Painting & Tiling




TOTAL: £151.43

It was at this stage of the build that I really regretted leaving my cladding to last. I’m sure I saved a bit of money on timber but it made the job of painting a lot more tedious having to navigate around my furniture and fittings. 

The major challenge I had to overcome was having to paint in December, just as the cold weather decided to turn up (or down). The below freezing temperatures have a terrible effect on the paint and its drying, so I had to fire the diesel heater up to make sure the van was nice a toasty.

Painting the walls and furniture

After removing all my overhead cupboard doors, the first thing to do was to lightly sand all the surfaces that I’m planning to paint. I just went over the walls and furniture with my orbital sander, making for a nicer surface for the paint to adhere to. 

I then lightly dabbed some knotting solution on some of the larger knots in the wood to prevent them from seeping through the paint. As the temperature was very cold, I treated the back doors first, closed up the van, then turned on the diesel heater to get the van nice and warm, before treating the rest of the walls. 

Whilst the knotting solution was drying, I applied masking tape to all the edges to avoid me accidentally covering my lovely IKEA kitchen in paint marks. I was unable to remove things like my plug sockets and USB ports so I carefully wrapped them in masking tape as well.

The Dulux paint that I bought is very thick, so I mixed it with a bit of water before applying - ⅔ paint, ⅓ water. I used a roller to cover the larger areas and then smaller brushes for the tighter areas.

Like with the knotting solution, I painted the back doors first, closed up the van, turned on the heater and then painted the rest of the van. 

Whilst the paint in the van was drying, I painted all of my cupboard doors. Again, because of the cold, I sanded then painted them one by one and then found a place inside for them to dry. 

Once everything was dry, I went over everything with my orbital sander again to remove any imperfections and create a nice surface to apply my second layer of paint. 

Before painting, I applied a bit of caulk to some of the small crevices, to make sure all joins were nice and neat. I also applied caulk to hide some screw heads that I didn’t want to be seen. 

Once the caulk had dried, it was then just a case of going over the walls and furniture with another layer of white paint and whilst that was drying, giving the cupboard doors another layer as well.


The process for varnishing was largely the same as painting - After I’d removed the roof vent covers and popped out the lights slightly, I added masking tape around the edge of the ceiling. 

After sanding the ceiling and wiping it down with a moist cloth, I applied one layer of varnish with a brush. I made sure to only paint lengthways down the beams of cladding. 

Once it had dried, I sanded the ceiling again and applied a second layer of varnish. 

For the front of the table and the bed frame, I decided to unscrew them and varnish them outside, something I probably should have done when I was painting the walls and furniture.

I again sanded and applied two layers to these items before screwing them back in place.


adhesive applied to ceramic tile being used for splashback

I decided to buy some stone (fancy name for light grey) coloured tiles to use for a splashback behind the sink in my kitchen. The tiles themselves are slightly smaller than your standard kitchen tile, at 25x5cm big. I wanted the splashback to be four tiles high and four and half tiles long.

Typically when fitting tiles, you would cover the entire wall area with an adhesive and then position each of the tiles in place. However, because my tiles are installed in a van which is prone to a lot of movement, I wanted to use a flexible adhesive which needs to be applied directly to each individual tile. 

Before I went ahead and stuck tiles to my newly painted cladding, I scored the whole area of wood with a stanley knife to give a bit of a rougher area for the adhesive to stick to.

As my splashback is four and a half tiles long, I used my tile cutter to cut two tiles in half giving me the four half-tiles I needed.

Tile by tile, I applied a bead of adhesive close to the edge of the tile and then pressed it into place on the wall. I bought some T-shape tile spacers and added one either side of each tile to make sure they were evenly spaced across the wall. It’s important to use these spacers to create an even gap between the bottom row of tiles and the kitchen worktop as you don’t want the two touching.

During this process, a lot of people prefer to add some edge banding to the exposed edges of tiles for a nice finish, but I’m going to leave the edge of my tiles exposed for now.

finished ceramic tile splashback in the kitchen of my van

The adhesive I used apparently dries in 30 minutes, but I left it all day just to be sure. Once dry, I removed all the spacers from between the tiles to get ready for grouting. 

Like the adhesive, I made sure to buy some flexible grout as not only is this better for bumpy campervans, but it’s also better for the fluctuating temperatures in the van. 

In a small bucket, I mixed together the grout with some water to form a nice paste and then using my spreader I smeared it across the entire splashback making sure all the gaps between the tiles were filled. 

The tiling kit I bought came with a grout finisher which you can run across all of the crevices to create a nice smooth line and will get rid of any excess grout. With some clean water, I then used a damp sponge to wipe away the excess grout off the face of the tiles so they were nice and clean.

For the gap at the bottom of the splashback and also around the other edges, I applied a thin bead of caulk in order to make a waterproof seal. 

Finishing touches

In between painting and tiling, whilst I was waiting for my tiles to arrive, to finish off my window frames I installed some pine corner moulding and stuck it in place with some adhesive. 

I also fixed some pine handles to my overhead cupboards, as well as some auto-carpet on the bottom of each cupboard just to prevent things sliding around so much inside. 

If you have any questions at all, feel free to ping me an email or drop me a message on Instagram!