Skoolie Advice on Removing the Original Bus Walls and Ceiling

Removing the original bus walls and ceiling is a highly debated topic within the skoolie community. Truth is whether you leave the original bus walls and ceiling or take them out is totally up to you. In consultations with clients, we discuss this topic in detail. Grab your favorite beverage and hang out with me while I give you the scoop.  The conversation starts something like this…

Removing school bus walls and ceiling

Should I Remove the Original Bus Walls and Ceiling?

When our clients ask us whether they should remove the original bus walls and ceiling this is what I tell them. Start by answering these questions.

# 1 Are you allergic to mold?

If so, decide if leaving the existing insulation behind the walls and ceiling is going to cause you a health problem. If this is not going to be your fulltime home, decide if you need to remove the insulation. You can remove the emergency hatch and check the condition of the insulation around the edges. You can also remove several speakers or dc lights and check the insulation behind them. Now granted this is not 100% accurate but it might help you decide the best option to take.

#2 Is the skoolie going to be your full-time home?

 Knowing that you will be living full time in the skoolie might be the one answer that causes you to decide to remove the original bus walls and ceiling. Then, again you may need to answer a few more questions. But if this is going to be your weekend getaway home for adventure then you might decide to leave the existing walls and ceiling.

#3 Are you going to be in extreme cold and hot climates?

If our clients answer YES to this question then my recommendation is to remove the walls and ceiling every time. The insulation is about 2 inches thick but we can increase the R-factor by installing new insulation. 

#4 Would you like to raise the roof on the bus?

Here again, if the answer is YES, then I recommend removing the original bus walls and ceiling.

#5 Do you want to look at the metal ceiling or is your style less industrial?

If you are planning on having a wood ceiling then at Skoolie Homes we remove the original bus ceiling.

Now that I have answered the questions, how to decide what option to take?

If you answered NO to more than 3 of these questions, then you might want to leave the original bus walls and ceiling.

If you answered YES to more than 3 of these questions, then it would be my recommendation that you remove the original bus walls and ceiling. 

After we discuss whether or not to remove the walls and ceiling, the next question I get is… If I decide not to remove the original bus walls and ceiling, How can I make sure the ceiling and wall do not leak?”

I explain this answer in-depth in our DIY Skoolie Master Class. Did you know we have a course that will help you answer this question and many more? You can check out the DIY Skoolie Master Class link below and enroll now!

Why would I leave in the original bus walls and ceiling?

Some skoolie owners do not want to or can’t remove the walls and ceiling. The task of removing these are messy, hot, tedious, and at points stressful. Some people do not want to go to the expense of removing the original bus walls and ceiling or the expense of installing a new ceiling.  Due to this being a vacation home or adventure mobile, some people choose to leave the walls and ceiling because they are not living in it.  

If you could only remove one, the walls or the ceiling which would you remove?

My answer every time is, “I would remove the walls.”  In my experience, I have seen leaks around the windows more than leaks from the ceiling. The insulation in the walls is dirtier and has more mold on it than the insulation in the ceiling. If you are in an extremely cold climate and chose to leave the original bus walls, you can feel the temperature difference from the side wall and an interior wall. The side wall will be colder.  

Would you remove the original bus walls and ceiling in your skoolie?

The short answer is YES.

Now, let me tell you why. Jeff and I have converted and lived in 2 skoolies. The first one we didn’t remove the walls or ceiling. Heck, we didn’t even add insulation on top of the existing walls in our first skoolie. We were in TX in the middle of winter and it snowed. YES, it snowed in TX! Our tanks froze and we were cold. Let’s just say as soon as I could warm up enough to venture out from under the covers, coffee in hand, we packed up the skoolie and headed west.

Our second skoolie, we left the ceiling and walls. This time, Jeff insulated on top of the existing walls with 2 inches of insulation. Due to time constraints, we didn’t remove the ceiling either.  We lived in our skoolie on Edisto Island off the coast of SC in the middle of summer. It had 2 rooftop AC units and we stayed comfortable at 72 degrees all summer long.  Recently, we gutted this bus to find that the insulation was in good shape. There was no mold on the original insulation behind the walls or the ceiling. The insulation that Jeff put in on top of the metal walls looked brand new. In fact, we are recycling it for our next Skoolie.

So why would you remove the walls and ceiling?

For the same reasons that I tell our clients and have just shared with you. I answered YES to 3 of the questions above. Stay tuned to our journey and you will find out which three.

Are you going to remove the original bus walls and ceiling? We would love to hear from you. Tell us in the comments below.

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