19/06/2018 - Hardboard V's Plywood

The argument of hardboard V’s plywood interior panels is something that splits the VW world, many believe that hardboard is best (as it is used originally by VW and is perfect for trimmed boards), whereas many others believe that plywood is best (as it is structurally stronger and used for after market van lining).

This is why we made the decision to offer both hardboard trimmed panels and plywood trimmed panels, as here at Optimise we don’t believe that either/or is a better and/or worse option.

The honest truth is that both hardboard & plywood have advantages & disadvantages and we truly believe that the choice is down to personal preference and/or experience.

To help you decide we have put together the following arguments (for both hardboard & plywood) and fingers crossed this helps clear a few things up, which will help you decide on the base material, for your new VW Transporter interior panels.


The biggest compliment you can give hardboard is that it is used originally (by VW) and it is still used today (original T6 interior panels are manufactured using hardboard). Hardboard is the perfect material to use for panel lining - it is lightweight, strong, flexible and easily trimmed. Four things that make is superior for panel trimming and installation.

However, over a prolonged period of time hardboard “could” loose it shape, but only if (and it is a very big “if”) the van is not water tight and/or you do not install the panels correctly.

As a result, if water is getting into your van (that may effect the interior panels), over a period of time hardboard panels “might” warp and in this instance, we would recommend that you consider going for plywood panels. Otherwise (if you have a water tight van and are confident of installing the panels correctly and securely), we would recommend going for hardboard panels.


The biggest compliment you can give plywood is that everyone who lines a van (non-trimmed panels) uses plywood. Plywood is perfect for lining vans - it is lightweight, structural, durable and semi flexible. Four things that make it superior for lining vans.

However, van lining and van panel lining are two different things - unlike van lining, your newly trimmed panels will be secured in place using the original fixings (and fit within the vans structural framework, as opposed to on top of it). This means that you shouldn’t have to worry about the material “needing” to be structural. In addition to this, plywood is less flexible than hardboard - meaning it can be harder to install (especially on Splitscreen & Bay cab door cards and/or rear quarter panels).

Plywood is superior to hardboard though if it gets wet and as mentioned above, if you have a leaky van we would recommend that you consider going for plywood panels.

As a result, plywood does the job and a little bit more (as it is better if it gets wet), but it is harder to install (especially if you have a van with shaped panels).

To be honest (as we mentioned above), neither is superior and the decision is completely down to personal preference and/or experience.

We believe that it is best to offer both options (which is why we made the decision to offer both options) - simply as so many of you are so passionate about either hardboard or plywood panels (we basically thought “why not keep everyone happy?”).

Anyway, whatever material you choose (as the base material for your new VW Transporter interior panels) you will be thrilled and the panels will last for years.

Good luck making a decision.

The Optimise Automotive team