DIY Van Conversion | Insulation

Van Conversion
12.19.19
Disclosure:

I am not a van conversion professional or professional handyman. This is a documentation of my experience and you should make your own decisions on how to build your own van, and seek professional guidance if you are unsure. This blog post also contains affiliate links, so if you click a product link and buy from the merchant, I will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. Buying through my product links is the best way to say thanks if this blog post was at all helpful to you.

Insulation

Quick Note:

There are a ton of people arguing about insulation for campervans and at the end of the day, I decided installed insulation was the best insulation. I have no other van insulation experiences to compare this to, but I am comfortable and warm in it in winter conditions, and that is what the goal was.

Materials Used:
  • Self Adhesive Insulation Hangers – Quantity: ~300 – Length: 2.5″ (Buy on Amazon)
    • I hadn’t seen anyone using these online and they were so much better than what I saw everyone doing which was bracing each piece with spray adhesive and scrap wood. I didn’t have scrap wood in the exact lengths to do all the bracing and this was way faster for me doing it alone.
  • Self Locking Washers for Insulation Hangers – Quantity: ~300 (Buy on Amazon)
  • Polyiso Foamboard
    • Walls (R12)
      • 2, 1″ layers (R6)
    • Ceiling (R9.2)
      • 1, 1″ layer + 1, 1/2″ layer (R6, R3.2)
  • XPS Foamboard
  • Spray Foam (Buy on Amazon)
    • I probably used 15 cans of this. It is great because it also seals and helps hold the foam board in place.
    • Watch out for overfilling the rails on the side of the van, you could definitely create enough pressure to dent your van or even peel a rail off.
  • EZ Cool (Buy on Amazon)
    • I used EZ Cool as a dividing layer in areas where metal would be touching wood, in an attempt to lower conductive temperature transfer between the metal of the van and the interior of my van. It is also suppose to help reduce/eliminate squeaking from metal and wood rubbing against each other while you drive.
  • Thinsulate (I used 30 Sq Ft) (Buy on Amazon)
    • I used Thinsulate insulate to
      • Stuff into areas that would take a lot of spray foam to fill.
      • In areas where there was quite a bit of existing wiring that I didn’t want to permanently fill with spray foam.
      • Areas where you might want to access to fix things like brake lights, etc.
      • Between the headliner and metal of the van in the storage area above the drivers’ cabin.
      • On the wheel wells, attached with 3m Super 77.
    • You can do your entire van with Thinsulate, and it would be much easier to install, but it is pretty expensive and has a lower R-value. That said, people also comment on Polyiso board becoming less effective in the severe cold as well.
  • 3m Super 77 Adhesive Spray (Buy on Amazon)
    • I used this for extra adhesion on the ceiling insulation panels, to attach any Thinsulate & EZ Cool, and to attach smaller chunks of foam board that might not have been secured well with the hangers.

First I cut pieces of 1″ foam board to fit into the spaces created by the ribs. I used self-adhesive insulation hangers to hang them.

I had to be careful not to stab the nails through my hand when pushing the pieces on!

The first 1″ layer of foam board lines up perfectly with the vertical ribs, (see above) so the second layer can run over the entire large area created by the larger, horizontal ribs. This also leaves you with the horizontal ribs (which are the strongest) to attach your framework to. I filled the ribs and gaps between the foam board with spray foam as I went.

When putting on the two layers on the ceiling, I made sure to score the back sides of the foam board so it would bend to the curve of the ceiling. The first piece I did without scoring ended up having so much force between it being bent and gravity that it ripped the self-adhesive hangers off the metal. After that, I used the 3m adhesive spray and way more hangers and it held. The insulation and the hangers were completely flush with my 1×3 furring strips attached directly to the ribs of the van. I also cut the hangers short for the ceiling so that they did not protrude through the second, 1/2″ layer of foam. Once up, I filled the gaps with spray foam.

I used foam board for the upper panels on the doors and Thinsulate for the lower panel where you might want to access the inner workings and wiring inside the door.

Here you can see how I covered the exposed metal later on with EZ Cool. You can also see the small pieces of foam board I used on the top corner.

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