There are two basic reasons for insulation in a camper van, thermal and noise.  

  Although we don’t plan on winter camping, we are going to Alaska, and that can get cold even in the summer.   On the way we are going to take a swing thru the Western Parks, including the Grand Canyon, and that can certainly get hot.  For that matter, everyday driving here in Massachusetts can get to zero in the winter and the high 90’s in the summer.

Noise is also cut down with insulation, certainly while driving and also while camping.  Cargo vans are big empty boxes,   so it can make quite a difference.

There are several types of insulation, but two basic ones are foam and fiberglass.  There is also some reflective insulation.  The majority of the van will be insulated with sheets of styrofoam, mostly 2″ thick sheets.  It is easily cut with a hand saw.   To seal the joints and hold it in place, I used “Great Stuff”.  There are  several brands of this spray foam.  Some expands a lot and care must be taken not to bulge out any panels or even get it all over everything.  Rubber gloves are a good idea  - as well as masking areas that you don’t want it to get on.

The spray foam can be inserted in small holes in the metal ribs to get good coverage.

Van Insulation

Van Insulation

You can also see some plastic couduit that is in place for future wiring runs.   For the lower areas that will mostly be behind the bunks, we used white Masonite for the wall finish and put it on with self tapping metal screws.  First the Masonite was drilled, then while holding it into place, smaller holes were drilled thru to the metal for the screws.   Obviously you can avoid couduit or existing wiring.

One of the problems of foam is that it is harder to put in wiring after the foam is in place.  For the left back door with the door latch mechanism and some existing wiring, we used fiberglass so everything was easily accessible.    We will be able to check on settling and moisture by taking off the masonite later.

As shown on the interior shots, I used more 2″ styrofoam in the upper sidewalls covered by 1/4″ oak plywood.  For the top of the wals and the bend into the ceiling, I needed some more flexible foam, so I went some more mattress-type material..  It was available in 1 1/2″  and that ws the perfect thickness.   It is smooth on one side and has an eggcrate pattern on the other.    We put the smooth side against the van ceiling and used a little contact cement to hold it in place.

Ceiling Insulation

Ceiling Insulation

 It will be covered with oak plywood - 4′ wide along the top.    We think we will put carpet on the upper corners, it is much easier to bend it thru the 90 degrees.