Vanlife has a dark side. Literary dark. It’s because nearly all vans, including step vans come with metal ceilings. On one hand, that’s good. The solid structure can protect against rain, storm, and falling objects. On the other hand it makes the entire interior dark. And that’s bad, really bad.
Lucky us! Our step van came with a translucent ceiling. Not that the van got equipped with the newly invented see-through metal sheets, but it came with transparent fiberglass surface, that let sunlight to come into the interior.
That changes everything. Besides making vanlife more palatable (read: less dingy), it also presents some conversion difficulties. Our dilemma was: what can one finish the ceiling with to preserve its light-permeable function? For sure not with the traditional finishes like wood, or solid plastic panels.
So, now what? Leave the ugliness of the rough and floppy membrane exposed? Leave the wires hanging? Leave the ceiling as is? We could not afford that. Due to safety, and mostly because I don’t like torrid ugliness, Andi had to come up with a solution.
A new step van conversion idea
A few weeks into head scratching suddenly a solution presented itself as if God felt pity for us: think coroplast.
Coroplast isn’t for ceilings. It is for signs. Coroplast comes as fluted sheets in various colors, thickness, and transparency. For our ceiling project, we chose 4mm clear type. It worked like a charm.
Besides coroplast being widely available and cheap ($15-$20 for a 4’x8′ sheet), it is also lightweight (read: spend less on gas), mildew resistant (read: you can breathe), and easy to clean (read: limits dirty vanlife gossip). It is also easy to work with. It is easy to cut (no special equipment required) and relatively flexible, so you can fit it in tight spaces.
Guess what! We liked it so much that our entire LUVe (walls and all) ended up coroplast-finished!