Installing our floor in the bus.

Okay, now its time to start thinking about insulating for winter. First off, the floor is just bare metal. Well, bare metal that we sanded, and painted twice, so its sealed–but still very cold!

The first step was figuring out a general plan. What I’ve decided to do is to insulate with discarded (but clean) carpet padding, using 1×2’s as support for the 5/8 CDX I’ll be laying down for the floor. It took 7 sheets total, because I stoppped in the front to build a mudroom (with no floor, for now.) Also, this floor will serve as subfloor for a fancier installation of vinyl locking floor (money permitting, looks like sometime next year, hopefully.) I chose the vinyl locking floor because its very durable, easy to install, and is only about 1/8″ tall, so I would still have decent head room.


After sanding smooth, I painted a layer of high grade polyurethane onto the floor boards. I’m also thinking ahead a little bit, about the best way to cut around the wheel wells.


What made this especially difficult is that there is a 1″ ridge along the wall of the bus; a section of it had to be cut out just so that we could tilt the plywood enough to get it installed. You can see the ridge I’m talking about; I’m laying out the support strips to be sure they are the right length.


The supports are laid out 16″ on center. That means every 16″, there is a strip. This makes it easy to know where to put a screw through the CDX top board, to hit the support below. Usually on a tape measure, they mark 16″ in red. This is also a good layout because it fits perfectly with plywood, being 4′ long, there will be support on the edges and the middle.


Another suggestion I would make is that if you have the option, try not to live in your bus while you’re renovating. Its very crowded! Here you can see we moved everything in the back towards the front, and are starting with the back half of the bus for our floor.


One layer of carpet pad when down, then a support strip (the 1×2), and then another layer of carpet pad, cut to fit inside the channel. It helps to have industrial, bad-ass scissors like you see me using here:


This insulation was FREE and is some of the best stuff you can use–very high insulative rating. Check behind your local carpet store, you’ll find what you need eventually. Obviously, you want it clean as possible, in good condition (not deteriorating), and also check for thickness as carpet pad comes in a range of “quality” shall we say. The thicker the pad, the more expensive, and the better insulating. Some of the pad we found looked like it was literally brand new! Turn down the stuff that’s questionable, and keep a look out for the good stuff ’cause more than likley you’ll find it within the first few excursions.


Looks awesome and warm!

Oh man, now for these boards!

Sorry there’s no pictures of us installing the boards. It was very difficult to maneauver in such tight quarters, but we got it eventually:


Now, moving forward, we want to cover the wheel wells. For now, we just cut the floor around them, and kept on goin’:


By the end of the night, we had installed four boards total, including the two that went around the wheel wells. The carpet padding probably took the longest of all the activities. Whew, what an exhausting day!


Next day… carry on!!!

Now we’re down to the last bits of padding. They are smaller, and so there’s even more cutting involved to fit everything together. We want to keep the 16″ on center, so taking the time to make it right will make everything easier as we go along.


Well, looks like I ran out of pictures! Check back for the posting about building the wall for the mudroom; The finished floor is pictured there. I ended the floor with one of those 1×2’s, flipped upward, so it covered the plywood edge. No screws penetrated the floor.


Vapor barrier?
I went back and forth on this one. My worry was trapping moisture between the metal floor and the barrier. (What is it>> it is basically a sheet of plastic for those that don’t know, to prevent moisture movement. Moisture can build up easily from condensation–having a warm bus, and cold outside air.) I elected not to put a barrier. I feel pretty good about the seal job I did on the floor, and I doubt I’ll live in this bus long enough for it to become a problem. However, I’m open to discussion on the topic, share your experience, etc.

Thanks for reading! Hope this helps anyone out there trying to renovate a skoolie on a budget!
Thank you Kristy for all the photos! I get so involved in the work, I forget to take progress shots. She worked right along side me the whole time, too, even though I’m the only one in the pictures!


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