Removing the ceiling and walls in a school bus is a strenuous task. If you have done your research you already know that the decision to remove them is a hot topic in the skoolie community. If you are still trying to decide if you want to tackle this task, click here to read why you should or should not remove the ceiling/walls.

skoolie ceiling and walls

How to Remove the Ceiling and Walls in Your Bus 

Before tackling this task, you must know how your ceiling was installed. There are two ways that bus manufactures use to affix the metal to the bus frame. At Skoolie Homes, we have found that the ceiling and walls in Thomas buses usually have screws. The Bluebird buses usually have rivets.  Does your bus have rivets or screws? Determining this will dictate the best way to remove the ceiling and walls in your bus. In this post, I will explain the options for removing the ceiling and walls in your bus depending on if your bus has screws or rivets.

Safety First:

Be sure to wear your Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

  • Gloves
  • Earplugs
  • Safety Glass
  • Protective clothing

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

My bus was built using screws in the ceiling and walls

If your bus ceiling and walls have screws, go ahead and do the happy dance. Then grab your drill with a screwdriver bit and get to work. On average there are about 1000 screws in the ceiling. I have known some people who like to save them and count how many screws they removed. If you count your loose screws, tell me how many you removed in the comments below.

One thing to keep in mind is just because your bus ceiling and walls have been installed with screws does not mean that a drill and screwdriver bit will be the only tool needed. There will be more than one screw that is rusted into place or is stripped out. Here is where you will need one of the options below.  

URGH,,, My Bus Has Rivets

First off remember that any task done with a positive attitude is accomplished easier. My Mama always told me, “half the battle is in your mind.” You can do this!! Let’s tackle those rivets. 

Option 1: Removing the ceiling and walls with an air chisel

Believe me when I tell you that we have tried a plethora of ideas when it comes to removing the rivets from a school bus. The way we have found that works the best for our team is by using an Air Chisel. There are 2 bits that you need when using the air chisel. The first one is a punch bit and the second one is the hammer chisel bit with the “v” or notch in the center. 

If you are debating whether to buy an air chisel and compressor, it is worth it!! Check out the link below for the free comprehensive tools checklist.

 Free Comprehensive Tool Checklist

Read more

Option 2: Removing the ceiling and walls with an angle grinder

Using an angle grinder is a hot and time-consuming job. The first thing to know is to be realistic. I have had several people say, “I seriously thought that I could get the ceiling out in a day.”

Come on now, let’s keep it real!!

Keeping your expectation real during the entire conversion project will set you up for success.  Plan on having a helper or 2 when removing the ceiling and give yourself at least 4 days. When removing the walls if you do this task solo give yourself 4 days but this is if you are leaving your bus windows in place. 

In addition to the angle grinder, you will need a crowbar and hammer in order to pop the rivets loose after you grind off the head of the rivet.

Need a little tutoring? Floor Plan Consultation with Missy.

Step by Step How-To Help When Removing the Ceiling and Walls in Your Bus

If you are the type of person that is ready to get your project moving so you can be living the adventure, don’t waste time searching through hours of YouTube. Or by hanging out for hours reading blog posts.

We have a DIY Skoolie Masterclass, we will walk you through each step of the conversion process from helping you decide the right bus to purchase, to gutting your bus, to installing plumbing, to explaining how to complete a pre-trip inspection before your next adventure and everything in between.  You can check out the course here.  DIY Skoolie Masterclass

OH, and if you are the hands-on learning type, check out our events page for our Skoolie University Workshop dates.

Tell us below if your bus has screws or rivets and who is the manufacturer of your bus. 

Hey, did you count your screws or rivets?

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