The floor panel is the base of the interior build of the Sprinter, because all of the furniture will be fastened to the plate – that’s why the build depends on a decent and stable floor plate. There are different possibilities and alternatives when it comes to choosing the right kind of wood.
We already told you about removing the old floor panel and the small surprises we found below as well as the sub-construction of wooden slats. After the whole topic concerning insulation we now present you our new floor panel and also name some alternatives!
Our choice: OSB3-plate or wafer board
For our floor panel we chose one of the most multifunctional kinds of wood, an OSB3-plate also called wafer board, of a thickness of 15 mm.
OSB means oriented strand board. The chunky strands of which the plate is made of are being glued, spread crossways and then compressed. Due to the long and slim strands, OSB-plates have a high bending strength. Another great characteristic, especially when building a camper, is the high water vapor diffusion resistance (or moisture barrier) which means that these kinds of plates are water resistant.
OSB-plates are divided into different classes according to their characteristics. For dry areas and interior constructions OSB1-plates are used as well as OSB2-plates for load-bearing purposes. OSB3-plates are used for load-bearing purposes both for dry and wet areas as well as OSB4-plates which are heavy-duty. In modern wood construction the classes 1 and 2 are usually not used. Considering the different classes and their different intended purposes, OSB3-plates have the best characteristics for our floor.
Depending on the utilization and wear, the thickness of the plates (available from 9 mm to 40 mm) has to be chosen. The floor panel of our camper has to be stable but regarding the weight we chose a thickness of 15 mm. You could also use plates of e.g. 18 mm, its insulating characteristic would be higher, but the plates a lot heavier, too.
Our floor plate is not made of two pieces, like the original one, but three „small“ pieces. We recommend tongue and groove joints. By interlocking they have lots of stability without reducing the flexibility. They are easy to lay and there won’t be any kind of differences in height or edges.
OSB3-boards are available at the hardware or lumber store. We got all our wood for our campervan conversion at our local lumber store where we already had them roughly cut to the right size.
Alternative floor panel: Multiplex panel (veneer plywood)
Multiplex plates are made of various layers, usually birch or beech, at least five layers to be exact. It’s always an odd-numbered amount of layers, but they are all the same thickness. The plates are glued against each other, due to the alignment of the grain (90° angle) it has great dimensional stability as well as maximum stiffness in every bending direction. Due to the stability, it’s often used for furniture and construction but compared to the other alternatives, it is quite heavy. Regarding the movement of the vehicle while driving, the low flexibility in this case might even be a disadvantage.
Multiplex Plates are graded in classes E and I to IV, depending on the look of the surface. Class E is flawless without any branches, low color differences and a light top layer. Whereas class IV has branches, knotholes, cracks and all kinds of natural flaws are tolerated.
Alternative floor panel: Screen print plate
A special kind of Multiplex panel is the Screen print plate, it is coated on both sides and roughened on one side. Screen print plates are used in areas that call for weather-resistance and a non-slippery surface.
Alternative floor panel: Wood core plywood
The block plywood is made of a middle layer of parallel arranged wooden sticks. This layer is usually made of spruce or any other lightweight coniferous wood. The face veneers are then glued to this layer.
The advantage of the smaller wood core plywood compared to the bigger wood core plywood is that the sticks are glued among each other and thus a higher staying power is guaranteed.
Wood core plywood is quite heavy though, still flexible but also stable and quite cheap, it’s often used for shelf plates. Officially it’s not allowed to be a supportive component of any kind of build.
Alternative floor panel: Plywood
One of the most used kind of woods in vanbuilding is poplar plywood. Plywood is usually made of 3 or any other odd-numbered amount of layers which are glued crosswise and then the face veneers are usually thinner. Our floor panel may not be made of plywood but so will be other parts of our vanbuild 😉
Plywood is solid and light. But unfortunately it is not water-repellant and because it is a soft wood it is prone to scratches and dents. To prevent this, when using plywood as floor plate, it has to be varnished beforehand.
Now that you know of the different kind of woods that can be used as a floor plate we move on to the installation of our OSB3-plates!