Having carpeted two vans three times (the first attempt was pretty poor) I’m reviewing my experiences to prepare myself for the forthcoming conversion of our most expensive van yet. Hopefully it will also be useful to others on the forum.
Sourcing your carpet
Buy from MegaVanMats and get the super stretchy stuff. Yes, there are more limited colours but as this is your first time the job will look better once done. In the past they have done an awesome semi-perforated vinyl which you can use for the roof. They also provide a neat little guide to carpeting your van.
Helping Hands and Cutting the Carpet.
B&Q sell a cheap plastic spring clamp set for under a tenner – get some for holding the carpet while you measure it up; consider your options; cut to size; or get it stuck down. I used them to clamp the top edge of the carpet in place alongside the edge of the roof line so I could get the rough length right and shape right.
Also make sure you have a good strong stanley knife and some new super sharp blades. This means you can push hard to cut the carpet easily and the blade will slice through the carpet easily. Don’t be afraid to replace them often if they become blunt.
Use enough glue but not too much and make sure it goes on even otherwise you can get bleed through. Spray both sides and let it go off slightly.
Getting a good finish
Cut the carpet as a last resort. Although more wasteful I used 10M on a SWB and was able to use a M-shape for the sides and use the pieces cut out and the left-overs for the other panels. I created a rough M shape and then trimmed to the edges. Don’t leave too much extra as it just gets in the way at a later date. Other than the edges you should not need to cut the carpet for any corners. I found that with strong thumbs I could roll the inner corner over and stretch it enough to fit. Then I would cut lines radiating outwards from the middle of the corner but leaving a gap before the edge – kind of like in this drawing. You can use the same method for an outer corner.
The following gallery shows how I cover the ply panels and get what I think is a good finish. Carpet 1: I start by making sure that the carpet is big enough and gives me a decent amount of overlap. Anything less than an inch is likely to cause difficulties. At this point I would have also sanded the edges and prepped the panel so the glue has a good chance of sticking. Carpet 2: If you are planning on screwing your board into the van (recommended) then mark the old screw holes with long pencil arrows. This will help you find them later when you have covered the edges. Carpet 3: From a distance of about a foot spray a good amount of glue onto the panel. I tend to look for a uniform white translucent sheen and avoid letting the glue build up to thick. Carpet 4: Now place your carpet (with the right side up) onto the panel and smooth out any wrinkles. Quickly check for even edges around the sides. Carpet 5: Flip the board over and pull/smooth/roll the carpet over the edge to get a nice tight finish. Now with the carpet side down, run spray glue carefully around the edges trying to get a strip of about 1.5″ which is 50/50 on the carpet edge and the plywood. Now fold and stick down all those edges onto the back of the board. Carpet 6: Now pull the corners over leaving little tags as shown. You should be able to stretch the carpet enough to get a flat 5mm on the inside of the board so once installed into the van you won’t see any wood on the corners. Carpet 7: Now cut just one side of the flaps. Carpet 8: Then the other side in such a way as to close the gap and allow the carpet to lie flat. Carpet 9: The last thing I do is run my knife around the edge to even up the back of the board so that looks neat too. Carpet 10: Job done!