Camper Van Conversion
Hello everyone and welcome to the next part in our camper van conversion series! Last time we discussed how to give your van a nice deep clean, this time we will be taking that shiny van and making it look more like a camper van. In this post we will cover:
- How to install the insulation
- Fitting the vapour barrier material
- Cutting and attaching plywood
There are many types of insulation out there. It is definitely worth doing some research before you commit to one type in particular. Depending on where you will be taking the van and the type of environment that it will be in, will dictate which type of insulation will suit your needs. As we were predominately going to be driving around Europe, we decided upon the soft, fluffy loft type of insulation. This type will keep us warm in the winter but also absorb some of the heat and smells from cooking etc.
There are a few advantages with this type of insulation including:
- Its flexibility and softness ensure that it can fit into the small spaces in between bulkheads
- Compared to other types available it does not contain fibreglass
- When comparing to a rigid type of insulation, it is much more manageable and cheaper
To fit this type of insulation you will need to cut it to the required size. We then used a spray adhesive to stick it onto the van surface. It is important that you do not skip the cleaning stage from the previous post. This is where rogue dirt and oil could hinder the bond between the insulation and the van surface. Once you have this is done and pushed as much as possible into all the gaps and holes, it is time to move onto applying the vapour barrier material.
Note: The neater you make the insulation fit, the easier it is to attach the vapour barrier and the carpet later.
To prevent the insulation from getting all damp and smelly, the next stage in your camper van conversion is to fit the vapour barrier over the top of it. Again, there are many different types of vapour barrier out there. We decided to use a foil based one, it is very flexible, easy to stick and cut and is thin enough that it is unnoticeable once you place the carpet over the top later. This stage requires a bit more patience and precision. It also needs some decent cutting skills so make sure you have a new blade on your Stanley knife. Use the same spray adhesive to attach the material onto the van walls etc.
Sometimes the foil roll will not cover the area you need. You can overlap two pieces of the material slightly and then use metal tape to stick them together. Try not to stick the edges of the foil to the insulation. The material should be attached to a metal surface to make sure that no moisture can get in. As a precaution, we used the foil tape to seal all the edges, which, in turn, made the job look a lot neater overall too!
The spray adhesive can become quite overwhelming. Make sure you have the correct respiratory masks and ventilate the van well by opening all the windows and doors. The next stage is ply-lining the inside of the van.
Fitting plywood onto the walls of the camper van covers the big gaps and gives you a better surface to attach furniture too. Some vans come with plastic panels that protect the walls, which you could use as a stencil. On our van we used 9mm ply and had to trim ours back a bit so that it sat snugly against the walls. Having a good jigsaw and power tool ninja is really helpful during this stage.
Take off the edges slowly and keep measuring it up against the van until it fits nicely. Self-tapping screws are a good way to attach the wood to the van walls. Ensure that any electrical cable is easy to access before screwing the wood in place. Ply-wood is quite flexible, which is handy if you need to bend it a little to fit. In this example we carpeted the wheel housing before screwing the wood on.
You are now well on your way to finishing the first part of your van! Join us next time for how to cut the windows, fit the electrics for the lights and stick on the carpet.
Are you doing your own camper van conversion? Was this post helpful? Please leave us a comment below!