Phil and Ginni Lyons
March 2, 2023

Side Aisle or Center Aisle

Post by: Gary Hatt - Publisher BCM 

If you were to convert a bus from scratch, knowing what you know now, would you build it with a Side Aisle or Center Aisle to get to the Bedroom and why? 

Post by: dtcerrato 

Center Aisle as we did ours. One of the advantages is further insulating of the side exterior walls lends to better HVAC, shallower storage on both sides instead of deeper storage on one side, more options to passageways from bottom compartments to the main cabin, and our list goes on. 

Post by: luvrbus 

We had a short side aisle at the bedroom.  We had that layout to have a large bedroom closet facing forward, and a refrigerator that faced forward not sideways.  Along the wall, my wife wanted a kitchen and bathroom, which meant you had to have a side aisle.  

Our current RV has a semi-center aisle, and my wife doesn’t care for it much because the refrigerator is not forward facing.  It is easy to raise the roof on the Eagle buses, so you will see a lot of side isles in the Eagle coaches.  The inside height dictates the type of isle; in the older buses, you may need a side-isle unless both are short people.

Post by: thomasinnv 

My first bus had a center aisle.  The second bus is a side aisle layout, and if I ever do another one it will have a side aisle as well.  I would much rather have a private bathroom and not have to go thru the bathroom to get to the bedroom. 

Post by: dtcerrato 

Our center aisle bus layout has a full private bath all on one side. 

Post by: luvrbus 

Center aisles do make for smaller bathrooms and are usually split.  Sonja doesn’t like that in our current coach.

Post by: Jim Blackwood

I put the shower on one side and the toilet and vanity on the other. My doors are set up so that you can close off just the small bathroom and leave the aisle and shower open or make it one big bathroom.

Post by: luvrbus 

Our setup is about the same except we have a large vanity in the bedroom area also.  We have plenty of room in the bedroom for the king-size bed since it has 2 slides. 

Post by: sledhead

My 1st coach had a side aisle.  The coach we have now has a center aisle.  We liked the side aisle better as it made a nicer layout. 

Post by: tr206 

In my case with an Eagle, a center aisle helps in case you need to remove the access panels in the floor. 

Post by: Gary Hatt - Publisher BCM 

One advantage of a center aisle is that if you have roof A/C units, which are almost always on the center line of the roof, like I have in my Eagle, and the air seems to flow better between rooms.

But the side aisle affords more privacy in the bedroom and may be better if someone is an early riser, whilst the other mate is not.  But then again, a door in the middle aisle will do about the same thing, right?

And yes, if you have a center aisle, you will have a split bath, but is that all that bad?  With a split bath, one person could be using the commode, and another one taking a shower at the same time.  The other disadvantage of having a split bath is that you may want to add two exhaust fans. One for the commode area and one for the shower to suck out the moisture.  But fans are cheap anyway.

Another disadvantage of a center aisle, as noted above, is that if the bathroom is occupied, no one can access the bedroom, which may or may not be a deal breaker.  And correct, you can put a door on each end, so you end up with one extra large bathroom if you like.   

Good point about the center aisle allowing more insulative air space between the outside walls and the living area.  It may not make a big difference, but everything helps.

Quote from: tr206

In my case with an Eagle, a center aisle helps in case you need to remove the access panels in the floor.

Good point, but they usually get covered over with flooring anyway. 

Post by: thomasinnv 

Re: my earlier post stating “… I ever do another one it will be side aisle as well. I would much rather have a private bathroom and not have to go through the bathroom to get to the bedroom.”

To clarify, the setup is kind of both. The aisle is off-center but not against the outside wall.  There is a full wardrobe on one side and a full bathroom on the other. The bathroom door is set up so that it opens into the hallway and sections of the wardrobe from the front area. There is a full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door for the wife. 

Post by: thomasinnv

All my access panels are under the bed or under removable nightstands. 

Post by: Dave5Cs

Our aisle setup runs in the center, and the bath is all in one room.  If privacy is wanted just close the bathroom door and you still can go by to the bedroom. If changing and need the room just open the bath door out into the hall and open the pantry door at the kitchen end and you have a big bath. Or open the other side closet door same thing. As we are full-timing, we need all the storage we can muster, and that layout provides a lot of it. 

Post by: luvrbus

With a mid-door entry like you have Gary with your Eagle, one doesn’t have much of a choice except a center aisle.  The mid-door entry on a bus is another can of worms.  The fad now is building these things with a bath and a half.  

Post by: Jim Blackwood

I can close the doors to the bathroom and the isle is clear into the bedroom. Plenty of space in the bathroom, shower is on the other side of the hall.

Of course, to take a shower the front door should be closed for privacy which by necessity means the bathroom is not available to anyone not in the bedroom. The rear door to the bedroom can be closed or open as desired. The two doors combine to make the wall that closes off the bathroom from the isle. As the shower will have a frosted door it would be possible to use the toilet while someone is in the shower with adequate privacy to both, it just means whoever is in the shower might want to wait to leave it until the bathroom is clear and the front door is closed again. See the full thread here. 

Article written by Phil and Ginni Lyons

Phil Lyons has been a Bus Nut and moderator of the Bus Conversion Magazine forum for many years. He and his wife Ginni live in the central highlands of Arizona.  Phil’s day job is in IT Security and Ginni is a retired Registered Nurse.

They are the proud parents and grandparents of daughters, granddaughters, and two spoiled dogs.

Phil and Ginni are part of a bluegrass/gospel trio called Copper Mountain StringAlong, are members of Bethel Baptist Church in Prescott Valley, and volunteer and serve in various capacities in the church and the community.

RVing has been part of their lives for over 35 years, and they both hope to enjoy the bus lifestyle for many more years.

You can contact Phil via email at

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