Camper Van Upholstery and Cushion Tips

Welcome to Module 2 / Lesson 11 of the Van Life Road Map. In this lesson, we’ll cover van upholstery options and considerations. One of the fun things about building out a van is personalizing it to make it your own. Once you’ve dialed in the floor plan and have a better idea of the structural layout, you’ll start to think more about how to make it feel like home. Upholstery is one way to add a little personality to the interior space.

In this quick lesson, you’ll learn:

  • Options for upholstery materials for your van conversion
  • Tips for choosing cushion colors for easy cleaning

If you want to jump around to other lessons in Module 2, here are other van conversion topics we cover (final lesson coming soon!):

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Upholstery Options for Your Van

There are several different options to upholster the cushions and chairs in your van within a range of budgets.

Marine Grade Fabrics

Stain-resistant RV and marine-grade fabrics are popular because they can withstand the ways of the road. That coffee you love to sip in the morning can end up ruining your fabric with one bump in the road, so it might be something to consider.

Sunbrella is a leading brand and is what the cushions in this van are upholstered with. It’s durable, easy to clean, and fade resistant. There are other comparable options out there as well.

The walls in my van are covered in SilLeather which could also be used for cushions for a leather-like look. It’s an eco-friendly material made with 100% silicone and designed for rugged use. Plus, it’s water-resistant, easy to clean, and it doesn’t off-gas like some other harsh products.

Traditional Upholstery Options

For more traditional upholstery options you’ve got vinyl, leather, and cloth like most vehicles have. These can be found through a professional RV or marine dealer or a local upholstery shop that can install for you, or you can DIY for a low-cost budget-friendly method.

Online fabric dealers will often send samples in the mail if you want to feel the fabric and see how the colors will match up with your cabinets and other design choices.

Hemp upholstery is another option. It’s usually more expensive than the others mentioned, but it’s worth checking out.

Upholstery Colors

One thing that I want to point out is that you want to choose your upholstery colors carefully, particularly if you are going with a cloth fabric and especially if you have pets. Living in a van comes with dust and dirt, and light-colored couch cushions and bedding are hard to keep clean.

I typically keep my dinette cushions covered with a towel because our dog jumps on the cushions to get up into the bed. It’s literally impossible to keep them clean, especially with how light they are. Luckily they are machine washable and made of Sunbrella, so they are stain resistant…but if you want things to look and feel clean, you should avoid white and light colors.

Upholstery is one way to add personality to your van interior. Learn about van upholstery options and considerations including the best materials to use.
Light colored Sunbrella upholstery in my current van

I hope that gives you a good place to start with upholstery for your van. You’ve come a long way, and next up is the final lesson of this module.


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Upholstery is one way to add personality to your van interior. Learn about van upholstery options and considerations including the best materials to use.

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About the author

Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

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