Van Build: Using Recycled Insulation in our Campervan

It's time to insulate our campervan!

Written By Freedom Strider

On July 15, 2020

We decided to go for recycled plastic loft insulation, as it was a non-irritant and easy (ish) to work with. Filling the rectangular gaps in the majority of the van - easy peasy. Filling the hidden cavities and columns? - Not so easy... For the giant window and back door cavities we will be using PIR board, but we'll save that for next time.

1

Cut the fluff

We used recycled plastic insulation rolls for our insulation. These are a non irritant (so you can touch it without scratching your skin off) and is easy to work with. We measured all the smaller cavities in our van, went inside and got measuring.

Although it seems easy to cut through, it wasn’t that easy. Hair cutting scissors did the best job ✂️ but it still took a few blisters and many hours to slice it all up. 

2

Put in the easy rectangles

With all the simple rectangles, it was as easy as matching the size to its location in the van. Some took a bit of stuffing, and some needed to be split in half, but overall, relatively easy job.

We didn’t stick them in with glue in case we needed to remove them in the future.

recycled plastic insulation - insulation - van conversion

3

Getting all those hard to reach places

As for all the columns and air holes in the rest of the van, it took a bit more figuring out. For the columns, we tore long strips and used a bamboo rod to stuff it up the columns, which sort of worked, although who knows how far it actually went up. 🤷

As for other areas, some required odd shapes to be cut and pushed into place, others required us to break apart the insulation into clumps and poke it in through tiny holes with bendable metal rods or fingers.

Breaking it into clumps actually proved very effective for all of the hard to reach places. Next time we wouldn’t even bother going for long tails and just stuff clumps up there instead.

We knew we would never be able to fill every single airhole, but it’s best to try and do as much as possible.

recycled plastic insulation - insulation - van conversion
recycled plastic insulation - insulation - van conversion

TOP TIP

You should not be tempted to stuff more insulation than is needed. The insulation compresses very well, but the air inside the insulation is what helps give it thermal properties, so compressing it too much will actually work against you. You want it puffy. ☁️

4

Insulating the doors

We also insulated our sliding door and back door, including removing any panels we could to stuff insulation everywhere. We did our best to not put insulating where there were a lot of cables, in case we need to replace any in the future.

PIR Board will fill the big window cavities on the sides as well as the back door window cavities, since this has better thermal properties and is rigid, so we left those empty for next time.

recycled plastic insulation - insulation - van conversion

quick look

Quick Steps Overview:

  1. Cut the insulation to size
  2. Fit into holes
  3. Stuff more into all available gaps, including doors

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