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
- Brown Builder’s Paper
- Utility Knife
- Industrial Shears
- Ultra Touch Radiant Barrier
- RMax Foam Insulation Board
- Roberts Double-Sided Carpet Tape
- Flex Fix Tape
- 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.
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)
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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