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Old 02-06-2011, 02:01 PM
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Subfloor in a Van Interior - Yes or No?

I'm getting ready to do the interior of a 1980 Ford Super Club Wagon, and the floor is to be carpeted from stem to stern. In doing some research for this project, I've learned that back in the day, it was roughly a 50/50 split on whether or not a plywood subfloor was used in the cargo area.

Some customizers glued 2" open cell foam to the metal floor for padding, and just carpeted over that by using tack strip, which was screwed down around the perimeter of the floor. Others cut strips of 1/2 inch high density foam and glued them into the valleys between the ribs in the floor, then a layer of 1/2 inch re-bond for padding was laid over that, then the carpet was laid, again using tack strip around the perimeter.

The customizers who used a subfloor just padded it with re-bond and carpeted over it, gluing the carpet to the padding, and stapling the edges of the carpet to the subfloor along the edges.

Anyone here have any experience in van interiors? Have an opinion on using a subfloor vs. not using a subfloor? All of this is assuming the van's floor is in good condition (which it is,) all the holes are welded shut or otherwise sealed, of course (which they will be,) and the floor is painted to help prevent rust (which it will be.) I don't know if it matters or not, but there will be some cabinetry and a bed platform installed over the carpet.

All things being equal, would you/have you use(d) a subfloor? Any tips or tricks for using either method? Any advice on using/not using either method?

Any/all input will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:53 PM
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I always used a subfloor of 1/4 inch ply..made my life much easier to have that to glue and fasten cabinets and flooring materials..i never used tack strip in any installations but used glue and staples..I also used door skin for my headliner and walls to attach the carpet or fabric to..there are some metal trim edges you can use or make a sort of welting for a trim edge.. depends on your skills and desires in that area..

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Old 02-06-2011, 04:02 PM
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I'm lucky in two regards - first, it's a Club Wagon, so the sides are about half window and window trim panel. Second, all of the original wall panels, door panels, trim panels, and the headliner are there, so I don't have to invent anything.

This van also has the rear heater option, so about half of the driver's side is a huge plastic panel that covers all the duct work.

Here are a couple of shots of what's there now. The side panels are all there, the huge, thick plastic window trim panels are all there, and the headliner is mostly intact. One of the three bench seats is still there, but that's going to go away (as will that unnecessary arm rest in the rear,) in favor of another pair of captain's chairs on swiveling pedestals. All in all, to finish the complete interior (front and rear) it needs a few missing screws, a door handle for the sliding side door, a pair of armrests for the front doors, paint, carpet, and new fabrics.

I'll most likely get some PVC foam board to make new wall/door panels. I'm debating on making a new stock headliner (bow type) or going with a rigid headliner. The window trim panels on the sides cover a huge amount of the area where the wall meets the roof, so I have a lot to play with as far as that's concerned.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:51 AM
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Yes, you should put in a sub floor and attach the padding and carpet to that.
This is also a perfect place to put in a hard headliner, assuming there are struts that go across the roof to attach a 1/4" luan base to. Then you would attach your headliner panels to the plywood base by gluing them with Top and Trim contact adhesive.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:10 AM
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I'm thinking seriously about doing a hard headliner. Those huge trim panels around the perimeter are perfect for it. With the sizes involved, I'm thinking a 3 piece panel - 2 separate sides and a center panel of a different material. I'll also have to use PVC foam board because I can't find waterproof panel board long enough here locally. I do have a local supplier of Komatex. Only thing I'm not sure about is that I haven't done very complex curves with it yet. There are only a couple of compound corners, but they're right up front where they're sure to be seen. Oh well - some careful use of the heat gun and playing with it and I should be able to get it.

Thanks for the advice. It looks like a sub floor is the way I'll go.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:56 AM
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You don't need to go right up to the edges of the roof, in fact you really don't want to do that. Stay back about 6" all the way around by sewing the fabric down to the foamboard and pull the loose fabric to the edges under where the trim moldings attach.
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