Van insulation was one of the most confusing decisions we have had to make so far for our van build. There are so many options when it comes to insulation and so many factors to consider, such as toxicity, moisture management, r-value, sound proofing, etc. After researching all of our options, we ended up choosing Havelock Wool for our van build for a few key reasons:
- It’s non toxic. Since we will be living and working in the van, we wanted something that was safe to breathe 24/7.
- It’s warm. It has an r-value of 7 for the 2” batts which may not be the highest of all time, but the other benefits outweigh having the absolute highest r-value. We also will be installing a heater for any brutally cold nights.
- It’s great at moisture management. According to their website, “it will take moisture in when the ambient air exceeds 65% rh. When those levels drop below the threshold, moisture is dissolved adding to temperature control and indoor air quality.” One thing we know we will get questions on is why we don’t have a vapor barrier. According to Havelock “condensation is inevitable and entirely unavoidable. Plan for escape routes, not a feeble, misguided attempt at barriers.”
- It’s easy to install. It’s not rigid and can easily be cut or ripped apart to fit the spaces in the van. You also don’t need any protective gear to install it.
- It’s good at sound deadening. As you may notice in our vlog, we did not install rattle trap. We aren’t 100% sure if we will regret this or not, but Havelock wool has a 90 and 95 noise reduction coefficient for batts and loose fill, respectively, so we feel like it will do a pretty dang good job at noise reduction.
We initially bought 3 bags of the 2″ batts, but then decided to insulate the floor as well, so we bought a 4th bag to be safe. However, after finishing the walls and floors, we still had a tiny bit left for the doors. While it wasn’t enough, it didn’t make sense to crack open the 4th bag, so we made due with what we had and returned the 4th bag, which cost us some shipping, but we got most of our money back.
Tips for Insulation
Start with the nooks and crannies
We started by ripping up the batts into much smaller pieces and shoving it into all of the nooks and crannies. Using a pen or a screwdriver to help shove things into tight spots was very helpful! It can be a bit annoying having to shove wool into every single hole, but it’ll be worth it in the end!
After filling the nooks and crannies. then it’s time to add the batts to the larger spaces. You may need scissors to cut the batts to fit the areas, or you can rip them apart.
Use a vacuum to fill the support beams on the ceiling
We saw this trick on Benn & Lu’s YouTube channel and it was super helpful! Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it (also shown in our vlog):
- Tape up all of the holes on the support beam.
- Attach a small piece of fabric to the end of some string. Make sure the string and the fabric are light!
- Have one person put the string in the large hole at the end of the beam while the other uses a vacuum to suck the string through the beam.
- Once the string comes out the other end, hold onto it while the other person ties a strip of wool (we pre-cut these) to the end of the string.
- Remove the tape so nothing sticks or rips.
- Have one person shove the wool into the hole while the other pulls on the string at the other end to move the wool through the beam.
- And you’re done!
Use string and the crisscross method for the ceiling
We used the openings on the side of the beams (as seen in the photos below) to string the string through. We went from one side to the other to create a criss cross pattern until we had string across the whole beam. We loosened the string, added the wool, and then tightened it and tied it to the end of each beam in the thickest part so it was sturdy.
Note: the wool may not fit perfectly in the space, so you may have to double up or add extra pieces.
We still have some more insulating to do, but we feel like we have learned a lot so far and hopefully these tips help make your insulation installation easier!
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