Insulation Questions


I have already decided to go with Sheep’s wool for insulation, however I want to make the insulation/sound dampening (aka housing) of my van to be very good. Not necessarily the part of the build to skimp on.

So, I am going to apply some thin noise dampeners to the metal framing first.
I also was thinking of adding another very thin layer of thinsulate or pad to the frame before adding the wool into all the nooks and crannys and the main bulk of the space.

Basically: cheap noise dampeners + small bit [not a lot] of thinsulate/similar less bulky layer especially for the end doors/cab doors + sheeps wool for everything else.

----> Has anybody else done something similar or seen someone do this? Is it too overkill? I figure if it’s very well insulated, that will make it a breeze to keep the living area a comfortable level.

Thanks in advance!

Greetings & Welcome!

Active ventilation is required almost 24/7, and pretty much defeats any thermal properties of insulation. Only active heating & cooling, powerful enough to overcome the necessary ventilation will actually keep you comfortable, insulation alone won’t do it.


"Beat Murphy's Law with a KISS! (Keep It Stupidly Simple)" ~ Van_Dweller

I used noise dampening material on the metal wheel wells to reduce the sound of rocks. Other than that I used thick carpet pad that has moisture barrier on the outside. Also packed insulation into the doors behind the plastic inside panels. (Chevy express van)

My observations:

  • the sound dampening stuff helped but not nearly as much as when I boxed in the wheel wells and insulated that box.
  • before the insulation I had bare metal walls and you could feel the heat coming through. After, the plywood is cool to the touch so the insulation really helped. I think the insulation alone was enough.

Personally, given the cost of sound dampening material and Thinsulate I would just stick with the wool.

We only used the wool. I never understood using the sound dampening stuff when wool is sound dampening itself. You have windows so you can only do so much anyway.

Insulation definitely helps but you need something else to supplement it. Focus on covering every piece of metal you see. The less exposed, the better.

If you are going to wrap anything with padding and then fabric do that before anything else such as walls and roofs. I wish we would have. It will turn out nicer.

Wool doesn’t take the energy vibrations off the walls. It will stop or muffle high pitch sounds well though.

Wool works if the sound from tires is high pitched whining. On the other hand, a decent mechanic would also be a good idea at that point :slight_smile:

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Honestly, when driving anymore I feel most sound that is annoying is from the cabinets and everything else we’ve built inside that van. Wood rubbing, hardware, etc, etc. Spice jars clambering around on the rack.

The outside at this point is not much of a concern and never really was bad. Even when we just had a metal shell and a mattress on the floor.

Likely you’ll pack so much stuff in there when driving that you’ll wonder what the hell is rattling on the inside and not the outside.

Might be best not to over engineer or over think it.

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I’ve seen many people box in their wheel wells. It there any real benefit to this?

Pretty hard to stack something on top of it if it’s not flat. I have my electric system above mine.


Good point, I just didn’t want to take away extra space where I could stuff smaller gear.


Re: Inside noise…

Really? Mine’s as quiet as can be going down the road, and I really didn’t even do anything special to accomplish it.

I think I would be very leery of noises like that…


"Beat Murphy's Law with a KISS! (Keep It Stupidly Simple)" ~ Van_Dweller


I think insulating them for soundproofing purposes is a good idea, but boxing them in seems like a waste of usable space to me.


"Beat Murphy's Law with a KISS! (Keep It Stupidly Simple)" ~ Van_Dweller

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@Van_Dweller - no it’s super solid. It’s just things we really have t finished yet. For instance our top cabinet doors just use gravity to seat shut so bump can make the jump out a bit. Same with a large section of butcher block that hangs on to large hinges. We need to put in some magnets or something of the sort.

My point was when you put stuff in your van especially when you have lots of food, bottles, etc, etc. and you drive down a bumpy road something is going to make noise by bouncing together. We’re all good on the highways, but we rarely find ourselves on them. Once you hit a dirt road that has washboarded things are going to make noise. It seems like every dirt road has a washboard going on these days.

Depends on the size of the box. I’ve seen people use the soundproofed box as additional storage. Basically soundproof wheel well and inside of the box both, use rest of the space well.

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I used armaflex, which you stick on in sheets so it takes the curves and shapes easily. It’s pretty much adhesive black rubber covered witrh an aluminum sheet, I saw alot of people use it in build pictures and videos. I did the entire inside metal surface of the van. every inch. Then mineral wool in the hollow spaces in the doors and between the ribs on the sides. Pretty quiet inside, also bad cellphone signal as a result! never saw thath coming, kinda sucks when you wanna watch netflix or you tube, I have to put the phone on the dashboard and make a hotpost for my laptop.

I’ve heard sheep wool is the best material to use and most eco friendly though, would have used it but I had to compromise with mineral wool to budget some other stuff.

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Many people use an exterior mounted antenna to solve their connectivity problems…


"Always avoid complicated solutions to solve simple problems." ~ OffGrid


So, I am using Siless 80mil Noise dampener (Made in Ukraine) throughout the van on a lot of the larger metal areas.
I think I will then use US Energy Products: “Reflective Insulation Shield, Heat Shield, Thermal Insulation Shield Vapor Barrier”. for a few windows I am sealing up and for a few of the larger sections in the back/door. R-8 for 1/4" and is waterproof.
Then wool (New Zealand) for every nook and cranny and to fill the bulk of space between the US Energy Product and the walls I will install.

I will keep you all updated! Thanks for weighing in. :slight_smile:

Hi Samsterx777

You could always go with some Thinsulate. Works great for what you need. I used one that is manufactured by 3M but I picked it up off of vanlifeoutfitters .com since its pretty hard to get. The Thinsulate is the best material you can use IMHO. Hope your build comes out nice…travel on!

I used a layer of Soundskins Pro audio stuff which not only dampens but also deadens the sound… many people confuse the terms… (sound dampening and sound deadening) one cuts the decibels and the other cuts certain sound waves altogether. Wool only does part. and you also run into the moisture issues with wool (its starts smelling like a sheep’s pen) eliminating some of the moister with a barrier adds both less sound and less smell. My van on the inside is like a luxury vehicle (even putting on the AC annoys me now as it feels so loud) BTW I have 3.5 EB Ford Transit. I can’t even hear my turbos spin up nor my exhaust anymore. I used 1 layer or SoundSkins with a 1 - 2 inch layers of havelock wool… covered by 1/4 inch wood panels (the floor has 1 inch Rmax R-Matte Plus board on top of that layer of soundskins… then laminate floors) … (I also meticulously have everything bolted and tied down… I race cars and you never have objects that can become projectiles in a vehicle (bottles on racks is a no no, or anything that is not secure to stay put in a crash)

my 2 cents