Intro to Van Life: Step by Step Guide to Get You on the Road | Deanna Dunn | Skillshare

Intro to Van Life: Step by Step Guide to Get You on the Road

Deanna Dunn

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14 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Intro to Van Life

    • 2. Layout

    • 3. Budget

    • 4. Electrical

    • 5. Water System

    • 6. Toilet

    • 7. Design Aesthetic

    • 8. Cabinets

    • 9. Insulation

    • 10. Temperature Control

    • 11. Walls

    • 12. Shower

    • 13. Appliances

    • 14. Cushions

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About This Class

Course Resources: Click Here

Have you ever wondered what van life is like, how much a van conversion costs, how the electrical or plumbing systems work or what it takes to build one yourself? In this course, we give you all the resources and answers you need to start your van life journey!


1. Intro to Van Life : I'm James and I'm DnaA. And in this course we are answering all of the questions that you have about van life, from how much a ban conversion costs to what products we recommend and all of the options that you have for your van. Although in place over the last couple of years, van life has become increasingly more popularity to the freedom and unique lifestyle that it offers. Nothing beats being able to pull up and stain amazing destinations that are off the beaten path all while having the comforts of your own home with you. You might be interested in van life, but where to start when we're first starting our journey into van life, we had so many questions like, how much does a van conversion cost? How do we set up our solar electrical system and what are our Sharon bathroom options? And that's why we created this course to answer all the questions that you may have in this course, we go over the entire build process from picking the right layout, what materials should be used, some of the best appliances and designing your van, just to name a few. We've even included so many useful resources like a budget calculator, the dimensions of our layout, and a step-by-step order of your entire built. After taking this course, you'll understand the process of building a van, all of your options and where to start to get you on the road. Whether you're just curious and getting started or you're ready to jump right into van life. This course is for you will see inside. 2. Layout: In this video, we're going to be talking about how you'll be using your van so you know what you want to include in your build and how you want to lay it out. So before we get started, it is very important to establish how you'll be using the van. Get a general idea of how often you'll be using it and where you'll be going when you know these things, it will help you to determine your layout and what you want to include it. So for example, if you're using it just for quick weekend getaways, you might not want to take up the space to add an entire oven. But if you absolutely love baking and you'll be living in it full time, that might be something you'd consider adding when you're working with such a small space, you want to be very strategic with what you add in there. Because you want to make sure that you have enough space and storage to include what's most important to you. So here are a few things you want to determine. C, You could choose what man is best for you and what you want to include in your Van. Do you want to be able to still camp-like perky more public places without people knowing you're inside or will you mainly be staying at campgrounds? You'll wanna take the size of your Vanna and anything that can be seen from the outside into consideration. Do you want to rely on public places for things like showering or eating? Or do you want to be more off-grid and self-sustained in your van when you decide on a detailed layout of your band before you start any work, it's going to so much time from having to redo any projects or even make so many decisions as you go. So like we talked about earlier, knowing the lifestyle that you want to live while using this span will greatly determine how you want your layout to be. So let's talk about a few of the decisions that you'll have to make for your layout. First, let's talk about your bed. There are pros and cons of each layout, so I'll talk through a few those to help you decide what that setup is best for you. A fixed bed is when your bed is built-in and this often allows a large garage space to be accessed from the back of the band, or it even allows jurors are storage access from the inside. Some of the pros are you don't have to take the time to convert the bed twice a day. You can use a regular mantras. It allows for large storage underneath for a large things like bikes or gear. You can jump in and out of bed during the day, not just when it set up and you can use the bed and seating area at the same time. Some of the cons are less walkable square footage as smaller seating area, it blocks some of the view in your back doors are open and not as much of an open field. Now let's talk about a convertible bed. This is when you're seating area and or your table folds down into your bed area. Some of the pros are, you can see a lot more people and spread out a little bit. You have a larger view out of the back doors. You could set it up where you can walk through from the front all the way out the back and you have more options on how you can lay it out. Some of the cons are you have less storage space and it's more work to converted each time when you decide on what type of bed and seating area work best for you, you can also decide on the table options. Some popular ones are a lagoon table mount that allows you to swivel it all the way around. A telescope table that allows you to push it down or pull it up, or a pullout table that allows you to slide it away when you're not using it. Another big decision that you have to make is determining if you want an indoor or outdoor shower or even if you want to shower at all. And to help you determine this, I go into more detail in the shower section, another layout decision is having access to the cap. When we converted our first sprinter ban, it had the middle section open so we can pop back without having to get out of the car. And we loved the convenience when we bought our second band conversion or ProMaster, it came with a bench seat in the front and it didn't allow access the back from the CAB. So we changed it out to a solo seats so we can have access to the back and also added a swivel mount so that we'd have extra seating when it turned around. But some people might want the extra seat or the back Layout running a countertop across the back of the cab. Some people have even run the countertop behind and then built a flip up in the middle so that they'd be able to still go back and forth. And you always want to keep in mind reclining our front seats when you're planning your layout so that you're able to be comfortable during your long road trips. Now one of the most important things to remember when you're planning your layout is that storage is priceless in a small space. So anytime we are able to fit an extra storage, make a list of all the things that you want to travel with and plan ahead for where exactly you want to store it, whether it's bikes, outdoor toys, adult create additional seating or camping supplies, It is great to make storage specifically for those things. And when you get your van, you can even take off the walls and the floors to play your layout and see how it flows. You can even make mock cabinets and a bed out of cardboard boxes to get an idea of the space that you will have after you feel good about what you want to include and where you want to put everything. You'll need a plan out your electrical and plumbing to those areas. So in the next few videos, we'll be talking about how the electrical and plumbing systems work and what you'll need for them. 3. Budget : Alright, so let's get down to the numbers and talk about how much a van conversion cost. This is the number one question that I get asked. And the reason it's so difficult to answer is because the term van life doesn't just mean one thing. There are so many different kinds, years and conditions advance and there's so many things that you can put in a van or things that you can function without. So what we're gonna do is we're going to break down the cost of our band and give you a range for each part of the belt. If you were to do a basic and budget friendly one, or if you were to upgrade to the top of the line systems so you can get an idea of how much each part costs. First, let's talk about the van itself, depending on the year, mileage, and condition of the van will totally change the price. You can search around to get an idea of what the prices are looking like in your area to see what is the best fan you can get for your budget for our 2015 RAM ProMaster with 60 thousand miles in a 159 inch wheelbase, we paid $20 thousand. You can also get a brand new ban and have more peace of mind with everything working well for awhile. But you can also be way more budget friendly by buying an older van with a little higher miles. A great thing about these cargo vans is that they're very sturdy and they hold their value very well. For the van itself, I would budget anywhere from $8 thousand for an older van with higher miles and somewhere between 50 to $60 thousand for a new band. Now let's talk about the belt. When it comes to the budget of the bill, there are a few main factors that determine the final cost. Some of those are if you'll hire someone to help you with any parts of the build. If you have a shower in the bathroom, how big you want your electrical system to be, the kind of appliances you want, and the quality of the materials that you're using to give you a starting point. I broke down the cost of our van builds into sections in the budget calculator you can take away or add in some options to get an idea of the cost with what you'd like to include in your band. Then throughout this course, we'll go into more detail about each of these sections so you can understand each system better and see which option is best for you. So here's the breakdown for our electrical system. We wanted to make sure that we could run our appliances, lights, and water system without running out of power. We have 350 watts of solar to 200 Ambar batteries, a DC to DC charger, and a 3 thousand watt inverter. The total for our electrical system was around $2400. A very basic system could cost you around $500, and an upgraded system could cost you anywhere from six to $7 thousand and up for our kitchen area and appliances, which include our fridge, sink, cook top, and ice maker. We paid around $1000, but for just a basic sync fridge and cook top, you could probably do it for around 500. Our bathroom and water system with full-size shower, dry flush toilet, electric water pump, water heater, freshwater tank in gray water tank cost us around 10000, $850. In the shower section, we talk about some alternative options, so you can see those prices as well. Our bed and seating area, which included are cushions, table Table Mountain. Other materials totaled around $660 for our insulation, air conditioner and other temperature control, the total cost was around $2100 and our extra lumber finishes and other add ons like our projector and equipment was around $2 thousand. So the total cost of our van belt was around $3,100 after finishing the course, use the budget calculator to get an idea of what your van build will cost. As a general rule, it's always better to overestimate the cost because there's always unforeseen expenses. 4. Electrical: Alright, in this section we're going to be talking about how everything in a van as powered, we're going to break down the key components of the electrical system. And we're going to show you what is needed for you to do it yourself. Okay, so first I'm going to give you a general overview of the off-grid power system and a camper van. It all starts with a good battery. The 12-volt battery is the heart of the system. You can have just one battery or you can have multiple. Your battery is then used to run everything in your van like your lights, fridge, vent, fans, plugs, and any other accessories you may want to include. The next thing you need to do is keep those batteries charged up similar to your phone. So how did we do this? Well, in van life, there's three main ways to keep your batteries charged. The first is through solar panels, the second is through short power, and the third is using your car's alternator, either with a battery, the battery charger, or an isolator. So you have the option of doing either one or all three of these options when it comes to charging your batteries. So let's talk about the first and the most popular method, solar panels. Let's break down the basic solar concept for your van. For solar setup, you'll need your solar panels and solar charge controller and the proper wiring and fuses. So first you're going to want to install the solar panels on the roof of your fan. You're then going to want to wire the positive and negative wires directly into the solar charge controller, which then worked its magic and converts it into usable energy. And then your solar charge controller gets connected directly to your batteries. I like using the victor on solar charge controller, which has a built-in bluetooth monitoring feature. So I can see how much solar energy I'm bringing in, which is a really cool feature to have. The more solar panels you have, the quicker your batteries will charge back up. Now let's talk about the second way to charge your batteries, and that is with shore power. Adding shore power to your band is a great option if you plan on staying and camp sites or locations for a long period of time that provides power hookups. In order to add shore power, you will need to install a shore power charger, which will convert your regular a 120 volt power into 12-volt power to charge your batteries. They also make a battery combo charger slash inverter all in one device. You will need to install an inverter in your vanity plane, uninstalling regular household plugs into your van to run things like your laptop or a coffee machine. An inverter simply hooks up to the positive and negative terminals of your battery and converts the power from DC or topo power into AC power. If you plan on installing short power in your band, I would recommend getting the combo device so you don't have to install two separate components. I have included a list of the most popular chargers and inverters and the attachments below. Now let's talk about the third way to charge your batteries, and this is by using your vehicles alternator. The easiest way to do this is with a DC to DC battery charger. Now with a DC to DC battery charger, you simply hook it up to both the positive and negative wires from your vehicles battery directly into the charger on one end. And then at the other end of the charger, you hook it up to the batteries that you're trying to charge. You'll also need to hook up a small wire to your car's fuse in order to power the DC charger. We ended up going with our energies charger and are very happy with it. How quickly charges are batteries backup to a 100%. We would highly recommend adding both short power and a DC to DC charger as they will charge your system a lot faster than solar. And it's a great backup when there's not much sun available. Alright, like I promised, let's talk about the different types of batteries. There are many options when it comes to choosing the right batteries for your van. To keep it simple, I'm going to go over the two most popular options. First and probably the most popular option among van life is battle born lithium. Deep cycle batteries. Using lithium may cost more upfront, but because they are deep cycle, you can use up more of the battery without hurting them. And there's very little maintenance required. As opposed to the lead acid where you should not deplete the batteries past 50% and they require more care. The next option is a gel hybrid battery from energy. This is the option we ended up going with it as much more cost efficient and it also has a very low maintenance. Alright, the last thing I want to cover in this section is setting up your electrical system. Planning and installing your electrical system in your Van is one of the first things you'll want to do in the build because all of your wiring will be behind the walls and ceiling. You'll first want to create a master list of all your appliances and equipment and then figure out where everything is gonna go so you can start wiring. In order to protect your system, you'll need to install a fuse box and breakers in most of the positive wires, depending on what the equipment or components you're trying to hook up will determine your wire size. For example, if you're wiring lights the most likely to require a thinner wire, something around 12 to 14 gauge, and something like your inverter will require much thicker wires closer to a two or four game. As a general rule, you'll want to keep your wires as short and close to the battery as possible in order to maximize the current flowing through them. I have included a wire diagram with the appropriate wire size estimates that you can download below. So I know that this was a lot of information, but I promise you if you take it one step at a time, I'm confident you can do it. 5. Water System: In this section we're gonna be talking about the water system. We're first gonna go over how the whole water system works. And then we're going to show you the most popular options that you can use in your van. Having running water in your band makes showering, brushing your teeth, cleaning, cooking, and so many other things so much easier. They're more basic water systems and there's definitely more advanced ones. But first, let's go over how a water system works. First, it starts with a clean water source. This could be a large jug or a large tank mounted somewhere in your fan. Next, there's some type of pump, whether it's electric or manual, that'll suck the water through to either your faucet or your shower system. Once the water goes to the drain, it's emptied into what's called a grey water holding tanks where it can be later dumped at your convenience. When it comes to storing your water, there are two main options. The first are smaller water jugs that go directly under your sink. And the second is a larger tank that's mounted somewhere in or under your van. First, let's talk about the under the sink option. To use this setup, you'll need to jugs to fit under the sink area. The first one is for the clean water and the second one is for the water to drain into. You'll also need a pump the pump the water out of the clean jug. The jugs make it super easy to grab and fill up whenever you need to. You don't get as much water storage, but you can have multiple jugs to replace when one is empty. And the second way to store your water is in a larger tank, usually somewhere between 1030 gallons, located somewhere inside or outside underneath your van. Having a larger water tank is great for staying off the grid longer and is essential if you plan on including a shower. If you do choose to install your larger water tanks under the van, Keep in mind that if you plan on going where the temperatures are cooler, your water may freeze. Whether you plan on installing inside or outside the setup is pretty similar. Once you determine the location of your tank, The next step is to install the pumps, pipes, and water heater. If you plan on having one with the larger water tank, you're definitely gonna wanna get an electric pump. I highly recommend the sea flow pump because it turns on as soon as you open the valve and there's no need for a separate switch, you can see the exact one I recommend and the attached supplies list. So let's talk about the two most popular water heating systems. First is a propane gas tankless water heater, which uses propane to heat up the water on-demand. This option is great for saving power, but cannot be used inside the van because of the carbon monoxide buildup. This is great if you plan on showering outside of the band. And your other option is an electric water heater. Essentially, the water heater holds a certain amount of water, usually between 26 gallons and when you turn it on, it starts heating up the water inside of the tank. This is a great option for indoor showers. However, it does take up a lot more energy. So they want to keep that in mind when setting up your electrical system. The last thing I want to cover in this section is your gray water tank. Gray water tank holds the waste water from your shower or sink so you're able to dump it later in a responsible location, your gray water tank can either be installed inside or outside the van. If possible, I would recommend installing it under the van to make dumping that dirty water easier. You can even take it a step further and install a motorized ball valve that allows you to empty your ting from inside the van with a flick of a switch. I also included the ball valve we used in the supplies list. 6. Toilet: Welcome to the toilet section. This might not be the most glamorous action, but it's definitely an important one. In the past, minivan lifers have depended on Jim's gas stations and any other public restrooms more often. And while some of those are definitely still available, this is a convenience that has nice to have, especially for emergencies. Now, there are so many options to go to the bathroom, whether it just be going outside, going in a bucket with a bag, a funnel, a water bottle, or even leaning this one on a tighter. You can definitely get creative when you have to go. But I'll go over a few popular toilet options and show you some ways that you can store them in your van. First is a cassette toilet. A cassette toilet is installed over a small removable waste tank. When the tank is full, you take it out and DEA into a standard toilet and then place it back in your BAM. Next is a compost toilet. A composting toilet uses no water and works by separating liquids from solids into two different tanks. This separation helps keep odor to a minimum, especially because the solid tank uses PMOS or other composting material to help break it down. When the solid tanks are full, the solid tank can go into a composting bin or trash bin because it doesn't have any chemicals and the liquids can be diluted and poor down a sewer. And then there's the dry flush toilet. Everytime you quote unquote flush, the bowl collapses down and a twist is formed in the continuous feed of material above the waist, wrapping it and holding it sealed at the bottom of the container. This process of sealing off the waste and a barrier material similar to deeper Jeannie seals off the odor. Once the cycle is complete, a new bull is formed from the bagging material and the dry flesh is ready to be used again. Things you wanna take into consideration when deciding what toilet is best for you is how much cleaning you wanna do, the cost of the cartridges or the composting material and how eco-friendly you want to be. Some popular places people store them are in a larger shower where there's enough space to shower without taking it out in a smaller shower where it is taken out when the showers and use in a pullout drawer or in a flip up bench. Now this has been enough potty talk for now. Let's move on to the design and aesthetic of IR band. 7. Design Aesthetic: We talk a lot about the logistics of the band, how everything works and what does needed. But the decor of the van is just as important as the views that you see when you open those back doors. The textures at fabric colors and finishes are an expression of what the span means to you and who you want to be when you're travelling in it, when you take time to plan and research what design you'd like for your finance, it will have a much more purposeful, cohesive, and personal feel. Here are a few tips to choose a design that you love first, make a mood board, add rooms, fans, or anything that you love to see what specific features give it the look that you like. Look at the colors, textures, and styles of decor that make up the vibes that you're inspired by. So when you're choosing laws, ceiling, flooring cabinets, cushions of finishes referred to the NCBO boards. So you have that cohesive feel. Next, loosely define a style, whether it's minimal and simplistic, textured and cozy cabin or beach towels or somewhere in-between. You definitely don't have to stick to one style, but when you're trying to decide between a few finishes, thinking about which finished would go with the style that you chose will help you accomplish the design that you want. And if you're someone that their style tends to change often, you can always go more simplistic or more neutral with the base of your belt and then change it up with the core options. You can always change out your throw pillows or blankets, storage bins, planters, curr ends, or even your wall decor for our van, we knew we wanted to do a slotted ceiling, textured walls, came cabinets and hanging modern cushions, even though these were in traditional things that you'd find in a van or an RV. We are inspired enough to make them work in a van. We just added adjust how we would build them and take into account the movement in the band since we did the light pine wood on the ceiling of the van, I knew I wanted some contrast and spread out the different elements. So we decided to do our Florida same light would color since it would match the ceiling but spread out the color. Then anything that touches the next part of the van wasn't the same element. So we did white upper cabinets, but then did a pop of keen webbing, so it matched the pine wood but it wasn't right next to it. Then we did a warm gray on the walls that went down to the butcher block countertops out, made it pop. And then we used Sherwin Williams shade-grown green to paint the lower cabinets with. So take some time to make mood board, get inspired and most importantly, stick to what you love. 8. Cabinets: Your cabinets and what you'll use to store your supplies and all of your appliances and are a big part and what makes your band practical and easy to use? There are few options as far as cabinets go, you can make your own, hire somebody to make them for you, or buy cabinets that are prefabricated. Pre-fab cabinets might be a little more expensive, but can save time and energy in your built. They aren't as customizable as making your own, but there's a lot of options out there. And there are even companies that are starting to make cabinets specifically for bands. If you're down to make your own, it gives you the freedom and creativity to customize your cabinets for your specific layout. First, let's talk about the lower base cabinets. Before you start building them, you want to plan out everything that you want to include. You wanna make sure that you have space for your fridge, any other appliances where your outlets are gonna go and then how many doors you want if you're going to use what for the cabinets, I would recommend a three quarter-inch Baltic birch plywood or a cabinet grade pine plywood and sealing them with either cabinet grade p or another seal that will keep these durable and white bubble when it comes to constructing your cabinets, I found the easiest way to build them is to use pocket holes to attach the wood. Once you make all your pocket holes using a craig dig, it's very easy to screw them together. Next, you'll need to pick out the hardware for your cabinets. I recommend using conceal cages and adding the soft clothes to keep your doors from slamming shut. Craig also makes the jig for this, that makes adding the hinges so much easier. We added links for these jigs as well. Next, you'll need to pick your countertops. Remember you wanna keep everything as light as possible. So granite or any stone countertops are probably not the best idea. Sealed butcher block is a popular choice because of its durability and also how easy it is to cut to size. Also composite countertops with a laminate on top is a nice light option as well. Now let's talk about the upper cabinets. The upper cabinets get a little tricky to build because of the curves and the band. To get around this, you wanna make sure that you build the front of the uppers at a 90 degree angle so that you're hinges can work properly. Then you can scribe the backs to the angle of your van and cut the sides of the cabinets to that shape. 9. Insulation: In this section we're gonna be talking about insulating your ban. We're gonna go over all the different types of options and materials and will even show you how to insulate your windows before you add the insulation to your van, you may want to consider adding sound dampening pads. These pads are easy peel and stick that you essentially stick all over your van, your doors, walls, ceiling to help reduce the road noise in the van. When it comes to insulating your van, there are many methods and options on the matter. I'm going to explain to you the most popular options. First, let's talk about insulating the floors. For the floors, you're going to want to use a foam board insulation around half an inch thick. You can either put the foam board directly on top of your existing floor if it's in good condition or you can rip out your old floor lady insulation down, then put some type of base plywood floor back on top of that. Then layer flooring, adding the insulation on the floor will take a little bit of the headroom away, but it's worth it on those cold nights. The next thing you will need to insulate our your walls. There are three main types of insulation you can choose from when doing your walls. The first is a high R value foam board. If you go this route, you just have to make sure that there are no air gaps and that you feel all the cracks with spray foam. And the second method is to use spray foam for all of the walls. This is probably the most difficult and most time consuming. And most people hire professional to do this, but it can be very effective. And the last method is to use a high R value wool or soft insulation. You want to find a material that is moisture resistant and will not mold. And the last section you'd want to insulate would be any windows or events. Windows are easily overlooked, but they are a huge contributor to loss of temperature control in the band. 10. Temperature Control: After your man is buttoned up tight with installation, we can now talk about regulating the temperature inside of your Ran. First, let's talk about heating. One of the easiest ways to heat up the van besides running the vans heater itself is using a portable heater that has a low oxygen sensor and an auto turn-off. If it tips over with this option, you can turn on your heater for a little bit, let it warm up and then turn it off. And with your well insulated van that it'll keep a toasty for awhile. And if it gets Chile again, you can turn it back on and using this type of heater and actually combining it with a heated blanket works pretty well if you have a well insulated van, another popular option is installing a diesel or a gas heater from your fuel tank or a small compartment that you can fill up separately. This type of heater goes inside the vehicle with an air intake and exhaust that's cut through the floor. A lot of times people install it under the driver's seat or the passenger seat. A fuel line will run between your heater and your fuel tank. And some newer models of sprinters and transits actually have an extra connection built into their fuel tanks specifically for attaching aftermarket fuel lines. Now let's talk about cooling off your van in warm climates. When planning out how to cool your van down, you want to think about airflow. You want to think about how they air enters and exits your tiny home. A van life staple and a basic option of circulating airflow in your van is a vent fan. Most electric von fans have the setting where the air can blow down on you, or they have the setting where you can exhaust the air out of the top or you can even keep the top closed and use the fan to circulate the interior air like a ceiling fan would. We'd suggest installing the fan above your bed so that you can sleep more comfortably. You can even add a second vent fan above the cooking area to exhaust as well and use both fans to circulate the air in and out. Installing a window that has a pop-out vet helps with your airflow as well. A fan that we suggest is the max err. This fan is remote controlled, has a top that allows you to use it in the rain and it works well. A few things that might seem obvious that help cool your van is first having a white or light colored van. Our first fan was white. And now that we have a black band, we see how much more quickly and hot the black band gets Due to the color. Some things that can help a darker van stay cool is by painting the roof white or even installing a reflective panel on top, also perking the shade and keeping your van buttoned up when you've been running the vans AC will help a lot too. But sometimes, even with all of those options, it's difficult to keep your van cool without an air conditioner. So let me tell you about the two main options. The first option is getting an air conditioner that runs off AC power, which means that you either need to keep your van running or plug it into shore power. If you're mainly going to use your van at campgrounds or another place that you can hook it up or even use a generator. This is a great option and will keep your band nice and cool. But for a lot of Van lifers, their surroundings change and they want an option for that. In our current van, we installed a fresh air DC powered air conditioner. This AC circulates water from a separate water tank through the system, allowing it to cool. Now this option isn't as ice cold, but it makes a huge difference in temperature and can run for a long period of time because it's DC powered and takes up a very small amount of energy. 11. Walls: In this section we'll be covering some options when it comes to your walls, ceiling and fluorine. First, let's talk about the flooring options. After you insulate the floor, you're gonna want a sturdy subfloor. This can be done with a half-inch or quarter inch plywood. And once you have a sturdy foundation, The next step is to lay the final floor to the most popular flooring options for vans are snapped together vinyl planking or a large sheet of vinyl. The snap together flooring is the same fluorine that's used in a lot of houses today. And it stands up really well to the elements and can be easily installed. They come in various sizes and designs making it easy to fit your veins aesthetic. And you wanna make sure you get a thin versions. You can keep as much height and your band as possible. Another option is to do one large sheet of vinyl flooring and then cut it to fit your man, this is a good option to keep things watertight, but if he becomes damaged at any point, it might be harder to repair. Now let's talk about your walls. Before you install your walls, you wanna make sure that you run all of your electrical wires behind them because once they go up, it becomes a little harder to access behind them to make attaching the walls and ceiling easier. You'll want to set out the walls and ceiling with furring strips which can be attached directly to the vans, metal beams when it comes to the materials for your walls and ceilings, Some of the most popular options are plank would tongue and groove, or you can use thin plywood. If you're using a full sheet of plywood, keep in mind that your van walls may be curved so you wanna make sure the wood has the men to it. First fan, we used 14 foot pieces of pine tongue and groove, and we use that for all of our walls and the ceiling in her latest van, we ended up using quarter-inch plywood sheets for the walls and thin strips of three-quarter inch pine for our ceiling to give it a modern look. When building your walls and ceiling, keep in mind your holes for lighting and any electrical outlets. And again, always keep in mind weight, durability and the design you love. 12. Shower: In this section we're going to be talking about indoor and outdoor shower options. We're going to talk about the heating systems for those. And then we're going to show you the steps we used to build our full-size indoor shower. We all need to shower at some point. And having a shower in your van, whether indoor and outdoor is a great way to feel refreshed and self-sufficient. So let's go over some popular shower options. Okay, first let's talk about an outdoor showers setup. Outdoor showers have their limitations was being weather permitting and if privacy is available, but there are a great way to save interior space. They're cost effective and you can save a lot of energy. The main outdoor shower types or a tankless propane water heater, an RV shower box, or solar heated shout. And now let's talk about the indoor shower options. Into a showers can cost a little bit more to make and they take up extra room in your van, but they give you more flexibility in how and when you can shower. Most popular indoor shower types are either a pop-up shower or a full size built-in shower. In both our vans, we've done both a pop-up shower and a full-size built-in to help make things easier. We will soon be adding a full video of each shower bill to YouTube. So be on the lookout for those. Whether you choose to install an indoor and outdoor shower, it's important to plan your electrical system and plumbing according to your specific needs. 13. Appliances: In this section we'll be talking about all the different types of appliances that you can use in your van when it comes to cooking the red appliances for your van? A lot will depend on how you set up your electrical system and determining ahead of time what can run off electricity and what can be powered by gas. Let's first talk about fridges. You have two main power options when it comes to purchase. The first AC power compressor fridge, which is your typical college dorm mini fridge, which runs off regular house power. Now because your fridges, the one appliance that is usually running all the time, I wouldn't recommend using a regular AC paired mini fridge as it would require a large battery bank, a large inverter, and consume a lot of power. The second option is a 12-volt for edge, which uses a lot less power and runs directly off your battery. So let's talk about a few different 12-volt or DC power fridge options. 12-volt fishes usually come in three main styles. First, a chest fridge that looks more like a cooler. Second is upright fridges looking more like the classic dorm fridge. Or a third, the pullout drawer approach. Let's start with the chest bridge. These are probably the most energy-efficient and are a great way for storing a lot of stuff. You'll have to design your cabinets and a way to make this style work, either installing a large door or making a venture around it. The chest fridge also comes in fridge freezer combos and some can be temperature controlled manually or by an app. The most popular brand of 12-volt bridges is the domestic brand. They are a little more expensive, but there are very efficient. They come in all different styles and I think they're definitely worth the investment. The second style of fridges are the upgrade fridges. Now, these are definitely more expensive than the chest bridges, but they're easier to build cabinets around and organize your contents inside. You do have to be more mindful about the stuff moving around in the fridge as you drive. But this can easily be solved with the small tension rad. And the last style is the door fridge. This style is nice for stacking the contents and maximizing your space and already has the drawer built around it. But it can be hard to find and run more on the expensive side. So when you're choosing your fridge, you just want to be aware of the power consumption as well as the design and space that best fits your layout. The next major appliance is your stove top. When it comes to picking out your stove, you want to decide if you want gas or electric. So let's go over both of them. The most popular van life option is probably to go with a gas stove top. Gas obviously does not use up any of your precious battery power and is pretty inexpensive. The biggest downside of going with gas is having the dangers of storing propane or butane and your band. If you go this route, I definitely recommend installing a gas detector for safety reasons, you have the option of building in a stove or going with a portable one. Both have their pros and cons with the built-in LAN, there's no set up required and you can easily whip up a meal. However, with a portable one, you have the option of cooking outside and you save on counter space. And the next option is going with an electric stove tab. Having electric is nice if you're concerned about storing are coming with propane, you need to make sure that you have enough battery bank to support the power consumption of an electric stove tab, but they're very clean in uneasy option. And again, you'll have the option of a portable one or a built-in version. So then when you're choosing your other countertop appliances like your coffee maker, a toaster, or a nice maker. You want to be aware of how much wattage these appliances withdraw. Once you see the wattage on these appliances, then you just want to make sure that your inverter can handle at least that amount. 14. Cushions: In the last section we talked about what type of bed is best for your van and lifestyle. So whether it's a fixed bed or convertible debt, let's talk about mattress and cushion options. If you're van layout has a fixed bed, you can probably make your base fit to a regular sized mattress depending on the model and whether your layout will allow for the bed to be built across the width of your ban or with the length of the van. This will help determine your mattress size. Then if you're doing a seating area with a fixed bed or a convertible bed from a larger seating area into the bed. Let's talk about your cushion options. This is definitely a step that you can hire out, but let's talk about how these are made to see if you're up for doing it yourself for our cushions, I use a four inch memory foam mattress topper. This allows you to easily cut the size that you need and it's a great price, two inches. The foam is more of a compact foam that keeps you from easily hitting the bottom. And two inches is memory foam that conforms to your body and has a lot more comfortable. And just a side note, when you're planning your build, Remember you want your feet to comfortably touched the ground when you're sitting on your cushions. So when you're making your venture your seat height, take the added cushion height into consideration. I've made cushions to different ways. So let's talk about each. The first way was to completely so the fabric, all six sides, meaning the four sides and the two ends, and then stuff it with the memory foam. And when I use this method, I actually used an additional two inches, a memory foam on top and sprayed here, add them together. These cushions turned out very comfortable, but we're definitely very time-consuming. The second way I made cushions, which saved a lot of time, was a no. So option a got a thin piece of Luan Wood and I set the memory foam on top. I wrapped all the pieces and batting to smooth the edges and folded the corners with hospital corners. I flipped it over and used a staple gun to wrap it around the back. Then I used a piece of Saul fell and you spray adhesive to glue it to the back covering up the staples. I was able to make the cushions pretty quickly. It's held up well and it's a great alternative if you're not familiar with the sewing machine. Now let's talk about cutting the foam and what fabric to use. Whether you're using a mattress topper or you're buying the phone pluses, you'll most likely need to cut them to size. I measured it, marks the mattress topper for the right size and tried to different methods for each option. It's best to do it with somebody else to help keep your lines stray and not angle your edge. The first method was to use a bread knife or a reciprocating saw. I started on one side and had James hold up the cut edge. This method can snag the phone easily causing a few chunks or ridges, but when you use the batting to wrap around the foam, it doesn't make too much of a difference. The second method we tried is to use a utility knife to slowly slice through the top of the foam, going all the way down. This method works well to have cleaner lines, but needs to be done very precisely in order to keep all your cut straight. Now there are few things to keep in mind when you're choosing the fabric four-year cushions, you want them to be durable for long-term, where you want them to be breathable, to help you stay comfortable, law, sleeping and setting. And you want them to look great if you're sewing, a lightweight fabric is a lot easier to manage on a sewing machine. And if your stapling a heavier weight material works better to hold the staple, I used a UV and water protecting spray after finishing our cushions that will make it a lot easier to wipe down to clean and handle any sun exposure.