How To Convert A Flatbed Trailer Into A Personal Camper

Alyssa Murray

If you are considering purchasing a camper this coming holiday or next tax season, there is an alternative to that enormous "personal bus on wheels." You can check out a trailer dealer lot like Camping World of Ocala instead, buy any size flatbed utility trailer, and convert it into a personal camper. Here is how.

Select and Purchase Your Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed trailers come in all lengths, the shortest of which could accommodate two people in sleeping bags. Double-axle, double-long, and double-wide flatbed utility trailers can effectively allow several people to sleep on its flatbed. What you do not want for this project is any trailer you cannot comfortably stretch out on or trailers that are intentionally constructed with open spaces in their beds. Also, make sure that the trailer you select has a hitch connection that fits with the hitch on your car or truck, or you will have to spend more money converting the hitch on the trailer to one that fits with your vehicle's hitch connection.

Design Your Own Camper or Choose from Designs and Plans Online

You are essentially building a camper from the floorboards up. You can design your own (which is not difficult at all because you already have the basic dimensions) or you can buy designs and plans from online companies that are structural and mechanical experts. You will need to decide if you want one story or two, although with a double-wide and/or double-long trailer you could feasibly do three stories. Just keep in mind that you still have to purchase your lumber, fasteners, insulation, siding and roofing materials.

Purchase Your Building Supplies and Build the Framework

You will need enough lumber to construct the four walls of your homemade camper, plus lumber to build upwards if you are going to have more than one story. Buy a few boxes of wood screws and a few boxes of carpenter nails too. With a hammer, drill, and saw, construct the framework of your camper and fit it to the trailer's four sides. Secure the framework to the trailer's four sides, either with wood screws or with long carpenter nails. Then secure the framework ends to each other. Be sure to leave openings in the framework for your door and any windows you want your camper to have.

Panel The Framework

Next, affix particle board or planks to the exterior of your framework using nails or screws, your choice. Inside, you will need to install rolled insulation in the spaces between the studs of the framework. You can either use more particle board to close in the insulation, or you can use gypsum board before you plaster. On the exterior, apply your chosen siding. On the inside, plaster over the particle board and/or gypsum board, smoothing it out or creating textures. Now you can either paint the interior or apply wood paneling a la 1970's camper style. Install a door, windows, a roof, and a few fold-down bunks, and you have a trailer camper that can be upgraded with more amenities anytime.