Once you’ve invested in your van and cleaned the empty shell, the aim for you now is to turn it into a liveable space.
You may be asking yourself... What elements do I need to consider to make a campervan habitable? Well...we do live in Britain after all, and the sun isn’t always shining. You’ll also need to prepare for the cold and wet weather, so making sure your campervan conversion is well insulated from the outset is important to keep you nice and warm during the colder months.
If you’re a campervan converter ‘beginner’, then it might help if we explain why it is advisable to insulate your van...the simple answer is that you can make it a livable space and enjoy spending time in your van whatever the weather.
You will find that a well-insulated van is easier to heat and cool. It will stay warmer in the Winter, and won’t heat up as quickly in the Summer. Your windows are going to be the biggest source of heat coming in your van in the form of radiant heat from the sun. Campervan curtains will help keep some heat out of our van on a hot day so keep them closed. Or, if you’re camping in the extreme cold or hot weather, it is well worth considering thermal cab screens. Thermal silver screens are designed to be fixed to the inside or outside of your campervan windows to help retain heat in cold weather or reflect sunlight away from your van in hot weather...clever hey!?
So, if you’re planning on converting a campervan and dream of spending lots of time in your van or perhaps even living in your camper, then a 4 Step Insulation System really is the bees knees. It’s an attractive solution because it combines decent insulation properties with sound deadening, moisture control and an attractive, aesthetic finish.
This stuff genuinely makes a difference to the rattling in your campervan by reducing road noise and vibration of large, flat metal van panels (generally not the floor because of its ridged design). It will really help to eliminate the ‘tinny’ road noise in the back of your van.
Step 2 - Thermal Insulation Foam
One of the easiest, most satisfying methods of insulating a campervan and is just the job to use on your van roof, side walls and floor. To give you an idea, typically a VW T5 short wheel base campervan needs about 10 metres for the roof, walls and floor and it can be used in multiple layers where space allows but you’ll need extra for this. Because the foam is a closed cell, it won’t absorb any moisture from condensation and the foil backing really benefits your van insulation because it helps to reflect heat back into the van.
Step 3 - Dacron Polyester Insulation Wadding
Think of this as the 'puffa jacket' layer. It's extremely versatile, lightweight, easy and clean to work with, and does a fantastic job of trapping air and ultimately producing a high level of insulation so will keep your van nice and toasty when you need it the most.
Simply press it into the smaller vehicle frame cavities to eliminate any thermal cold spots and hold it in place with a high temperature adhesive spray. It works best if you don’t pack it in too tightly, so keep it nice and fluffy in order to get the best result. A 15m roll is plenty to fill the voids in a campervan.
Step 4 - Stretch Lining Carpet
Finally, it goes without saying that a carpet lining is used for comfort and aesthetics, however, a good quality carpet will also contribute to a quieter and warmer environment.
A pliable, stretch carpet is highly recommended because it allows you to mould it around all the trickier areas like the wheel arches and campervan windows. It’s much easier to work with and a very popular lining carpet format.
For a VW T5/T6 short wheel base campervan you’ll need approximately 10 metres of stretch carpet, or 15 metres for a long wheel base. These quantities also include the headliner so there’s enough to go around your living space. You will also need some high temperature adhesive to stick it and we’ve found that you’ll use approximately 1 x 500ml can of adhesive per metre length of carpet.
So there you have it! Clearly, some insulation is better than none, but it’s up to you to decide what you really need, and this will be very dependent on how you plan to use your van.
Ultimately, the 4 Stage Campervan Insulation System will create a well insulated, comfortable, living space that you can enjoy all year round.
Check out our series of Kiravans ‘How to’ installation videos that will take you step by step through the process of insulating and carpet lining your campervan.