How Tall Is a School Bus (Inside & Outside Height for Conversion)

How Tall Is a School Bus

One factor you need to consider when converting a school bus into your home is its height. This includes the height of both the interior and exterior.

If you do not know the height, it can be difficult to convert or drive the bus properly.

If you want to live a van life but need enough room to stand up straight, you may want to convert a school bus as opposed to a regular van.

School buses obviously provide more size and space, allowing you to live more comfortably on the road.

So, how tall Is a school bus in feet? On average school buses will be around 6.5 feet tall on the inside and around 10.5 feet on the exterior.

In this article, we will also provide school bus conversion tips so that you can start enjoying your life on the road sooner.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

School Bus Size

how tall is a school bus inside? There are actually quite a few buses on the market today. Most school buses will be about 6.5 feet tall on the inside. This measurement is taken from the floor to the top part of the ceiling. It’s important to note that the ceiling on most buses is curved.

The exact size of the curve will depend on the bus you select. Most older buses have more of a curve, causing the side height to be much shorter. Newer buses, on the other hand, have flatter ceilings, which results in taller buses.

How tall is a school bus outside? The outside of the bus will be much taller. Most buses today are about 10.5 feet on the exterior. If the bus also includes an escape hatch, that can add an additional 4 inches.

With this in mind, the outside of the bus will typically be about four feet taller than the interior.

Read also: How Long Is A School Bus: School Bus Size, Lengths, Dimension To Consider for Conversion

Why Does Ceiling Height Matter?

The ceiling height on your school bus matters a lot. The interior matters because it allows you to live comfortably.

For example, if you get an older school bus, the height may be shorter, causing the living experience to be uncomfortable for tall people.

If you know the interior ceiling height, you can think of new ways to make the bus more livable and fun. This can lead to ideal conversion ideas and tips.

Without knowing the height first, though, it can be difficult to know what exactly you should do to the bus.

The exterior roof height is especially important as well. Unlike cars and small SUVs, buses are really large and not able to go underneath all overpasses.

It’s important to know the roof height so that you know what you can fit under when driving.

“Most bus drivers do not recommend driving underneath an overpass that is under 11 feet tall. This makes it clear that the bus will fit underneath the overpass, including the escape hatch and any other items placed on the top.”

Additionally, knowing the exterior height can further help you know how to convert the bus. If the bus is already on the tall side, there are certain conversions you might not want to do.

On the contrary, a short bus may allow you to do full conversions safely.

With this in mind, knowing the height of your bus is crucial for converting it into a livable van. Unless you know the height of both the interior and the exterior, you won’t be able to convert the bus so that you can live in it comfortably and safely.

Read also: Does RV Height Include Air Conditioners? (Average RV Height & Regulation)

How Can I Find Out How Tall My School Bus Is?

Finding out how tall your school bus is isn’t that difficult. Most buses will actually say the height of the bus above the entrance door.

This makes it super easy to find out exactly how tall your bus is without contacting any manufacturers. If this number has been rubbed off, you can always measure it yourself or contact the manufacturer.

School Bus Conversion Tips

If you are converting a school bus into your whole time livable van, there are three things you will likely want to do to the bus before moving in.

This primarily includes adjusting the floor plans, insulation, and roof height. Let’s take a look at each of these conversion areas in more detail.

1.    Floor Plans

When most people make floor plans, they fail to think about the height of the bus. To make the most of your floors, you need to know exactly how much space you have upwards.

For example, you need to know how tall the roof is if you are installing islands, couches, and other areas that need headroom.

If there are items you need to add to your bus that need more headroom, it’s best to install them right at the center of the bus.

Because buses tend to have a more curved ceiling, the very center will offer the most headroom. Showers, door frames, and doors should especially be placed at the center of the bus.

We will discuss this more later, but floor plans can change if you decide to raise the roof. With a higher roof, you can add more unique floor plans, such as bunk beds, full showers, hanging ceiling fans, and more.

2.    Insulation

In order for your school bus to feel comfortable while you are living in it, you need to add insulation. The insulation will help to keep the temperature within the bus more regulated.

The issue with insulation is that it actually takes away from the overall height.

Most people like to add insulation on the roof, sides, and floor, but this isn’t absolutely required. If you are on the tall side, for example, you might not want to add insulation on both the floor and the ceiling since it will take away the overall height.

If you only pick one, we recommend insulating the ground. You want to remove the rubber and vinyl floor before adding installation.

Read also: Can I Use My RV Toilet in the Winter or In Cold Weather (Yes, Here Is How)

You also want to add on a new floor that looks much more attractive than the traditional rubber bus floor. This should be a couple of millimeters thick, but the more insulation you add the thicker it will be.

Read also: Are Airstreams Insulated? (Best R Value Insulation)

Raising Roof

If you need more headroom in your bus, you also have the option of raising your roof. Raising the roof will add more headroom at the top.

In order to raise the roof, you basically remove the bus’s original ceiling, create supports, and add a new roof on the higher struts. Finally, use sheet metal to fill in the gaps to create the completed look.

“The obvious benefit of raising the roof is that you have much more headspace. If you or your family are particularly tall, this might be an option you have to do so that you can comfortably stand up.”

Not only will this allow you to stand up taller, but it will make you feel less cramped.

With the taller roof, you can get a bit more creative with the full floor plan. For example, some people who raised a bus roof added bunk beds for children.

It’s really up to you what floor plan you decide on with a raised roof bus.

Read also: How Much Weight Can an RV Roof Hold? (RV Roof Weight Capacity)

You might also be able to add more insulation with the raised roof. Adding insulation will cost a bit more, but it will save you money in terms of keeping the interior temperature regulated during use.

It will also make the bus much more comfortable to live in.

Of course, the downside of raising the roof is that it costs quite a bit more money. Plus, it can make the bus more difficult to drive.

Since buses are already taller and not capable of going underneath all overpasses, you will need to be especially careful when driving a bus with a raised roof.

Read also: How Much Wind Can a Pop Up Camper Take? Is It Dangerous?

School Bus Dimensions And Weight

As we already discussed, most school buses are 6.5 feet tall inside and 10.5 feet tall outside. In addition to knowing the school bus height, you also might want to know the length and the width.

Most full-sized school buses are more than 35 feet long. This allows them to have a 72 to 90 passenger capacity. Obviously, mid-sized and mini school buses will be shorter.

As for the width, most school buses are about the same width – 8 to 9 feet wide. School buses that are smaller may be only 6 feet wide.

In the bus width, you also need to factor in the windows. Most windows on a school bus are 10 x 2.5 x 7.5 feet.

Because school buses are so large, they are incredibly heavy, as you would expect. The average-sized school bus is 8500 kilograms.

This is a rough estimate that is based on a regular-sized school bus. School buses that are larger or smaller than the average size will be a different weight.

Read also: How Much Weight Can an RV Roof Hold? (RV Roof Weight Capacity)

Mini vs. Mid vs. Full School Buses

School buses typically come in three sizes: mini, mid, and full. The dimensions we mentioned above all apply to a full-sized school bus.

Mini- and mid-sized school buses are obviously smaller. Mini school buses are typically between 20 and 25 feet long, whereas mid-sized school buses are 25 to 35 feet long.

As for passenger capacity, mini school buses can typically only handle 10 to 15 passengers, whereas mid-sized school buses can handle 54 to 78.

If you are traveling alone or with one other person, a mini or mid-sized school bus will likely be enough for your travels. However, we recommend a full school bus if you are traveling with partners, children, and pets.

The additional space of a full-sized school bus will come in handy.

Final Thoughts

Overall, school buses are typically 6.5 feet tall on the inside and 10.5 feet tall on the outside. You can add to this height by raising the ceiling, but you can also take away from it by adding more insulation.

Depending on the exact height of the interior ceiling, you can add different or unique ideas to the floor plan.

If your bus is on the short side, we recommend raising the roof. Although this will be more expensive, it will give you more room to stand up and stretch.

It will also allow you to insulate the bus without taking away too much height from the already short interior.

No matter what conversion ideas you select, remember to be careful when driving a school bus.

Even if you do not raise the roof, school buses are not able to fit under all overpasses. Be aware of the exterior height so that you can safely drive the school bus.


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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