Wow, I didn’t realize quite how far behind I’ve gotten with updates on the van progress.  We’ve been getting a lot done, but at the expense of blog updates.  There are still a number of insulation-centric posts to come, and here comes one of them: Insulating the ribs on the walls and ceiling.

Ribs done

The original plan to insulate in the ribs was to use expanding spray foam everywhere, but after reading about SudoMcCoy’s troubles with it, we developed plan B.  It looked like SudoMcCoy had the most trouble where there were large gaps, and especially vertical openings.  So, to start, instead of using expanding spray foam, we cut small strips of pink fiberglass batting and carefully stuffed them into the ribs on the walls.

Fiberglass batting in rib

Then, we used more aluminum foil tape to seal them up.

Aluminum tape over holes

The tape over the holes can be pretty easy to puncture, so until we get coverings over them, we’ll just have to be extra careful.

With the walls done, we moved onto the sliding door foot well.  It is an awkward place with vertical metal ribs of it’s own, which makes getting complete coverage with  fiberglass batting in there difficult.  Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to get a picture of this exactly area before insulating it, so a few older pictures will have to suffice.  We had to remove the plastic step cover (again), hopefully for the last time.

Kept sliding door plastic step

Sure, we could have just left it alone, but you can see (hopefully) all the hollow space in there.  It seemed like a place that a lot of heat could be lost.

Sliding door foot well area

And since it would be hidden under a plastic step, we decided to risk using the expanding spray foam in there and see how it went.  Being very careful, it worked pretty well.  It does expand a lot, so be sure to stop spraying before you think you need to.  We let it cure overnight before using it anywhere else, and before putting the plastic step back on.  And here’s what we awoke to:

A tumor had grown out of the foot well overnight

Yep, a giant tumor had grown vertically out of one of the holes!  Apparently I used too much foam in that spot.  Luckily it didn’t ooze all over and just grew upward.  In the morning it was solid, and it broke clean off, no mess!

A tumor had grown out of the foot well overnight

Now we just need to do the ceiling ribs.  These only have tiny holes drilled in them every couple of inches, no large holes.  This is both a good and bad thing.  It is bad because we can’t stuff fiberglass batting (or pretty much anything) in them.  On the other hand, this is a good thing for using the expanding spray foam.  Before it cures, the spray foam is extremely sticky and yet, still runny.  It would be nearly impossible to get spray foam to stay put long enough to cure if there were large gaps in the ceiling, but because there are dozens of small holes…

Dozens of small holes were ideal for spray foam-ing the ceiling

We stuck the straw of the spray foam in each hole and gave it a few squirts, being sure to point the straw in all directions for full coverage.  It was still runny, but being careful and wiping up all the excess that continued to drip out for the next half hour, we didn’t have any big spills or problems.  Overnight, a few tumors grew vertically downward out of some of the holes, but surprisingly, they also did not ooze all over or even drip onto the floor!  They also broke clean off once cured.

Dozens of small holes were ideal for spray foam-ing the ceiling

That’s it for now.  There are still two ribs running the length of the van where the walls meet the roof that we haven’t done anything with.  Still trying to decide what to do with them as they would be hard to stuff with fiberglass, yet also have too large of holes to make using spray foam easy.