Comment: Caravan Interior

Hi everyone. My husband and i are building a caravan (he is very handy and a boilermaker). We have done the chassis, water tanks in, have the windows ready to go in and the outside is made of polycore. My question is, if there are any fellow builders out there (we are in Brisbane) where did you manage to sorce laminate for inside, kitchen cupboards, and trimmings for outside edges (where polycore joins) and inside where the windows will sit. Anything else you can think to add would be great. Thanks Trev and Trace
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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 19:57

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 19:57
You can get laminates from Bunnings . If it not in store, ask at the special orders desk and they will get it in for you.
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AnswerID: 531498

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:42

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:42
Oh dear......if you are buying cabinet materials from Bunnings you are probablly paying too much and waiting too long....and have a limited range of products.

and that goes for just about every serious hardwear item you can think of.

Bunnings is a full retail price hardware supplier.
You will get a better range, better price and better service from a trade board supplier.

I am continulally gob smacked that even some tradies buy from bunnings and know little of the better trade suppliers.
Hell some of em even buy power tools there....when there is a tradetools branch in most industrial areas.

I spose the average tradie can be excused for not knowing about places like Carbatec and Hare & forbes......

I don't know many contacts on the northside.

But on the southside.
try paramount industries at coorparoo...they are a laminex distributor...maybe not the cheapest supplier but they will get you any laminex product and deliver it if you like.

Or the wood panel centre at capalaba

I have in the past used both regularly
Mr ply at underwood are worth a look...I have not dealt with them but I know others that have.....they stock BB hoop ply which is very nice.

If you want to look arround there are some great materials out there...that you will never see at bunnings.

There is a croud at thorneside that have some very light weight and damn strong plywoods that are intended for boating construction....they are expensive compared to regular hell if you are buying at bunnings, you will be paying that sort of price anyway.

Boatcraft pacific at loganholme as well as being THE supplier for great marine epoxy and fibreglass, stock a limited range or quite nice, plywood...they also stock some light weight composites if you want to go exotic.

There will be other independent board suppliers that may deal with you.

I cant remember the name off hand...I'd have to dig it up....but there is a board supplier on the gold coast that specialises is eurpoean burch ply....very nice stuff....they deliver brisbane daily...I have not had anything from them but I know people who have.

If you are looking for the various hardware items...Lincon Centry at coopers plains are probebly the most comprehensive and will deal with walk ins.

when it comes to fasterners and more or less basic hinges and stuff...try you local independent bolt shop.

Johny at The bolt king in capalaba, never lets me down....he gives everbody his best price first time and can conjure upp just about anything in the way of fasteners and will deliver or courier all over town.

There is a bolt shop off evan road at salsbury..used to be in the old post office...but they have moved next door...very well regarded.

get with the specilist trade suppliers...most of them will deal with seriuos hobbyists.

I will only go t Bunnings if I an realy despirate.

FollowupID: 814521

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:24

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:24
Bunnings isn't all bad, but not all good either. You can have wins and potential losses. In things like lengths of steel and aluminium you could be paying double (or more) as against the specialists suppliers if our area is any example. I can get a full 6M length of some steels for the same price Bunnings are asking for a 3M length. I recently wanted some of that 25mm square aluminium tubing with the plastic joins for cabinets and although the plastic bits were of a similar price the tubing itself was far cheaper buying by the 6M length from a specialist rather than the pre cut short lengths that Bunnings stocked. On the other side, they do have a price matching policy for the same item being stocked elsewhere and will then beat it by 10% and I had little trouble in getting them to actually do it. Some of our biggest wins though have been for tins of tinted paint that Customers have rejected that can be very cheap. I wish though that Masters would get here sooner for some better competition.
FollowupID: 814527

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 09:55

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 09:55
One of the problems is that Bunning have taken a hell of a lot of the profitable retail a quite a slab of the very narrow builder business away from other hardware shops and they have not been able to sustain their business with out it.

The other remaining hardware businesses have lowered their game, reduced range, service and quality in an effort to compete with bunnings.

In some areas, it is Bunnings or nothing.

As for price matching offers.......while there are some situations where it actually works there are a number of ways that price match claims and offers can be rendered more or less useless.

The words."identical stock item" is a beauty.
Companies that offer price match often sell specifically packaged versions, models or branded items that are exclusive to them.

A near identical item from another supplier is not identical and therefore they will not price match.

Often companies offering price match will get hammered on a particular item from a competitor......that item will magicaly disapear from the shelves...."sorry that is no longer a stock item"...only to reapear some time later....its been stashed in a back room or packed up in a crate on a high shelf till the heat is off.

Much of the time they simply do not stock the item you want or the most competitive item on the market.

Oh and the proof....yeh there is the requirement for competitive markets like appliances and brown goods, so many vendors wont give a good price over the phone and they wont give you the deal in writing.....this is a tactic specifically aimed at combating price matching.

Then there is the fiddle.
If you want to get a price match you have to fiddle about shopping round gathering the proof and fronting up the company offering the price match....then if you get knocked back on one of the above have wasted your time.

Better to go to a supplier that is giving a competitive price first time, raher than one that is hitting you up for as much as they can get untill you chalenge them.

Yeh these companies know damn well that the number of times they price match is insignificant compared to the number of times they get away with charging full freight and then some.

FollowupID: 814546

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:21

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:21
I was after a specific petrol powered Karcher pressure cleaner and Bunnings were significantly dearer than another place. When I asked the Bunnings person about it they said that they had already had someone ask for a price match with that other supplier and I didn't have to provide any proof myself. They hadn't dropped the sticker price even knowing that and later on I checked again and remaining ones were still at the higher price.

As to excuses not to price match, my son was after a colour laser printer and we went to a branch of a well known Australia wide Company. All went well with price matching until it got to the teller and they refused it. The grounds were that they were already offering a 2 year warranty and the interstate comparison was only 1 year. My son sent an email to their head office and they agreed the grounds for refusal weren't valid and freighted one up to him at the lower price. It pays to have all your facts and not accept spurious arguments.
FollowupID: 814549

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:48

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:48
Thanks guys, will investigate some of these places, all helpful..
FollowupID: 814565

Reply By: Slow one - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 20:07

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 20:07
Trev and Trace,

This is one mob in your. Have a look below. areaCaravan interiors
AnswerID: 531501

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:49

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:49
Hi Slow One,
will check these guys out also. Trace
FollowupID: 814566

Reply By: tonysmc - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:25

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:25
I know Jayco use Formica sheets, however I think the closest to you is Coffs Harbour, you may like to try The Laminex Group Brisbane Showroom
286 Queensport Road North Murarrie 4172 QLD
Phone: (07) 3815 5700

Cheers Tony.
AnswerID: 531503

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:48

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 21:48
Yeh, I don't think laminex will deal, retail sales these days....they are not even keen on dealing with low volume trade.

Back a few years ago there where two major players in laminate......Laminex and Formica.

These days ther are others like Metica and other imported brands.

As I have mentioned above.

Paramount industries handle laminex sales from their wharehouse at coorparoo next door to the RSL.

Wood panel centre, last visit, at least 3 brands of laminate.

There will be similar trade board dealers near you that will do the same and see you right.

FollowupID: 814524

Reply By: Member - KeithB - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:25

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:25
I am about to start building a crossover camper trailer out of 15mm Polycore. Rather than go with gelcoat or a thin layer of fibreglass on the outside, I decided to paint the whole thing with two pack water based epoxy.

So I sanded all of the panels and put four coats of high build epoxy primer on them (wet on wet) and then sanded again while they were still in full sheets. It was a big job and I had to use a floor sander. But you have to cover the Polycore with some kind of finish because the epoxy resin they use to bind the surface doesn't like UV light.

The trick with Polycore is how you decide to do the joins. I am glassing all of mine with epoxy and plan to fair them all before painting just like you would a boat. You may have done yours differently.

The reason for all of the fuss is that adding gelcoat or a laminate to the Polycore on both sides increases its weight by about 50 per cent. Why not make the internal joinery out of Polycore as well, bond it to the body and put a nice hard epoxy finish on the Polycore? Modern epoxy finishes, and you can even get water based ones that are harder than laminate. After a few days, some are too hard to sand.

You could also finish the internal walls with flexible printed vinyl (like wallpaper) is it's not too heavy, if you don't want paint.

It's a lot of work but light weight and unbelievably strong. Sounds like a wonderful build. Would love to see some pictures.

AnswerID: 531506

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 06:32

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 06:32
Hi Keith,
My husband was wondering about the joins as we will be getting to that stage shortly. We are actually going to do a lot of the interior out of the polycore also. Table, bedbase and as much as we can with the cupboards, no off cut is been wasted. Polycore floor also, floor thicker than the walls. Our van is 18 foot and been built for 4wd areas. Its been a bit of a challenge, but we are enjoying it. Thanks for the ideas. We will put some pics up.
Tracey. s
FollowupID: 814537

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:14

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:14
Yeh a couple of things....moden epoxies are all over the polyester resins more traditionally used with glass fibre and the like.

The epoxies have a far better afinity for materials, are impervious where polyester is not and the flexibility that epoxy can that it can be thickened and fortified with a variety of materials or left thin and fabulous.

Remember Boatcraft Pacific

If you are going to work in composites, do a little reading on methods of boating construction like stich and glue.

If you can lay your hands on one....a coppy of.."the gudgeon brothers on boat building" is very revealing.....don't try to read it all at once...your brain will explode.

Yes the issue with epoxy in general is its poor resistance to UV......but other than that it is great stuff.

For the paints and stuff...look to the boating world too.

Build the Bas#$@d like a boat and you wont be disapointed.

As for prefinishing and pre-joining sheets...Oh hell yeh

Pre-finish and prejoin as much as you makes things sooo much easier and will give you a far better result.

once prefinished all you then have to deal with are the construction joints.

and of coupe a couple of final coats of finish.

FollowupID: 814548

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:47

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:47
Hi Bantam,
yes, my husband agrees very much - build it like a boat! Thanks for advice, will check out Boatcraft Pacific and boating community.
FollowupID: 814564

Reply By: Member - kev.h - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:54

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 at 22:54
Hi Tracy

Contact Glen at
Duralite Modular Systems Pty Ltd
Ph: 0418876625

They can supply everything you need, they have developed a complete modular system for caravan/ motor home interiors ideal for the home builder
Glen is very helpful, he even did Cad drawings and plans from our sketches
We are building a truck based motor home and using their system
AnswerID: 531508

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 06:34

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 06:34
Thanks Kevin,
Sounds good, will give them a call and see if they can work with what we are planning with the polycore. Any advice is great and much appreciated.
FollowupID: 814538

Reply By: Slow one - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 08:14

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 08:14
Trev and Trace

another angle would be to ask the boatbuilding fraternity the question, as most of the polycore would be used in boat construction.

I know they used sheets of very thin teak and other timbers to cover their bulkheads.

So maybe a question on a boating site may give more information.

For a laugh, you can buy a carbon fibre van in the states for a lazy $180000 US.

Happy hunting
AnswerID: 531511

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:23

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:23
I don't know if they still do, but Boatcraft pacific used to offer custom laminated composites like foam board and what I know as astroboard ( honeycomb board), laid up with thin lightweight ply faces.

Rediculoulsy light, damn strong and a great look.

Another option for the interiours would be the untralight plywoods like palownia cored boards.

Less than half the weight of the lighetest radiata, stronger and with the right outer vener... gorgeous.

I got a couple of samples from the crowd at Thornside....They sold some of this stuff for an interiour fit out for a helcopter.

There are some realy nice materials out there.

The boating community have a lot to offer the the custom caravan constructor.

FollowupID: 814550

Reply By: Member - KeithB - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 11:23

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 11:23
ATL Composites can supply epoxy angles for doing internal joints in hard to reach places where glassing might be difficult. They also have a kneadable light weight epoxy putty for finishing off the raw edges.
Boatcraft have a low emission epoxy resin which can be used for glassing, filling and fairing with addition of a powder binder. They also do the water based epoxy paints that I am using.
Do make sure that your old man protects himself during the work. Epoxy dusts and solvents are all toxic.
After all the work is done, you will end up with an indestructible van. Do keep us all posted on progress. Or maybe put up a thread on your build on Myswag so we can all have a bit of a perve.
AnswerID: 531516

Follow Up By: Tracey P - Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:52

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 at 17:52
Loving the advice everyone, thanks so much..will look into all above and see what we can indestructible van sounds yes we will post pic's as we go along.
Trace and Trev ;)
FollowupID: 814567

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