Welcome to this blog about how to do a campervan insulation project. This is actually a major part of your DIY campervan conversion! If you’re considering buying an empty van and making it into a comfortable home, be sure to keep reading 🙂
The next step in my campervan conversion
After we had completely stripped the van and cleaned it (see below picture), it was time to put the insulation in! In this detailed blog I will explain why you need insulation in your van, what types are out there, why I chose mine and the process I followed to all the insulation in. To conclude, I will tell you how it’s going with the temperature on my trip 😉
Why Insulation for your van is important
Together with ventilation in your campervan, campervan insulation can be your best friend in keeping your van in a good state!
Water is your worst enemy in small space like a campervan. If your van gets moist and the water cannot go anywhere, it can start to create rust or mold. You will see your van getting moist especially when you’re cooking inside, or when waking up after a night with high temperature differences between inside and outside.
If you look at it plainly, an empty van is just a metal box. When sun hits metal, it gets very hot. So will your van ;-). If it gets cold outside and your van is poorly isolated, the temperature won’t be much different from outside!
During the build I had it rain upon the van a couple of times when the insulation was not in there yet. It was SO noisy!! Also the driving makes quite a lot of noise that you will want to mute.
What type of insulation to pick for your van
This is a difficult question and the internet is full of articles on it. Make it depend on where you live (I’m in the Netherlands with SO MUCH rain! If you live in the desert you probably worry less about moist 🙂
I considered four types of insulation, but I’m sure there are many more out there! It’s not easy to pick as you hear a lot of different stories. Also, some forms of insulation may work great for houses but less for small campers.
1. Insulation panels
There are many insulation panels on the market. They are usually very thick and rigid (hard to put in corners and non-straight areas) but insulate well. Some are better than others if it comes to how they handle moist. One thing that I find is that they are (or look to me 😉 ) very chemical.
2. Spray Foam
One other approach I came across was people spraying all the walls with green-white-ish spray-foam. Talking about chemical 🙂
I also considered sheepwool because it’s an ecological and natural product. The insulating characteristics of this material are good, but I understand that sheepwhool does not handle moist very well.
In the end, I went with Xtrem, an affordable, lightweight, easy to attach insulation material that is completely waterproof.
Xtrem 10mm Self-Adhesive Insulation Material
The Xtrem material is known for its noise-cancelling and temperature regulating qualities and is especially suitable for liveable spaces. In addition, it’s water resistant – it can actually float on water. This is in contrast with many other insulation materials that absorb water like sponges.
I picked the Self-Adhesive version to save myself the head-ache of a lot of issues with glue. One of the camper builders I had talked to always used the regular Xtrem material. They would cut all the pieces in advance, then spray glue across the whole van and paste it. This seemed like a difficult process, so I went with Xtrem self-adhesive version.
I picked the 10mm version because it seemed easier to cut and more flexible to put in the curves of the van. In hindsight, I probably could have taken the 20mm for the floor, but that would have left a lot material from the whole role. So I’m happy with the 10mm as it was extremely easy to work with.
I ordered it online, paid €27,90 per 100x200cm and I needed 4 roles. I had many small pieces left that I used to cover the tyres and doors.
The process of insulating the van
You may expect a long difficult process with a long instruction video here. Nope 😉 A 1,5 minute video and just a couple of short alineas of explanation.
We cleaned the floor and glued wooden sticks on it, to attach the floor to later. We unpacked the first role and did some small tests with cutting and sticking the material.
Measuring the straight parts is quite easy. Where it gets a bit more difficult are the curvy parts. A flexible measurer helps a lot and you can also just place the material against the wall make a small incision on where it should be cut.
Luckily the material is very easy to cut with a sharp utility knife (stanley knife). I always used a plank or steel part to cut straight. I also mades sure to cut 1-2 cm too much in case my measuring was off, so I could simply cut off the remainders. This was a pretty easy and fun process!
Easy – taking of the sticky layer and put it on the wall 🙂 It’s easiest done with two people because you can make sure each side goes equal, but it can definitely be done with only one person. I usually started off at the top, leaving some of the paper on and stripping it going down.
That’s it 😉
The result of my DIY Campervan Insulation
This whole process took about one day. Then some extra time to use up the small left-over parts and after we put in the ventilator, we isolated that part of the ceiling too.
After we put in the the insulation on the ceiling, it rained again (obviously, as I was in the Netherlands), but now the sounds was much less! Mission accomplished 🙂 I have been on the road for a little over 2 months now and I’m quite happy with the campervan insulation method used. Of course, when it’s 38 degrees outside or it freezes -5, it’s uncomfortable in the van. But when the temperatures are moderate, the temperature in the van stays very nice. Also at night when it gets colder, it’s still snug and cozy in the van 🙂
Insulating your windows
Even though your walls may be superbly isolated, you still have your windows that will cause a lot of heat loss (or increase with the sun on them). The most simple and also relatively affordable solution are window insulation sets that are usually available for any type of van. I have bought them for the front of the van, but will soon also make them myself for the side windows and the backwindows to survive in winter 🙂
Here a quick video showing how the easy it is to use the Xtrem material.
Other great resources on campervan insulation that discuss several different insulating options are: