Are you planning to convert a van into a camper but worried about limited space? Stretching out a van is an excellent way to maximize the living area inside your DIY campervan. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: you can stretch out a van by cutting it in half behind the front seats and inserting an extension before welding everything back together.
This allows you to lengthen the van’s interior cabin area for more space.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know to successfully stretch out a van. You’ll learn how to plan your layout, choose an extension length, find a van and donor van to cut and weld, securely join the two halves, and finish up your stretched van conversion.
Plan Your Layout and Measure Your Needs
When it comes to stretching out your van for maximum living space, careful planning is essential. Before you begin any construction or modifications, take the time to carefully consider your needs and preferences.
Deciding how much space you need is the first step in creating a functional and comfortable living area.
Decide How Much Space You Need
Start by assessing your specific requirements. Do you need a bed, a kitchenette, a bathroom, or all of the above? Consider your daily activities and how much space each activity requires. For example, if you enjoy cooking, you may need a larger kitchen area.
If you work remotely, you might need a designated workspace. By determining your needs, you can create a layout that maximizes the available space.
Make Templates and Models
Once you have a clear idea of your space requirements, it’s time to make templates and models. This step is crucial in visualizing your layout and ensuring it will meet your needs. Start by measuring your van’s interior dimensions and creating scale drawings.
Use cardboard or foam to create mock-ups of furniture and fixtures. This will allow you to experiment with different arrangements and make adjustments before committing to any permanent changes.
Choose Furnishings Wisely
When choosing furnishings for your van, it’s important to prioritize functionality and space-saving design. Look for multi-purpose items that can serve multiple functions. For example, a foldable table can double as a workspace and dining area.
Opt for storage solutions that maximize vertical space, such as overhead cabinets or under-bed storage compartments. Additionally, consider lightweight materials to avoid adding unnecessary weight to your van.
Remember, every inch of space counts when you’re trying to maximize your living area. By carefully planning your layout, measuring your needs, and choosing furnishings wisely, you can create a comfortable and functional living space in your van.
Choose the Right Length of Extension
When it comes to stretching out your van for maximum living space, choosing the right length of extension is crucial. The length of the extension will determine how much additional space you can create and what you can use it for. Here are three options to consider:
12-24 Inches for Minimal Changes
If you’re looking for a small increase in living space without making significant modifications to your van, a 12-24 inch extension may be the right choice for you. This size extension is perfect for adding a little extra storage or creating a small seating area.
It won’t drastically change the overall layout of your van, but it can still provide some added comfort and convenience.
24-36 Inches for More Headroom
If you’re tall or simply prefer a more spacious feel, a 24-36 inch extension is a great option. This size extension will give you more headroom, allowing you to stand up comfortably inside your van. It’s also ideal if you plan on installing cabinets or shelves along the walls, as the extra space will provide more room for storage and organization.
36+ Inches Maximizes Space
For those who want to maximize their living space and have the flexibility to create a customized interior, a 36+ inch extension is the way to go. With this size extension, you can transform your van into a mini home on wheels.
You’ll have plenty of space to add a bed, kitchenette, bathroom, and even a small living area. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have the freedom to create a layout that suits your specific needs and preferences.
Before deciding on the length of your van extension, take into consideration your budget, desired level of comfort, and how you plan to use the extra space. It’s also important to consult with a professional van conversion company, as they can provide expert advice and guidance based on your unique requirements.
Find the Right Vans to Stretch
When it comes to stretching out your van for maximum living space, finding the right vans to work with is crucial. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
Get Two Vans of the Same Make/Model
One way to maximize your living space is to get two vans of the same make and model. This will make it easier to seamlessly connect the two vans and create a larger interior space. Plus, having matching vans will give your conversion a more polished and cohesive look.
Keep in mind that you may need to do some modifications to connect the two vans, such as removing the rear walls and installing a connecting structure.
Match the Wheelbases
Another important factor to consider is matching the wheelbases of the vans. This will ensure that the two vehicles align properly and provide a stable foundation for your stretched-out van. Matching the wheelbases will also make it easier to install any additional structural supports or reinforcements that may be needed.
It’s worth noting that some van manufacturers offer different wheelbase options for the same make and model, so take the time to research and find the best match for your needs.
Inspect Condition Thoroughly
Before purchasing the vans, it’s essential to thoroughly inspect their condition. Look for any signs of rust, damage, or mechanical issues that could cause problems down the line. Pay close attention to the structural integrity of the vans, as you’ll be making modifications that rely on a solid foundation.
If you’re buying used vans, consider getting a professional inspection done to ensure there are no hidden issues. Taking the time to carefully inspect the vans will help you avoid any costly surprises during the conversion process.
Remember, finding the right vans is the first step towards maximizing your living space. Take the time to research and choose vans that are compatible and in good condition, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a comfortable and spacious living area.
Joining the Two Halves Securely
When it comes to stretching out your van for maximum living space, joining the two halves securely is a crucial step. This ensures that your extended van remains structurally sound and safe for living purposes.
There are several ways to effectively join the two halves of your van, and each method has its own set of pros and cons.
Cut Precisely Behind Front Seats
The first step in joining the two halves of your van is to cut precisely behind the front seats. This is where the separation will occur, allowing for the extension of the living space. It’s important to measure and mark the cut line accurately to ensure a seamless fit between the two halves.
Take your time and use the appropriate tools to make a clean and precise cut.
Weld Extension Between Halves
Once the cut has been made, the next step is to weld the extension between the two halves of your van. Welding is a strong and reliable method for joining metal together, providing a secure connection. Make sure to use proper welding techniques and safety precautions during this process.
If you’re not experienced with welding, it’s recommended to seek assistance from a professional to ensure a strong and sturdy weld.
Reinforce the Joints
After the extension has been welded, it’s essential to reinforce the joints to further strengthen the connection between the two halves of your van. This can be done by adding additional support beams or braces along the joints.
Reinforcing the joints will help distribute weight evenly and prevent any potential weak points. It’s important to choose durable and sturdy materials for reinforcement to ensure long-lasting stability.
Joining the two halves securely is a critical step in stretching out your van for maximum living space. By cutting precisely behind the front seats, welding the extension between the halves, and reinforcing the joints, you can create a solid and spacious living area in your van.
Remember to take all necessary safety precautions and seek professional assistance if needed. With a secure and well-joined van, you’ll be able to enjoy the comforts of a larger living space on your travels.
Finishing Touches for Your Stretched Van
Seal Gaps and Reassemble Parts
Once you have successfully stretched out your van to maximize living space, it’s important to pay attention to the finishing touches. One crucial step is to seal any gaps or openings that may have resulted from the stretching process.
This will help ensure that your van is properly insulated and protected from the elements. Use a high-quality sealant or adhesive to seal off any cracks or seams in the walls, floor, and ceiling of your van.
Additionally, carefully reassemble any parts that were removed during the stretching process, making sure everything fits snugly and securely.
Apply Rust Protection
As you work on the finishing touches for your stretched van, don’t forget about rust protection. Rust can be a major issue, especially if you’re planning to travel in areas with high humidity or salty air.
Apply a rust-proof coating to areas that are prone to corrosion, such as the undercarriage, wheel wells, and any exposed metal surfaces. This will help prevent rust from forming and damaging your van over time.
Be sure to choose a product that is specifically designed for automotive use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
Add Reinforcements and Decor
Once the essential finishing touches are complete, it’s time to add some reinforcements and decor to make your stretched van feel like home. Consider installing additional support beams or braces in key areas to ensure the structural integrity of your van.
This is especially important if you’ve made significant modifications during the stretching process. Adding decorative touches, such as curtains, rugs, and wall art, can also make your living space more inviting and personalized.
Get creative and choose items that reflect your style and make you feel comfortable.
Stretching out a van requires planning, effort, and skill, but allows you to customize your campervan floorplan beyond the usual constraints. With more interior space, you can create the perfect mobile living solution tailored to your needs.
Just be sure to follow proper safety procedures when cutting, welding, and driving your stretched van. The result will be a DIY campervan you can enjoy for years of comfortable traveling and living on the road.