pre-insulation

Insulation.  A necessary evil.  On one hand, insulation is wonderful for keeping in the warmth in the winter, and keeping out the hot in the summer.  On the other hand, insulation is such a pain to deal with.  Why?  Mostly because of the numerous options and types of insulation, and installation schemes.  It is possible to spend days or weeks researching how best to insulate, and then how to best secure it to the walls, floor, and ceiling.  I’ve seen vans and RVs insulated with hard foam board, expanding spray foam, fiberglass batting, reflectix, bubble-wrap, blankets, denim batting, and even nothing at all.  Every option has it’s benefits as well as it’s pit falls.  The truth is, none of these are perfect and you’ll just have to decide how to insulate based on your expected uses of the van.  You also have to keep in mind how thick or thin you want the walls to be.  The walls can quickly become multiple inches thick, eating into the already limited space in a van.I’m not going to get into any specifics of all the options for insulating and the pros and cons of each because frankly, I just don’t have the motivation.

The insulation for Blanche consists of multiple layers.  It may not be the best way to do things, or the cheapest, but it’s what we’re doing… and anything is better than nothing.  Time will tell how well it all works out.

  • The walls and roof will be layered as such: Van sheet metal -> Roadkill Sound Dampener -> Pink Extruded Polystyrene Foam Board -> Reflectix (bubble wrap with aluminum foil) -> Marine Carpet (or something similar).
  • The floor will be layered as such: Van sheet metal -> Roadkill Sound Dampener -> Pink Extruded Polystyrene Foam Board -> 3/4″ plywood, painted or varnished for water resistance -> rubber cargo mat already in the van will go on top (it is cushioned and easy to clean).  We’ll use expanding spray foam to fill in all the tiny nooks and crannies.
  • The doors will be layered as such: Van sheet metal -> Roadkill Sound Dampener -> Pink Fiberglass batting -> Reflectix, anchored to the inside of the interior plastic panel.

Roadkill Expert Series Sound Dampener  This is a butyl rubber based product.  1/8″ of self adhering rubber with aluminum foil backing.  There are claims that sound dampening material only needs to have partial coverage to be effective (which is true) and many people that use some sort of sound dampening material only use it in select areas.  We chose to do 100% coverage.  Why?  Mainly because of rain and hail.  If you’ve ever been in a vehicle, trailer, or RV during heavy rain or hail, you know just how loud it can get inside.  Now, just imagine that inside a hollow tin can!  We want to mitigate as much of that noise as possible, and now is a much better time to apply that much dampener than later in the future.  To cover the roof, floor, walls, and doors of Blanche, we had to get 6 “bulk” boxes each containing 9 2’x3′ sheets.  It took us 4 weeks to get the cargo area completely done.  We still need to do the front cab area and front doors (we have 1.5 boxes left to do it), but that can wait.  We are desperate to stop couch surfing and move into the van.

Pink Extruded Polystyrene Foam Board  3M 90 spray contact cement was used to glue the 1/2″ pink foam panels to the Roadkill.  This glue will “melt” polystyrene, but there is a thin plastic sheet on both layers of the foam.  We didn’t want to use any thicker of a foam panel because it would be too rigid to bend to the curve of the walls and roof.  I’m not sure if this glue will break down with the hot and cold of the van, so we used aluminum tape along all the edges and seams to help keep it adhered.  Time will tell.

Reflectix  There is a ton of debate on the effectiveness of this stuff.  Many say the “R” rating is completely false, while others say “R” value doesn’t apply because it’s only a heat barrier and not technically insulation.  According to the manufacturers, for it to be most effective, there must be around 1/2″ air gap behind the reflectix.  This is the reason why we put the foam board behind the reflectix.  The foam will give us 1/2″ of dead air space.  Will this help?  Will the foam work or do we need real air space?  I have no idea, but we’ll see how this works out.  We actually got reflectix that has two layers of bubble wrap, Foil/Bubble/Bubble/Foil.  Spray contact cement and tape will be used to install it.

Marine Carpet  We haven’t yet ordered this.  This may not even be what is actually used, either, but geometric hulliner seems to be our best bet at the moment.  It will just be glued on like the foam and reflectix or we’ll use some sort of mechanical fastener for easy removal.