another fixing point.
Helpful hint- Avoid drilling into double layers of metal, if you can't avoid this then use a 3mm drill bit, if you use a 2mm drill bit for double layers of metal it will snap or the screw its self may snap. For all single layers of metal, a 2mm metal drill bit will work perfectly.
Step four- drilling and fixing
Once you are happy with the markings put your ply panel in its mock-up position. then mark on the ply panel where you have drawn your lines and follow your measurements. Using a 2mm drill bit, drill through both the panel and metal. Once you have done this screw in a countersunk screw.
Helpful hint- final fit a screw into the hole as soon as you've drilled the hole. Do not drill all the holes and then fit the screws as they may not line up with this method. This is because when your fix the screw it will pull and move the ply panel.