Campervan insulation is a major part of your DIY campervan conversion! But how to properly insulate your campervan? If you’re considering buying an empty van and making it into a comfortable home, be sure to keep reading 🙂
What's coming up
- 1 The next step in my campervan conversion
- 2 Why Insulation for your van is important
- 3 What type of insulation to pick for your van
- 4 Xtrem 10mm Self-Adhesive Insulation Material
- 5 The process of insulating the van with X-trem
- 6 The result of my DIY Campervan Insulation with X-trem
- 7 Insulating your windows
- 8 Using Xtrem to insulate your van – Video
The next step in my campervan conversion
After we had completely stripped the van and cleaned it (see below picture), it was time to put the insulation in!
In this detailed blog I will explain why you need insulation in your van, what types are out there, why I chose to insulate my van with self-adhesive X-trem and the process I followed to all the insulation in. To conclude, I will tell you how it’s going with the temperature on my trip 😉
Why Insulation for your van is important
Together with ventilation in your campervan, campervan insulation can be your best friend in keeping your van in a good state!
Water is your worst enemy in small space like a campervan. If your van gets moist and the water cannot go anywhere, it can start to create rust or mold. You will see your van getting moist especially when you’re cooking inside, or when waking up after a night with high temperature differences between inside and outside.
If you look at it plainly, an empty van is just a metal box. When sun hits metal, it gets very hot. So will your van ;-). If it gets cold outside and your van is poorly isolated, the temperature won’t be much different from outside!
During the build I had it rain upon the van a couple of times when the insulation was not in there yet. It was SO noisy!! Also the driving makes quite a lot of noise that you will want to mute.
What type of insulation to pick for your van
This is a difficult question and the internet is full of articles on it. Make it depend on where you live (I’m in the Netherlands with SO MUCH rain! If you live in the desert you probably worry less about moist 🙂
I considered four types of insulation, but I’m sure there are many more out there! It’s not easy to pick as you hear a lot of different stories. So instead of giving you a highly technical overview, I will outline which options I considered and why I ended up picking X-trem to insulate my van with.
1. Insulation panels
There are many insulation panels on the market. They are usually very thick and rigid (hard to put in corners and non-straight areas) but insulate well. Some are better than others if it comes to how they handle moist. One thing that I find is that they are (or look to me 😉 ) very chemical.
2. Spray Foam
One other approach I came across was people spraying all the walls with green-white-ish spray-foam. Talking about chemical 🙂 And it looked like you need quite a lot of equipment
I also considered sheepwool because it’s an ecological and natural product. The insulating characteristics of this material are good, but I understand that sheepwhool does not handle moist very well. Because it’s not airtight, condensation between the metal of the car and the insulation has a chance, with all consequences.
4. Self-Adhesive Xtrem/Armaflex
I found the option of self-adhesive closed-cell insulation. This seemed like the easiest option for a non-experienced campervan builder like myself. In 2018, Armaflex was not widely available yet, so in the end, I went with Xtrem. This turned out to be an affordable, lightweight, easy to attach insulation material that is completely waterproof.
Xtrem 10mm Self-Adhesive Insulation Material
The Xtrem material is known for its noise-cancelling and temperature regulating qualities and is especially suitable for liveable spaces. In addition, it’s water resistant – it can actually float on water. This is in contrast with many other insulation materials that absorb water like sponges.
I picked the Self-Adhesive version to save myself the head-ache of a lot of issues with glue. One of the camper builders I had talked to always used the regular Xtrem material. They would cut all the pieces in advance, then spray glue across the whole van and paste it. This seemed like a difficult process, so I went with Xtrem self-adhesive version.
I picked the 10mm version because it seemed easy to cut and very flexible to put in the curves of the van. In hindsight, I probably could have taken the 20mm for the floor, but that would have left a lot material from the whole role. So I’m happy with the 10mm as it was extremely easy to work with.
I ordered it online, paid €27,90 per 100x200cm and I needed 4 roles. I had many small pieces left that I used to cover the tyres and doors.
The process of insulating the van with X-trem
You may expect a long difficult process with a long instruction video here. Nope 😉 A 1,5 minute video and just a couple of short alineas of explanation.
We cleaned the floor and glued wooden sticks on it, to attach the floor to later. We unpacked the first role and did some small tests with cutting and sticking the material.
Measuring the straight parts is quite easy. Where it gets a bit more difficult are the curvy parts. A flexible measurer helps a lot and you can also just place the material against the wall make a small incision on where it should be cut.
Luckily the material is very easy to cut with a sharp utility knife (stanley knife). I always used a plank or steel part to cut straight. I also mades sure to cut 1-2 cm too much in case my measuring was off, so I could simply cut off the remainders. This was a pretty easy and fun process!
Easy – taking of the sticky layer and put it on the wall 🙂 It’s easiest done with two people because you can make sure each side goes equal, but it can definitely be done with only one person. I usually started off at the top, leaving some of the paper on and stripping it going down.
That’s it 😉
The result of my DIY Campervan Insulation with X-trem
Insulating my van only took about one day. Then some extra time to use up the small left-over parts and after we put in the ventilator, we isolated that part of the ceiling too.
After we put in the the insulation on the ceiling, it rained again (obviously, as I was in the Netherlands), but now the sounds was much less! Mission accomplished 🙂
I have been on the road for 2 years and I’m quite happy with the campervan insulation method used. Of course, when it’s 38 degrees outside or it freezes -5, it’s uncomfortable in the van. But when the temperatures are moderate, the temperature in the van stays very nice. Also at night when it gets colder, it’s still snug and cozy in the van 🙂
To be honest, the main problem in my van are the windows.
Insulating your windows
Even though your walls may be superbly isolated, you still have your windows that will cause a lot of heat loss (or increase with the sun on them).
The most simple and also relatively affordable solution are window insulation sets that are usually available for any type of van. I have bought them for the front of the van, but will soon also make them myself for the side windows and the back windows to survive in winter 🙂
Using Xtrem to insulate your van – Video
Here a quick video showing how the easy it is to use the Xtrem material.
Here are some more interesting articles about campervan insulation:
I am looking at using the X-trem insulation – How effective have you found it as insulation?
Hi Tom! I find that it definitely does the trick, although my main problem are the windows. So even though I use Xtrem it still gets very hot or cold in the van, because I don’t have great window insulation 🙂 . I would definitely use Xtrem again due to its easy of use!
Thanks for your great blog.
Does Xtrem also works for noise?
Do you hear a lot from people outside?
Hi Yoshi! Thanks for your message. In general I would say it works for noise too, but keep in mind living in a van is like living in a tin can 🙂 No matter the insulation you will always hear things from the outside like in any campervan, but I find the Xtrem to take away the rough edges. Good luck with your conversion!
Hi Sabrina, awesome site and info. See you replaced the seat and bench. Where did you find the two separate seats? Thanks!
Hi Michel! I got them from Marktplaats (Dutch e-Bay) from a car spare parts dealer 🙂 There were including the swiveling parts which are quite expensive seperately
Dou you have any rubber smells inside van when it gets hot outside? I am about to put selfadhedive Armaflex 19mm. I allready bought it but now I read some comments that it release some smells or oddours inside vans when its hot outside and metal chasis gets hot too? Thank you!
Hi there, I never had smells like these!
I’m wanting to use x-trem on my van conversion but can’t seem to find the self-adhesive option on a roll – where did you source yours? Thanks
I got it here from a Dutch company 🙂 https://www.jasicamp.nl/isolatie-materialen/warmte-isolatie-x-trem-voor-bestelbussen-en-camper/c433
Hey, ik heb zelf een renault trafic, de lage versie. Moet je bij het isoleren niet ieder metaal stukje bedekken? Dus ook de metalen balken die jij niet gedaan hebt of zit ik verkeerd? En heb jij ook al gehoord van schapenwol? Ik ben nog niet zeker welk van de twee ik ga kiezen en of allebei!
Hi Tessa, hoe meer hoe beter maar je hoeft zeker niet elke cm te bedekken 😉 Schapenwol wordt door iedere professionele camper bouwer afgeraden, omdat het juist vocht vasthoudt. En dat wil je zeker niet in een kleine bus. Alle camperbouwers gebruiken Xtrem, dus daar heb ik ook voor gekozen. Je zou er nog houtwol oid bij kunnen doen, maar in een Renault Trafic met ramen ga je de winst niet maken op de wand isolatie (ramen komen veel kou doorheen)
Ik zie hier in de comments 2x staan dat je schaapswol isolatie afraad omdat die vocht opneemt.
Heb je daar toevallig meer informatie over want hier had ik nog niet van gehoord? Is dit reeds bewezen?
Mooie blog en veel succes met je reizen!
Hi Freek, excuus voor de onwijs late reactie. Ik denk dat je hier even in het engels naar moet zoeken! Het is voor mij alweer meer dan 2 jaar geledne dus het zou kunnen dat ondertussen dingen veranderd zijn
Have you had any condensation issues on the struts of the ceiling where they have been left uninsulated? I’m thinking of Armaflexing over the struts too but thought I’d ask if you’d had any issues first.
I’m not sure how you would be able to look there, after finishing the van 🙂 So not sure if there has been any condensation!