Before I bought the van I watched a ton of videos of people using spray foam to insulate their vans. This seemed like a great idea as it would fill in a lot of gaps and should act as sound deading and installation all in one application. But then I started hearing about the problems of spray foam. I will not get into if it is toxic or environmentally safe as I do not know enough about this product to make a judgment. But what I did find was a product called Thinsulate. This product came highly recommended and so the research lead us to the 3M Thinsulate Acoustic/Thermal Insulation SM600L (40′ x 60″).
I also heard about the thin walls of this van and how even Ford uses a DYNAMAX product on the roof to keep from road vibrations. I used Kilmat 50 mil 50 sqft Car Sound Deadening Mat, Butyl Automotive Sound Deadener, Audio Noise Insulation , this product worked well in the dampening and so I ordered a full box of this product. I could have used about 10 more pieces than this one box contains but I purchased a small roll at the hardware store to make up the small uncovered areas. I did not cover every inch of space, I would stick a square in each area similar to the ones most of you have on the roof of your van. I have to say what an amazing difference this made while driving down a road. Now the van is still empty at this point so you hear just about everything. To help with road noise I did cover the entire wheel wells that stick through the floor interior.
Once we were happy with our soundproofing we installed the Thinsulate on the ceiling. This was quite easy with the titanium scissors and some 3M High Strength 90 spray on adhesive. Cut to size, spray the ceiling and then spray one side of the Thinsulate. We gave it a few minutes to set and then pushed it up on the ceiling. It stuck right away as I was concerned about how it would stick. Finishing the walls and thin cutting thin stripes we were able to fish them down into the framework of the van.
As a trial run, I took the van to a bike race in Lucerne Valley, called the Ride in the Rocks, this is event allows for trail runners and mountain bikers to race against the clock and their friends at the base of the Big Bear Mountains. This last year they offered racers the ability to spend the night and so I spent the night in the van, no lights, ceiling or cool features but it let me know that insulate was a great choice. It got down to about 20 degrees that night and the van was cold but doable. Now with the walls and ceiling in place, it is even warmer. More on those builds in future blogs.