ply lining for vans

live and let ply

The merest mention of commercial vehicle ply lining can be enough to send normally alert and attentive van operators into a jaded, disinterested stupor. But that's probably because they don't fully understand the intricacies of this 'interesting' subject. Getting some good ply lining for your vehicle could save you a packet in the long run.

Ply lining, if you're still with me, is the practice of covering the interior of a van's load bay with a layer of plywood. There are numerous companies that provide such a service and numerous reasons why you should consider taking them up on their generous offers. Basically, a plywood lining is a way of protecting your van's cargo from damage while, at the same time, protecting your vehicle's interior panelling.

With the best will in the world, the van driver in a hurry is always going to occasionally neglect to secure items in the back properly. A few briskly taken corners or the odd sharp braking manoeuvre later and suddenly that 300-piece bone china dinner service has suffered a dramatic decline in value. No amount of ply lining will prevent the worst coming to the worst if you drive like a maniac with a van load of unsecured crockery but it does form a useful, more forgiving barrier between said cargo and your vehicle's unyielding metalwork. Plus, the whole thing works in reverse. If you're hauling a particularly pointy, weighty or abrasive cargo, it could do untold damage to your vehicle's interior, seriously affecting its residual value. With ply lining, you can let the wood bear the brunt of what scuffs, scrapes or impacts there are, leaving the paint and metal beneath unscathed.

A plywood lining kit can be removed almost as easily as it is installed, you can replace the wood once it starts looking like it's been through the mill a bit or remove it altogether so that the van looks as new when the time comes to get a good price for it. Also worth remembering, is the fact that the flat walls in a ply-lined van are far easier to clean/sweep-out than the grooved, fixing-point ridden interior of an unlined vehicle. The process of keeping your vehicle dirt-free will be greatly simplified.

There are two basic routes you can go down when buying your lining. First there's the all-in one service where a company will manufacturer, supply and fit a plywood kit specially designed to fit your vehicle. The second is to buy the kit and fit it yourself. If you're a tradesman or even just a dab hand at DIY, the second option shouldn't present too much of a problem - after all, the kit will be ready-cut to fit your particular vehicle. If, however, you run a fleet of vans or you just don't trust your own ply lining abilities, you'll probably gravitate towards option one.

A good ply lining kit will be cut using a CNC router to the exact interior dimensions of the relevant vehicle. There are various options to consider when specifying the kit you want too. Do you what the wheel arches boxed in? Should the bulkhead be covered? Do you want lining on the roof panelling? Kits are often made to order and they're easily adaptable (you just lop an extra bit off), so you can really specify the layout that's best for you.

A ballpark price for a DIY 12mm ply lining kit for the sides and doors of a small panel van will be around £300 and this should include all the necessary fixings. Check if your quoted price includes delivery as moving one of these kits around can be tricky. If you want the whole thing fitted by the experts, you'll pay a bit more but most offer a mobile service for added convenience.