Should I insulate the floor of my van?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Should I insulate the floor of my van? Which insulation to choose? How to insulate your van or converted van? Here are the different solutions that exist as well as the steps to help you insulate your small house on wheels.

Should I insulate the floor of my van?

Yes, you should definitely insulate the floor of your van. Insulation is one of the most important steps in the arrangement of a van. Indeed, in summer as in winter, it allows us to protect ourselves from the cold or extreme heat. 

There are different materials to insulate your van or converted van. Each material has its qualities and its flaws. Let’s see:

  • Insulation with glass wool: Glass wool is a very good thermal insulator that is inexpensive. As the panels are flexible, the glass wool fits perfectly to the walls of the van. So it’s perfect for walls and ceilings. 

On the other hand, in addition to health problems (itching, irritation, etc.), glass wool panels tend to settle down due to vibrations when driving. In addition, glass wool is very sensitive to moisture and tends to mould over time.

  • Cork insulation: Expanded cork is a good thermal and sound insulator. It can be stuck anywhere: floor, walls and roof. It is a 100% vegetable natural insulator that is not afraid of water. But the price is higher. Once the cork panels are glued, they can be completed with multi-layered insulation or sheep wool panels.
  • Insulation with extruded polystyrene:  Here again the plates are inexpensive. It is a good thermal insulator that does not require a big thickness and it is resistant to humidity. On the other hand, the panels are rigid, therefore very unsuitable for insulating the walls of a van or van, but they are suitable for insulating the ground. 

Moreover, from the petrochemical industry, extruded polystyrene is not an environmentally friendly material and it is highly flammable.

  • Thin or multilayer insulation: Thin (or multi-layered) insulation is lightweight, easy-to-install insulation that does not fear moisture. On the other hand, the price is quite high and at low thickness it is inefficient.
  • Ecological insulation: We mentioned cork a little earlier but there are other ecological insulations: hemp, sheep, wood or cellulose wadding.

The steps to insulate your house on wheels vary depending on the insulation you choose, but there are generally three possibilities:

  1. For the expanded cork sheets, you just need to glue them to the walls with neoprene glue.
  1. For glass wool, hemp or sheep wool panels, you can either cut the plates directly to the right dimensions and wedge them between the reinforcements of the van (you can tape the edges to keep them in place knowing that with the veneer the panels will not move), or install brackets to insert the plates behind, knowing that enough space must be left between the wall and the brackets so that the insulation is not compacted). 

Remember to put a vapour barrier between your insulation and the veneer to avoid moisture problems. Moisture can rust the walls of the campervan or campervan.

  1. The thin or multi-layered insulation clips directly onto cleats that are attached to the van’s uprights.
  1. To insulate the holes, you can fill them with rock wool or sheep’s wool.

Why should I insulate my van?

To understand why it is important to insulate your van, you first must know the properties of your future insulation.

  • Thermal conductivity: lambda or λ – It is the ability of a material to transmit or retain heat. Is noted λ or K or even k. Thermal conductivity is expressed in watts per kelvin meter. 
  • Thermal resistance: R – It is the ability of a material to insulate for a given thickness. The higher this value, the more insulating the wall will be. 
  • Heat capacity: S – It represents the material’s capacity to store heat (the slower the heat is transmitted, the greater the inertia). In winter, the indoor heat is higher than that outside, the insulation will retain this heat and release it later. In summer it is the other way around, the outside heat will be absorbed by the insulation and returned later in the evening when the temperature drops.
  • Moisture resistance: Sd – The very good insulators for vans are those that manage to absorb and then release moisture. In other words, the insulators that manage to regulate humidity. This will allow them to rot less, especially if there is good air transfer. The higher the Sd value, the more impermeable the material will be to the passage of water vapour. 
  • Density or density (“d” expressed in Kg / m3) – This value makes it possible to know the mass of material.  The higher this value, the more heat the material will be able to store afterwards. 

Pay attention to the total weight of your insulation. Remember to measure the area of ​​each of your walls (walls, ceiling and floor) and to order a little more than necessary in the event of a bad cut.

Other questions you may be interested in

Why are VW vans so expensive?

What is the difference between a campervan and a caravan?

What is the best minivan for camping?

Installing the insulation in your van

Before installing the insulation in your van, you must install the wooden structure that will allow you to fix your plywood sheets or your panelling. For this, you will need cleats of different lengths and widths.

Pay attention to the free space between the wall and the thickness of the batten. You must have enough room to lay your insulation without compressing it in its thickness. 

Start with the ground by fixing large wooden cleats in the metal plank using self-drilling stainless steel screws. Be careful to optimize the free space between the cleats to install the maximum number of insulating plates without having to make any cuts. You will gain insulation performance.

Tip: Drill your cleats and your metal wall to the lower diameter before putting your self-tapping screws.

  1. Cut out your van insulation – Cut the insulation panels by adding 2 cm in order to lay them with a slight compression, which will be better to avoid thermal bridges. Be careful, a badly laid material can lose 80% of its capacities. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.
  1. As the surfaces are not always flat, you may be forced to compress certain parts of your insulation (at the level of certain reinforcements). You will lose performance slightly, but it’s always better than not putting anything on.
  1. Biofib Trio panels are cut with an insulating knife for 45, 60 and 80 mm. Use a manual or electric insulator saw for thicknesses from 100 mm.

Note: It is normally recommended to install a vapour barrier to prevent moisture from seeping into your woodwork.

The bottom line

We hope this article helped you understand the importance of insulation in a van.  Should you have any questions, comments or tips on #vanlife, please let us know!

FAQ on Should I insulate the floor of my van?

How to thermally insulate a vehicle?

To thermally insulate a vehicle you can use an asphalt blanket, aluminium adhesive felt, EVA thermal insulation or aluminized etalon. Coating the interior of the vehicle with these characteristics is what creates the insulating layer, helping to prevent heat from the exterior from reaching the interior of the vehicle.

How is the insulating membrane placed?

The role of insulation should be extended towards the highest part of the ceiling. Once the roll reaches the highest level of the ceiling, it must be attached to the structure. Once the insulation is fixed on the top of the roof, it should be aligned until it is parallel with the braces. 

How can I insulate a van?

The best option to insulate the van: Kaiflex or Armaflex type synthetic rubber elastomeric foam. The best insulating material is elastomeric foam based on synthetic rubber with a closed-cell structure. The best-known brands are Kaiflex or Armaflex.


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