Flooring Insulation – Camper Van Build 2

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In my previous post, Fantastic Fan Installation, I showed how we cut a hole in the roof and installed the first piece to this van build puzzle. All went well with that, but we have A LOT more to do with this build. Today, I want to show you how we did the van flooring insulation. Don’t worry, this isn’t too difficult. 🙂

Tools and Supplies Needed

  1. Flathead Screwdriver (for demo work)
  2. Phillips Screwdriver (for demo work)
  3. Pencil
  4. Marker
  5. Scissors
  6. Sheet Metal Screws
  7. Brown Builder’s Paper
  8. Cardboard
  9. Utility Knife
  10. Industrial Shears
  11. Ultra Touch Radiant Barrier
  12. Flex Fix Tape
  13. Pressure Treated Plywood
  14. Socket Set
  15. Power Drill

Astro Camper Van Flooring Insulation

The first thing we needed to decide was whether we were just planning to focus on the cargo area or did we want to insulate the cab area as well. In the interest of doing it right the first time, we chose to remove the seats and the mat in the cab area to check for rust. Good news, it didn’t look bad at all under the seats. We just did a little scrubbing to clean it up a bit.

seat removal - flooring insulation

Removed seats to check under mat

Demo - pre-flooring insulation

Removed the mat and cleaned underneath

The vans floor will mainly pose two problems for us. Noise and engine heat. We decided the engine’s heat will be nothing like the sun’s heat on the other exposed parts of the van, so we chose to focus on noise reduction. The plan was to lay a run of Ultra Touch Radiant Sound Barrier from the back of the van all the way up to the firewall of the engine. Then, we will replace the floor mat and seats up front and cut a fitted piece of treated plywood for the back living area.

Watch the Build 2 video – Floor Insulation & Sound Barrier

Use Brown Paper and Cardboard as Templates

To get the flooring pieces measured properly, we used brown builder’s paper. Sure, you could just lay down the insulation and start cutting it or “wing it” but to get some precise measurements we used the builder’s paper. First, you cut a manageable piece of the paper from the roll to get started. Lay the piece on the floor and trace the floor. We ended up splitting the van in two sides since the paper wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole width of the van. After doing the tracing, pull out your scissors and start cutting away. It will take some trimming to get the paper to fit tightly.

floor install - brown paper

Trimming the brown paper

The paper was just the first step. We next used the paper to make cardboard cut outs. The cardboard could be skipped but believe me, it was a lifesaver doing the extra steps. Plywood is expensive, so you don’t want to ruin a sheet. The paper is a good starting point but putting the more sturdy cardboard in place gives you a more realistic idea of what the finished product will be like. Below, I am fitting and testing one side of the van’s cardboard template.

Flooring Insulation - Cardboard Template

Flooring Insulation Cardboard Template

Tracing the Insulation with Templates

Now that we had the cardboard templates, it was time to trace and cut out the insulation. It’s pretty simple at this point. Just lay your cardboard on the rolled out insulation, while trying to use the straight edges if possible, and use a marker to trace along cardboard on the silver side of the Ultra Touch Radiant Barrier. Next, it’s time to cut. We first started out using regular scissors, but soon learned that would take a year and a half so we upgraded to industrial shears and never looked back.

Cutting Ultra Touch Insulation

Cutting Ultra Touch Insulation

We cut two pieces of insulation for the floor which ran from the back doors to the front floorboard up to the firewall. Below is a look at the long run of insulation we cut:

ultra touch insulation laid out

Long run of flooring insulation

The two long pieces of insulation were laid in the van, then we secured the insulation to the van using Flex Fix Tape.

Insulation in van

Insulation placed in van

Flex Fix Tape

Using Flex Fix Tape to seal insulation

We next used our cardboard templates to cut the 8 ft sheet of Pressure Treated Plywood to fit the two sides of the van. We pre-drilled the holes through the wood and sheetmetal and then made countersink holes in the wood to allow the screws to fit flush into the wood. We didn’t want the screws to cause lumps in our future flooring.

securing plywood - flooring insulation

Securing the plywood to the sheet metal floor

Here is a look at what the floor looked like once we completed the flooring insulation and installed the base floor plywood:

plywood flooring insulation

Plywood Flooring Secured to van floor

The pictures actually show regular plywood. We came back and added treated plywood to help protect it from moisture and warping.

Next up: Ceiling and Wall Insulation.


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14 Responses to Flooring Insulation – Camper Van Build 2

  1. Tina July 20, 2015 at 9:22 PM #

    Hi Troy,

    It’s looking great! Thanks for the recap and detailed steps.

    Hope you are staying cool in Texas.

    Tina
    Northern CA

    • Troy Wiedeman July 20, 2015 at 9:48 PM #

      Hi there, Tina! Thanks for checking out the post. I figured I really needed to get over here and start updating my site more regularly, so why not change the look too while I’m at it. 🙂

      Well, I’m definitely not staying cool here in Texas, that’s for sure. Ha! Northern Cali sounds wonderful. I’ll get out of Texas one of these days. Hopefully soon.

      Troy

  2. Kent July 22, 2015 at 3:09 PM #

    Troy! Man the site is looking great. I haven’t checked up on you in a while. The van build is impressive. Keep up the good work. I like your videos page.

    • Troy Wiedeman July 22, 2015 at 4:52 PM #

      Thank you Kent. I spent a few hours a day over the past two weeks rebuilding and updating the site. Now that I have it looking better, I REALLY hope to post more often. If I can find the time. 🙂

      Glad you like the My Videos page. It took some work, but I’m stoked to have all my YouTube videos accessible from my site. I think it’s cool too!

  3. Liz July 22, 2015 at 7:39 PM #

    It looks sooooo clean with nothing in there. I hope you can keep it looking clean. We find it hard, but we have two in our van. That’s sweet of your Dad to help you with your build. Kudos, Dad!!

    • Troy Wiedeman July 23, 2015 at 9:08 PM #

      Yes indeed, Liz, my Dad is cool to help. I found out when I went to Big Bend NP in June that it is very difficult to keep the van clean. The good news is it’s a small space, so I can pretty much clean the inside of the van in 30 mins. Maybe an hour for a good deep cleaning. 😉

  4. Sean Dunlop March 15, 2016 at 11:12 PM #

    Hi Troy. I think you build is great. Looking to do something very similar. Do you happen to recall how many rolls of ultratouch you ended up using? My van is currently in another state and I’m trying to stage all my materials from afar so I cant directly confirm numbers. Thanks!

    • Troy Wiedeman March 25, 2016 at 7:34 AM #

      Hi Sean. I used the 75 ft roll which ended up being way too much for the build but we used the extras for other projects like making blackout window covering and insulating my Dad’s garage.

      Thanks for checking out the blog. 🙂

      • Tom McGaughan June 9, 2016 at 10:42 PM #

        Troy, I found the Ultra on the Home Depot website that is a 48 in. x 24 ft. Radiant Barrier roll.

        Do you think 2 rolls would be plenty to do an Astro van like yours ( I have a 2000 Cargo)

        Thanks,

        Tom

        • Troy Wiedeman June 10, 2016 at 7:20 AM #

          Hi Tom. I bought the 75 ft. roll of Ultra Touch and I still have about half left over. I used it on the floors from the back doors to the front engine firewall. I used it on the walls and ceiling, and I used it for black out window coverings. There was also some waste (goof ups) and a water leak which damaged some, so I would say that two rolls of 24 ft. each will get the job done.

          Good luck with your build. Hope to hear more about it in the future.

  5. David Roderick July 20, 2016 at 12:21 PM #

    Hi Troy…outstanding work. Many thanks.

    Two questions….1) How did you treat your plywood floor? (Sealer, polyurethane, etc).

    2) Did you treat the Pine Tongue and Groove wood? I like the natural finish but I realize that it may make it easier to keep clean with a sealer or coating? What do you think?

    • Troy Wiedeman July 20, 2016 at 12:57 PM #

      Hi David. Thanks for commenting. 1) On the first attempt with the plywood flooring, we used just standard plywood. Early in the build, we had a leak coming from the back of the van and the water ran all the way to the front of the van due to the van slanting forward. This ruined the floor insulation and warped the plywood.

      For the next go around, we used pressure-treated plywood but didn’t use a sealer or polyurethane which would actually be a good idea to use. We built up a waterproof silicon barrier in the back of the van to protect from any future water leaks.

      2) We also did not treat the tongue and groove wood. Partly because there was a long delay in finishing up the pine planks on the wall above the power center. So far, there hasn’t been an issue and I think I will keep the natural look, but some day, it may begin to show wear. I do think it would be a good idea to coat it for easier cleaning. That is a good idea.

      I have a feeling this will not be my last van build, so I will take in everything I learn from this build and apply it to the next build down the road. For now, this van may go the next 5 years. We’ll see. Thanks David!

  6. Anya May 7, 2017 at 6:57 PM #

    Did you just screw the floor plywood straight into the bottom of the van? What length of screws did you use? Did you do anything to seal the holes underneath? You think it would be a problem with water kicking up from underneath? Getting ready to start an on Express conversion myself. Thanks for blogging!

    • Troy Wiedeman May 9, 2017 at 6:35 AM #

      Hi Anya. Yes, we screwed the plywood floor to the metal van floor, with sound deadening insulation in between. First, we drilled pilot holes through the wood, insulation and metal, then we added waterproof silicone into the holes and screwed in the screws. The silicone wrapped around the screws and bleed out the bottom and dried.

      Looking under my van, I see all the silicone which should be providing good waterproof protection when driving through puddles or on rainy days. I don’t plan to drive in high water or floods because I don’t know how it would hold up in those circumstances.

      As far as the screws go, we used sheet metal screws to help penetrate the hard metal floor and the lengths varied based on thickness of metal. Be sure to check under your van for obstructions that you don’t wont to accidentally screw through like the gas tank.

      Thanks for checking out the blog.

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