Ceiling and Wall Insulation – Camper Van Build 3

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In the previous build, Flooring insulation, we were mainly concerned with engine and road noise, so we laid the ultra touch insulation with the jean material (sound deadening) face down. Now, with the ceiling and walls, we’ll want to focus on deflecting the heat from the sun. We can accomplish this by first attaching the Ultra Touch Radiant Barrier to the vans ceiling and walls with the foil surface facing the metal, then we’ll add a layer or two of foam ceiling and wall insulation.

Tools and Supplies Needed

  1. Marker
  2. Scissors
  3. Brown Builder’s Paper
  4. Cardboard
  5. Utility Knife
  6. Industrial Shears
  7. Ultra Touch Radiant Barrier
  8. RMax Foam Insulation Board
  9. Roberts Double-Sided Carpet Tape
  10. Flex Fix Tape
  11. Paint Thinner

Astro Camper Van Ceiling and Wall Insulation

This was the first time we’d dealt with having to get the the Ultra Touch insulation to stick to a surface, so we figured it was best to start on a wall and test out the installation process. We knew we wanted to put the foil side against the metal wall of the van to provide a radiant barrier from the sun, but we weren’t sure how well it would stick to the wall.

Watch Build 3 video – Ceiling and Wall Insulation

Luckily, our hunch was right. We went with Roberts Double-Sided Carpet Tape to adhere the foil side of the insulation to the ceiling and wall of the van. This stuff was extremely sticky. It cut easily with regular scissors, but the scissors over time would become sticky and needed to be cleaned with paint thinner.

ceiling and wall insulation

Roberts Carpet Tape Applied to Van Wall

The first step, however, was to pull out our trusty brown builder’s paper, cut out an approximate piece for the area we wanted to place the insulation, then trace it and cut it, like we did with the insulation for the flooring. (check that out here: van flooring insulation templates)

Industrial Shears

Try these Industrial Shears – Click Here

You will be cutting all day if you attempt to use regular scissors to cut the Ultra Touch, so I would suggest getting some industrial shears to make the process much faster and easier on your hands. 🙂 Here is an example of shears to use:

celling and wall insulation cutting

Me cutting the Ultra Touch

After cutting out our first two pieces and doing a little trimming to make sure they fit well, we applied the Roberts tape to the wall and stuck the insulation in the fitted spaces. Believe me, that stuff is going nowhere. The tape works great. Take a look at our first two attempts below:

ultra touch wall insulation

The insulation fit nicely in these first two spots

Once we got the hang of it, we were cranking out brown paper templates and filling the whole drivers side wall with the radiant barrier. Insulation can be a tedious process, but it’s well worth it in the end, so stay strong and get it done.

brown paper for ceiling and wall insulation

Continuing the tedious job of insulating the walls

With the radiant barrier complete, we moved on to adding a 1/2 inch layer of RMax Foam Insulation Board. Once again, we were back at it with our brown paper templates. It can be tedious, like I said before, but I believe you’ll be extremely happy you went through the trouble when you overnight somewhere in the cold weather. For now, currently July, it makes the van like an oven. Ha!! If I were to install an A/C unit, I bet it would hold the cool air in well. Maybe, next year. 😉

Ok, back to the RMax. You can find RMax at Home Depot like the Ultra Touch. RMax comes in large 8 foot sheets and isn’t very forgiving when working with it. We used our utility knife to cut large pieces to fill the larger even areas, then we went back and filled in all the gaps with smaller pieces. Did I mention insulation can be tedious. Ugh!!

Here’s a look at out first application of the RMax insulation. We used Flex Fix Aluminum Tape to attach the foam board to the van ribs and seal the gaps.

RMax foam board insulation

RMax foam board insulation secured with Flex Fix Aluminum Tape

The tricky thing about installing insulation, and I wouldn’t’ have known this without my Dad telling me, is that you need to build your insulation up to the same level as your support ribs/beams. This way, when you install your finished wall, you’ll have a flat surface to work with and no gaps. Check the picture below: we have the ultra touch and foam board built up to the van’s center support beam on the right, but notice we had to build up the left side with a custom board to make the transition straight.

insulation built up to support

Build your insulation up to your supports

Ceiling Insulation – Radiant Barrier and Foam Board

For the ceiling, we did just like the walls, but the ceiling was made of nice rectangular runs in between the roof ribs which made making templates and installing the insulation much easier. Once again, our goal for the ceiling was to block the sun’s heat, so we placed the Ultra Touch Radiant barrier with the foil side against the metal ceiling. We also used the Roberts Carpet Tape to secure the Ultra Touch to the ceiling which worked GREAT.

ceiling ultra touch insulation

Ultra Touch attached to ceiling with Roberts Tape

Notice the wiring. It’s a good idea to get your wires run in the ceiling while you have a chance. I’ll be touching on this more in my Build 6 post. Next up, we used our same templates and cut the foam board. We had to install the foam in two pieces along the ceiling because it’s not very flexible. We used our trusty utility knife to cut the foam board.

We fit the RMax foam board just inside the beams and used the Flex Fix Aluminum Tape to secure the foam to the ceiling. Like the Roberts Carpet tape, I can strongly recommend getting the Flex Fix tape. The tape sticks REALLY well to metal, but not so sticky that it’s hard to work with. Below is a look at the partially completed ceiling:

RMax foam board insulation

RMax Foam Board Ceiling Insulation

Here is a look at the whole ceiling completely lined with Ultra Touch and RMax insulation. The excess tape area is where we have wire runs:

complete RMax ceiling insulationcomplete RMax ceiling insulation

Completed RMax ceiling insulation with Flex Fix Tape

In conclusion, you can do a van build without insulation and save yourself a lot of work but the work could be well worth it in the long run. Imagine enjoying the beauty of Yellowstone during the day, but later realizing it gets freaking cold at night. The insulation sure would have come in handy. 🙂

Up Next: Ceiling and Wall Paneling

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13 Responses to Ceiling and Wall Insulation – Camper Van Build 3

  1. Liz July 27, 2015 at 6:45 AM #

    I get the feeling this wasn’t your favorite part of the build? You mention it being tedious a couple times. To me, it looks like you were having fun. Keep it up, Troy. Loving the posts.

    • Troy Wiedeman July 27, 2015 at 5:40 PM #

      Thanks Liz. I try to work with a smile on my face. 🙂 Insulation install is time consuming, if you do it right. I was happy to get it done, although I do still have one wall left in the van to insulate. Looking forward to that day. 😛

  2. Kent July 28, 2015 at 7:39 AM #

    Troy, I have used that roberts carpet tape before. It is very sticky! Guess what I used it for? To lay carpet. I did a self carpet install in a utility room and the stuff worked great for that. I never thought of using it to hang something from the wall, but I see you added foam and tape afterwards. Good job.

    • Troy Wiedeman July 28, 2015 at 1:48 PM #

      You are correct, Kent! That tape works great and so does the Flex Fix tape. As soon as I applied it to the first wall and place Ultra Touch over it, I realized this tape was awesome. Of course, I have no idea how it is performing now since it’s packed in behind foam and tape, but it worked well helping up us get things started.

      Thanks again Kent for following along on the blog. I appreciate you commenting.

  3. Alex August 7, 2015 at 7:48 AM #

    How did you insulate the spaces in the wall above the wheel well and in the doors? Did you leave them empty? I am in the middle of a van build myself and am in the insulation phase, and plan to put fiber glass in those spaces. Less open air space. Great stuff foam for the hard to reach places as well. Was wondering if that was part of your thought process or if it poses an issue that I’m not aware of. Thanks! Keep it up! Your posts are super helpful – Alex

    • Troy Wiedeman August 7, 2015 at 1:48 PM #

      Hi Alex! Good to hear from another van builder. We haven’t insulated the doors yet, but we do plan to do that. We will probably take off the door covers and use the Ultra touch and foam board inside the doors. I suppose we will take care of the doors after we build the passenger side storage and the galley in the back.

      For the spaces inside the walls, we used the great stuff foam and filled them as best we could without overflowing too much. 😉

      Glad you’re checking out the posts and videos.

  4. David Roderick April 25, 2016 at 11:35 AM #

    I see that you used the Flex Fix foil tape to secure the polyiso foam boards onto the wall and ceiling panels. Many others use Great Stuff to secure the foam. So…are you having any squeak problems with the foam as you travel down the road, or does the Flex Fit secure it well enough? Thanks for your reply. Love your build and your blog and videos. Outstanding work!!! I am in the middle of a van build now with insulation and your work has been soooooo helpful!

    • Troy Wiedeman April 25, 2016 at 1:35 PM #

      Hi David. Thanks for the question and I’m happy to see the blog and videos are helpful. 🙂 The Flex Fix tape worked really well for us. It’s aluminum based so imagine wrapping something in aluminum foil, only this has a sticky side. We packed the insulation in very tightly and then used a generous amount of tape to hold things in place. Afterwards, we put the pine paneling up and secured them with screws, so there isn’t much room for movement for the insulation to squeak.

      On the other hand, this is an 18 year old van with plenty of squeaks and noises, so maybe I just don’t hear the insulation over the other noises. 🙂 Hope this helps. LOL! Good luck with your build.

  5. Jameson October 6, 2016 at 10:15 AM #

    How has this insulation done overtime anymore moisture issues? Debating what I am going to use on my van.

    • Troy Wiedeman October 7, 2016 at 8:23 AM #

      Hey Jameson. So far the insulation has held up very well, but I have been in Texas for this whole time and haven’t had to deal with extreme cold and moisture. It has done a great job blocking out the heat, and with my ventilation methods I have been able to keep the van cool.

      In Houston, the area I mostly live around, we have flooding problems often, so this has been my main concern. Since I have insulation below the flooring and a power center set up at floor level, I try my best to stay away from high water situations.

      Thanks for checking out the blog. Which van are you doing a building from?

  6. Jonathan Miller April 4, 2017 at 11:16 AM #

    Hey troy.my name is jonathan, I live in the Houston area also. I’ve been living on a sailboat the last few years in Galveston, but I find living on the water has it’s limitations. I have an Astro van that I am about to set up for camping. My van has windows, so I it will be a source for heat to enter the van. I really like the way the foil backed insulation looks. Do you think it could be used for window covers? can you roll the stuff up? I was thinking about using something I could just roll out of the way when I want to let some light in. I’ve also been looking at a product called aerogel.

    • Troy Wiedeman April 13, 2017 at 7:12 AM #

      Hi Jonathan. Yes, the Ultra Touch insulation I use in my van can be used as window covers as well. I actually do this with my van setup. I made a video about that here:

      With two pieces of the insulation taped together, it can be a bit firm, so it will roll up but will need to be secured to keep it rolled up.

  7. Justin December 17, 2017 at 7:25 PM #

    Hi Troy. Greetings from Washington state! I have a been planning an Astro cargo van conversion for a while and have been doing lots of research in regards to how I plan to accomplish certain tasks in regards to it. Insulation has been my number one concern, as the interior carpentry and wiring/electronics will be much simpler. I had been debating spray-in insulation, both DIY and professional, but found that it has many down falls including possible panel warping, cost, and the fact that it has to be applied at a certain temperature range. Being as we’re going into winter, that is a major downfall. I’m glad I found your site as it’s solves my issue for finding an alternative. Kudos to your dad and you! Curios how much of the Ultratouch you used? I’m not sure if I should get a 24ft. or 75ft. roll. As I will have to special order it, I don’t want to run short and be stuck waiting for more to arrive. Curious to see how your galley turns out as well. Happy travels!

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