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I am getting close to being ready for installing insulation. Just have a few more conduits (for future power/speaker/water lines) in the wall cavities and it'll be good to go. I am leaning toward closed cell spray foam insulation for a few reasons: the high R-value it offers, the built-in vapor barrier and also the added structural rigidity it'll provide along with sealing up those hard-to-reach places that rigid boards can't. I work with a spray foam contractor that sprays the houses I build. I got off the phone with one of their guys earlier who had some information that I want to verify with those who have gone the closed-cell route.

They are recommending Bayer Bayseal CC-X. This has an R-value of 6.9/inch which seams to be one of the higher values I've seen. I am thinking of spraying 2" on the walls and ceiling. Not sure if it is worthy on the floor or if I should build it up with 2" of Thermasheath (R-13). There aren't significant savings once you consider the labor associated with furring up the low flutes to be flush with the top flutes ($1/SF Thermasheath compared to roughly $2.50/SF with Bayseal CC-X).

1. I know panel distortion is a possible result if they spray too thick of a coat due to application temperature. From what I was told, the minimum they can spray in a coat is about 1.5" so they would come back with a thin top-coat.

2. The temperature of the foam is somewhere between 175F and 200F at application.

3. Offgasing of the foam should be "complete" in less than 12 hours with the doors and windows left open.

Questions:
1. What products have others used? Cost?

2. Was anyone able to get their installer to spray thinner, but more coats?

3. Considering how hot the body (color is white) gets in the summer sun, does this seem to be risky? Distortion an issue on your installation? Photos?

4. Spray the floor or build it up?

5. If anyone has any advice/regrets about closed cell installation please let me know. I would plan on installing some left-in-place blockouts around the mechanics within the door panels...clearly don't want the foam preventing those from functioning.

Product Data on Bayseal CC-X: http://www.idi-insulation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Bayseal-CC-X.pdf

Thanks!
 

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The flamespread looks low which is good for anything automotive but it probably comes down to vibration resistance. Will this product withstand the vigors of on-road/off-road life without slowly poisioning the air that you breathe, and without crumbling. I'd vote building the floor up in case you need to make cuts in it later on and it seems a lot less fussy.
 

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Definitely would not spray the floor. That would be tough to level. Just use 1/2" flexible closed cell foam between the corrugations and rigid polyiso.

One way to do a floor that worked well for my needs:

http://www.ortontransit.info/testfloor.php

The 80/20 framework was required to make it easy to mount the cabinets.

From what I have read and the pictures I have seen of distorted van steel panels, I would be very hesitant. My guess is it can be done by someone who knows the tricks but is it the guy you hire?
 

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I am getting close to being ready for installing insulation. Just have a few more conduits (for future power/speaker/water lines) in the wall cavities and it'll be good to go. I am leaning toward closed cell spray foam insulation for a few reasons: the high R-value it offers, the built-in vapor barrier and also the added structural rigidity it'll provide along with sealing up those hard-to-reach places that rigid boards can't. I work with a spray foam contractor that sprays the houses I build. I got off the phone with one of their guys earlier who had some information that I want to verify with those who have gone the closed-cell route.

They are recommending Bayer Bayseal CC-X. This has an R-value of 6.9/inch which seams to be one of the higher values I've seen. I am thinking of spraying 2" on the walls and ceiling. Not sure if it is worthy on the floor or if I should build it up with 2" of Thermasheath (R-13). There aren't significant savings once you consider the labor associated with furring up the low flutes to be flush with the top flutes ($1/SF Thermasheath compared to roughly $2.50/SF with Bayseal CC-X).

1. I know panel distortion is a possible result if they spray too thick of a coat due to application temperature. From what I was told, the minimum they can spray in a coat is about 1.5" so they would come back with a thin top-coat.

2. The temperature of the foam is somewhere between 175F and 200F at application.

3. Offgasing of the foam should be "complete" in less than 12 hours with the doors and windows left open.

Questions:
1. What products have others used? Cost?

2. Was anyone able to get their installer to spray thinner, but more coats?

3. Considering how hot the body (color is white) gets in the summer sun, does this seem to be risky? Distortion an issue on your installation? Photos?

4. Spray the floor or build it up?

5. If anyone has any advice/regrets about closed cell installation please let me know. I would plan on installing some left-in-place blockouts around the mechanics within the door panels...clearly don't want the foam preventing those from functioning.

Product Data on Bayseal CC-X: http://www.idi-insulation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Bayseal-CC-X.pdf

Thanks!
Hi,
I sprayed the closed cell urethane on the walls and ceiling of my ProMaster van using one of the two bottle kits that Home Depot sells. It went well, and has held up well -- no squeaks or detachment -- its very well adhered to the van sheet metal.

If you can have it sprayed by a pro at a reasonable cost, that sounds good to me. The masking to protect things you don't want sprayed is probably the most time consuming thing, and you could do that part and maybe save some money.

2 inches is certainly plenty thick. I did about an inch. I have a spreadsheet on my site that you can use to estimate heat loss from the van with various levels of wall, ceiling, floor, and window insulation. You can get some idea from the spreadsheet when you hit the diminishing returns point. There is a link to the spreadsheet on this page: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/heat-loss-calculator-for-camper-van-conversions/
More on insulating on this page: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/install-insulation/#How_Much_Insulation_Do_You_Need

I think that the minimum layer thickness of 1.5 inches must be their eqipment, as I was able to apply the 1 inch thick that I used in a couple layers -- that is, about a half inch per layer. I have read about cases of people who saw some distortion in the sheet metal that was likely due to spraying too much in one layer, so this is something to check on.

I came out of the whole process feeling like if I had found the descriptions of applying rigid sheets of polyiso insulation using GreatStuff and then filling in the gaps with GreatStuff I probably would have gone that way -- its probably about the same amount of work, but the spray foaming is more stressfull and probably has more things that can go wrong. But, if you have a good pro to do it, that sounds good too.

I'd do the floor with rigid board insulation as it seems like it could be a level the foam insulation on the floor. We used Polyiso under light plywood on the floor, and it has been fine, but we don't load heavy things like motor cycles in the back.

Gary
 

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Evmatthe:

I was going to use spray foam (for the reasons that you mention) but decided against it because:

1. I'm working things out as I go along and wasn't prepared to insulate the whole van at once.

2. Higher costs (unlike you, I am retired and my labour is free).

3. There seems to be little value in insulating the large upper and lower cavities in the Transit because the heat will flow through the many metal webs connecting the interior and the exterior.

4. I decided that there are so many inaccessible channels connected to the D and C pillars that the idea of sealing interior water vapour from the metal skin probably won't work.

5. After I am done there will still be enough bare metal (around door frames and other places), as well as drafts, to negate a superior insulation job elsewhere.


What I am in the process of doing:

1. Installed polyester quilt stuffing in the large upper and lower cavities. It is easy, very economical, and provides excellent acoustical insulation, eliminating the drum-like sounds my (high roof, extended length) van used to make on the highway. I plan on buying some more for the lower doors and around the ceiling liner. I don't know if I will wind up with condensation in these areas but I will try to seal up the surface openings with a thin flexible closed cell polyethylene foam sheet attached with acoustical sealant. I also have an Espar heater and will try to have sufficient ventilation to minimize condensation in the winter.

2. Attached longitudinal hardwood rails to the interior and am installing Extruded Polystyrene Foam (XPS) sheets between the rails as my primary source of insulation. Floor has 6 joists attached with 3M 5200 and 1.5" XPS. Walls have 3 rails bolted on with Rivnuts and 1" XPS. Ceiling has 2-4 rails (I haven't decided yet) bolted on with Rivnuts and 2.5" XPS. I chose XPS over Polyiso because it is mechanically stronger, works better in cold climates, doesn't degrade as quickly, and doesn't retain as much water. I do find cutting the foam to match the irregular geometry of the van time consuming. I will have to pad with layers of thinner foam to take care of the surface irregularities. And on my first attempt I did get a squeaking floor, probably foam on metal.

3. Building an insulated partition. Isolating the cab (and its windows) from the living area will probably provide more benefit than any superior insulation job in the back. And if you have windows in the cargo area, spray foam might be overkill.

If I were to use spray foam I would consider the following:

1. Completely fill the upper and lower cavities with polyester quilt stuffing before spraying. This will lower costs and possibly save some grief from foam expanding in restricted cavities. Also in there are sensors, electrical connectors, air vents on both rear bottom sides of the van, and bolts for the sliding doors. These might need to be accessed later. I wouldn't try to fill the C and D pillars nor the roof ribs for similar reasons. I don't see much benefit in filling these areas anyway.

2. The upfitter that I was going to use mentioned that, in order to avoid ripples from spray foam, they taped where the ribs meet the van skin to stop the foam from getting in between the two and expanding.

3. I think that you are correct to be concerned about a thick layer being applied initially. I would try for thin layers, particularly at the start. Or hire someone with experience spaying vans. The upfitter did warn me that rippling is possible, though I could see none in the job they were just finishing up.

4. To level the spray foam I would try to use a long vibrating blade, maybe a sharpened piece of angle iron attached to a reciprocating sander.


Best wishes.
 

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I was going to use spray foam (for the reasons that you mention) but decided against it because:

1. I'm working things out as I go along and wasn't prepared to insulate the whole van at once.

2. Higher costs (I am retired and my labour is free).

3. There seems to be little value in insulating the large upper and lower cavities in the Transit because the heat will flow through the many metal webs connecting the interior and the exterior.

4. I decided that there is so many inaccessible channels connected to the D and C pillars that the idea of sealing interior water vapour from the metal skin probably won't work.

5. After I am done there will still be enough bare metal (around door frames and other places) to negate a superior insulation job elsewhere.


Best wishes.
Hi,
I think there is a tendency to overestimate the heat loss through the ribs and other small areas that don't get insulated.

As an example, say you have 100 sqft of van skin of which 10 sqft is ribs and places you can't insulate,

If its 30F outside and 70F inside, then the heat loss for the whole thing before you insulate at all is about:

Heat Loss with no insulation = (90 sqft)(70F - 30F) / (R1) + (10 sqft)(70F - 30F) / (R1) = 3600 BTU/hr + 400 BTU/gr = 4000 BTU per hour

The R1 is the R value of the bare metal -- the metal and the ribs have essentially zero R value, but there is a still air layer inside the metal that has an R value of about 0.65 and a moving air film on the outside that has an R value of about 0.3 making for a total R value of about R1 -- this is the same situation as a single glazed glass window where the glass itself has no R value, but the two air films provide about R1.

If you insulate the 90 sqft of accessible wall to (say) R10, then the total heat loss is:

Heat Loss with insulation = (90 sqft)(70F - 30F) / (R10) + (10 sqft)(70F - 30F) / (R1) =
360 BTU/hr + 400 BTU/hr = 750 BTU per hour.

So, the total heat loss drops from 4000 down to 750 BTU/hr if you just insulate the 90 sqft you can get at and leave the rest bare.
Even though the bare part is now losing more heat than the insulated part you are still getting an 80% reduction in total heat loss.

So, I think, it always makes sense to insulate the areas you can even if it leaves other areas you can't get to that have high heat loss.
Does this make sense?

Gary
 

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Gary:

I think that we are in agreement here:

Go after the low hanging fruit.
Get the biggest bang for your buck.
Don't worry too much about the last (often difficult and expensive) 10%.

Regarding the Transit:

It may be nearly impossible to achieve the full benefits of spray foam on the Transit. The ribs/channels/frames/cavities are huge and complicated.
Maybe other insulation methods are just as effective on the Transit and more economical or convenient.
 

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Speaking of heat loss,
we spent our first cold night out there with our Webasto heater running.

Outside temp was 37F, inside temp was 55F.


In the morning, we clearly observed the effect of the heat loss through thermal bridges:



There is condensation where Thinsulate is installed, there is evaporation at frame locations (at this moment, the frames are still "bare" inside the van).

Anyway, this helped me visualize the effect of insulation and the importance of adding something on the frames... to be continued!
 

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that is what i did: 2x2 studs rivnut to the frames, an inch and a half of polyiso and reflectix in the walls, floor and ceiling, with no exposed steel in the living area. i lost about 3 and 1/2 inches of interior width and some headroom too but i wanted a four seasons camper since here in the south winter days can be quite nice but the nights get cold! (plus christmas time trips to wisconsin)
 

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Distortion an issue on your installation? Photos?
These are not our vans so don't know what product was used. There are more if you want to see them. Best advice is not to use spray foam. Off-gassing is also a concern and can make some people sick. Our barn was spray foamed and the smell is still noticeable 1 year later. Would not want that smell in my living space. If your van ever needs body work, the job will be much more difficult due to the spray foam.

We sell 3M Thinsulate(TM) which is a competing product.



 

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that new car smell is a product of off-gassing, there was a big scare some years back over formaldehyde in plywood off-gassing in fema camper trailers used during hurricane katrina, so should we buy only used vans and build the interiors out of hardwood? leave the van siting in the driveway in the hot summer sun with the windows/roof vent cracked for a week or two and almost all off-gassing will come to an end!
 

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... leave the van siting in the driveway in the hot summer sun with the windows/roof vent cracked for a week or two and almost all off-gassing will come to an end!
When I applied a couple coats of oil based polyurethane to my rails and then reinstalled them, my van smelled like a wooden boat for a while. It brought back some childhood memories.

I was concerned about VOCs in acoustical sealants (which contain naphtha) and did a little testing this Spring. I put some black acoustical sealant in a closed container on the warm air register and smelled it periodically over a two week period. It had a strong, long lasting, gasoline smell. Then I did a little searching and found an acoustical sealant (Mulco Acoustik) which has lower levels of naphtha. It smelled like floor paste wax (more childhood memories). I used it to attach a foam block onto a metal sheet and left it in the barn for a month. The smell disappeared. My conclusion: choose reasonable products, ventilate the van, and don't worry. The new car smell will disappear.

And I think that there are spray foam formulations that are perfectly fine for interior use.
 

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I used rigid foam and fluffy insulation ...
I'm using polyester quilt stuffing instead of Fiberglass Pink because it doesn't turn into clumps when wet and it is more flexible and easier to install in restricted spaces than Roxul.

Originally I was planning on using a polyester batt insulation manufactured by Dow but it has been discontinued. It probably wasn't cost effective in the housing market. But polyester quilt stuffing is cost effective for van insulation. Buy it at your local discount fabric store in large bales.
 

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I'm using this stuff- it is used a lot in sleeping bags and outerwear>
https://ripstopbytheroll.com/products/climashield-apex-5-oz-sq-yd

That material looks pretty thin and there is no R-value given. For comparison, Thinsulate(TM) SM600L is 1.75" thick and is 600 grams/m2 so roughly 4 times the amount of fibers for roughly twice the cost.


Roxul and Fiberglass are not recommended for use in vehicles. Roxul is mineral fibers which can absorb water and are treated with borates for fire resistance. Roxul and Fiberglass break down with vibration which allows fibers to settle in the bottom of the wall cavities where it can soak up water and block drain passages.
 

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The Climashield R value is somewhere between 4 and 5 and it was $1.38 per sq ft. The Thinsulate is $2.66 per sq ft.
As for thin the weight I bought is 1.2" which is just about right for the ceiling since the available depth between the ribs is about 1.5" IIRC. It is available both thinner and thicker.
I may double it up in some areas in the walls..

It isn't Roxul or fibreglass it is single filament spun polyester.
 
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