The last couple of weeks have slowed down progress mainly because of the temperature. Most of my work is done inside the van, or garage, or outside. So when the temp drops to 20 degrees, it’s tough to keep any of those places warm enough for working comfort.
Still, I chipped away on the floor upgrade whenever it got warm enough. The first thing I needed to do is pull out the factory plywood floor and use it as a template for the marine grade vinyl I sourced through Cole at CaveVan. A lot of custom builders prefer an industrial grade of flooring for this application because of its stability in extreme temperatures. Many DIY builders source regular vinyl from their hardware store, only to find out two seasons later it starts to warp and crack with extreme temperature swings. It’s a vehicle, after all. It’s driven through snow, rain, and heat. Something your kitchen floor type vinyl is not made for. This vinyl is made for high traffic areas, industrial marine environments, and walk-in freezers in labs or hospitals. I never want to be in a position of gutting the van to pull up the floor and replace it.
I also get asked why I didn’t choose wood planks, engineered or otherwise. The light color we were going for made the approach a bit undesirable as dirt would trap easily and would be impossible to clean, not to mention the weight. This floor weighed less than 100lbs, and an specially formulated epoxy was used to adhere it to the factory floor. You may not be able to make it out in the photos, but it’s quite a bit thicker than your standard floor, and it feels like it too.
After pulling up the factory floor (which surprisingly enough was also insulated a bit underneath), I doubled up on the soundproofing around the wheel wells. I also added a few strips of styrofoam material in the deeper tracks. I thought it would be a good idea to add another 1.4″ layer of this styrofoam material under the factory floor, but once in I realized it would make an impractical finish. The floor felt squishy underfoot. I pulled it all back out and eliminated the redundant layer.
After the rough cut, I was able to get the factory floor back in and covered up the threaded holes int he floor made for the bolts that hold down the tie-down shackles. You’ll see why later.
Once positioned properly, I brought in the vinyl floor and put it in place. I did a final trim around all of the corners and generally checked for lumps, and alignment. I did not cut out the holes for the shackles, betting I would be able to feel around and find them later (which I did).
The next step was to mix the epoxy parts A and B and use a drill to activate the mixture. Once activated I have about 30 minutes to spread it before it hardened. We had to work fast and precise. I troweled the epoxy down with a small v-notch trowel, making sure to get all of the edges and corners. Once half the van was troweled with epoxy, we lowered the floor into place. A rented 150lb linoleum roller ironed out the wrinkles and secured the edges. I troweled the rest of the epoxy down, laid the vinyl and repeated the process for the back half of the van. By that time I was starting to feel the epoxy harden. A few runs with the roller would make the final finish.
Two days later I opened up the latch holes and pulled up the tape on the threaded sockets for the tie-down bolts. The rest of the install was a matter of doing a final trim, installing the tie downs, and caulking the edges for a watertight finish that keeps the squeaks out.
I’m pretty happy with the final outcome. It’s the first time I’ve worked with a Lonseal product and I’ll say that it’s physically demanding. The thickness makes the whole piece of material heavy and unwieldy. You definitely need help, and I’m glad I had some.