Don't like walking on a cold floor in the mornings? This DIY project is for you..!
If you go caravanning in the winter months, you’ll know how horrible a cold hard floor can be. In most vans the floor as it is often made from vinyl or some other hard wearing, easy to clean material. The problem with this is it quite cold especially in the winter months and, if you’re anything like Kylie and I, getting up in the morning to a cold floor is not exactly compatible with the whole camping in comfort thing.
In our previous van, I fitted some custom made rubber backed marine carpet that I fashioned myself. I mainly did it to assist with keeping the van clean but it had the added benefit of making a warmer floor for the those cold mornings. With a trip to the Victorian high country planned for the Queen’s birthday long weekend, I decided to do the same for our Roadstar. Here’s how I did it.
You need a few basic tools. A sharp retractable knife, large square ruler or straight edge, a tape measure and a carpenters pencil.
The first thing you need to do is to measure out the van to get an idea of how much carpet you will need. Our van is 20 foot long inside which is about 8 metres. Knowing I would be able to purchase the carpet in a width of about 2 metres, I estimated that 6 metres would allow me enough left over that I could fix any mistakes or to be used for other tasks.
I purchased rubber backed marine carpet from Bunnings but you could use just about any carpet you like. The only thing you need to be aware of is not to get anything that is too stiff otherwise it will be difficult to remove and refit for cleaning. The rubber back marine carpet is hard wearing but also relatively flexible. The rubber also helps with insulation against the cold.
Once you have your carpet, you will need to make templates to customise the fit. If you look at your van floor, you’ll notice not everything is straight, square or sharp angled. There are sliders for the ensuite door, dividing walls and the seats will have small bumps at the corners. If you have a toilet, it is especially tricky to get this just right. I measured all the edges and noted them on a rough drawing of the floorplan. The I used A4 paper to mark out the edges and stuck them together with tape. This works OK but it doesn’t hold its shape very well. Using the measurements I took of the floor, I was able to realign the template to match the original shape. If I did this again, I would use larger butcher’s paper or something similar that holds the shape better.
One tip. Don’t try to make the carpet in one piece. Apart from being extremely difficult to do, it will make it almost impossible to remove the carpet and fit it back. Divide it into smaller sections to make life easier. I did ours in 6 sections. The ensuite, the kitchen area, the dinette, the doorway and then 2 small sections along either side of the bed.
Now when you cut the carpet, always measure twice and cut once. And give yourself some extra at the edges so you can trim it to fit. Trust me, no matter how careful you are, unless you’re a carpet layer by trade, you’ll make a mistake somewhere. Also, use the straight edges of the carpet to get the template straight. You can square off here for a better fit. One thing I did was to turn the carpet over to make cutting it easier. If you do this remember to reverse your template. I also found using drawing pins to secure the template made life a bit easier.
Once you cut out a section, take it to the van and trim the edges to fit. You will need to be careful to trim the edges where each section meets another otherwise you end up with a tripping hazard. I find the rubber backed carpet settles pretty flat but you may want to look at some way to keep the edges together if this bothers you or your carpet is a bit stiff.
As I mentioned earlier, the ensuite is tricky if you want to fit the carpet around the base of the toilet. We also have an offset kitchen which had a slight angle on the longest edge. This is where the templates come in handy.
The result is pretty awesome and something you can be proud of. It looks good, keeps you comfortable and is a modification that you can do yourself cheaply and easily.