Insulating your van is necessary if you’re going to be staying in colder areas. There are numerous ways to do so, but you might be wondering: what is the cheapest way to insulate a van?
Rigid foam board is the cheapest and most affordable product to use when it comes to insulating your van conversion. At $0.41 per square foot, you will not find a more affordable option that is also incredibly easy to work with.
Here’s what you need to know about insulating your van inexpensively with rigid foam board.
Pros of Using Cheap Rigid Foam Board to Insulate Your Van
Rigid foam board is great for insulating your van because it contains moisture-resistant material. It won’t absorb water or tear like some other insulation materials, so there’s no need to worry about it getting damp and deteriorating over time.
Also, rigid foam board comes in easy-to-handle sizes, which makes it very simple to fit it onto the interior of your van. All you have to do is measure how much foam board you need, cut it to size and attach it to the walls of your van. It’s also readily available at stores like Home Depot and Lowes.
Of course, it’s cheap – that’s another great benefit.
Cons of Using Foam Board to Insulate Your Van
If you plan on using foam board to insulate your van, be aware that it won’t insulate as well as some other DIY insulation materials . For example, polystyrene is better at absorbing sound and stopping drafts.
Different Types of Foam Board
There are a few different types of foam board.
- Polyiso foam board is eco-friendly and often comes with 1 side lined with foil. It’s fairly inexpensive but can sometimes be harder to find than other kinds of foam board.
- XPS Foam board is moisture proof and very durable. It’s also cheaper than polyiso foam board, but isn’t eco-friendly at all.
- EPS Foam board is incredibly cheap, but it’s basically just Styrofoam. It’s not the best choice for insulation material.
Where to Buy Foam Board for Insulating Your Van
Finding foam board should be very easy. It will be available at almost any hardware store or home improvement center. Look in the section that has insulation materials for your home, and you should find foam boards there.
If not, have no fear! You can also buy it online through Amazon or another e-commerce website that has project materials. If you’re trying to save as much money as possible, though, you should look for it locally first.
The boards come in standard sizes, but it can also be cut to just the right size. You can always ask an employee for assistance if you need to.
Tips for Using Foam Board to Insulate Your Van
Using the foam board to insulate your van isn’t super difficult, but it will take some time. Here are some tips to help make the process easier.
- Clean out the van well before you start so you don’t have to work around a lot of stuff.
- Measure the walls of your vehicle before buying insulation so you know what size to buy.
- Use a straight edge for cutting the foam board. A cheap metal ruler will work fine for this purpose.
- When making cuts, use a sharp knife. Dull knives will cause you a lot of frustration and make a mess of your foam board, so be sure to use a very sharp one.
- Use a hot glue gun or some other type of spray adhesive to attach the insulation to the van walls. Hold it in place for a minute so the glue can cure a bit and keep it in place.
- Cut precisely so you don’t have air leaks somewhere on your insulation.
- Patch any gaps with some caulking.
Insulating your van doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to stay warm when camping out in colder weather.
Other Options for Insulating Your Van
If you decide that foam board isn’t for you, there are a number of other insulation materials that can be used.
Reflective Insulation – Reflective insulation (reflectix) is a good option because it’s easy to work with and has several thermal benefits. It reflects heat back into the van during cold weather, which helps maintain warmth. It also inhibits the transfer of hot air in warmer conditions, which helps keep the van cool. It is particularly good for covering windows.
Fiberglass Insulation – Fiberglass insulation (owenscorning.com) can be purchased in batts and sheets, making it easy to install and cut. The downside is that fiberglass does contain hazardous chemicals. You’ll need protective gear to work around or with it, which adds to the expense of using it.
Closed Cell Spray Foam – Closed cell spray foam (foamitgreen.com) insulation is an effective way to insulate your van because it seals all air leaks and prevents outside moisture from getting in. It’s also safe to use, but the downside is that it’s expensive. That said, it’s nice to use for awkward areas like corners and for patching cracks.
Sheep Wool – Sheep’s wool (havelockwool.com) insulation is also a good option because it’s easy to install and maintain. It’s also an eco-friendly option. It’s a renewable resource and is completely non-toxic.
Is it Worth It to Insulate Your Van?
If you’re short on time or funds, you might be wondering: is it worth it to insulate your van?
While it is an extra expense, insulating your van can make a big difference when it comes to comfort. You’ll be able to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer if you add insulation to your vehicle. In the long run, you’re probably going to feel that it’s worth it to insulate your van.
More Tips for Staying Warm in Your Van
Insulating your van is only part of the equation when it comes to making sure you stay warm in cold weather situations. Here are a few more tips for staying warm in your van:
- Make sure you have a good sleeping bag . It should be rated for colder temperatures that are common for where you live.
- Drink warm drinks like coffee or hot chocolate to stay warm.
- Dress in layers when going to sleep.
- Wear socks or slippers when you’re in the van.
- Turn on a small electric heater when it’s cold outside.
- Eat foods with warming herbs and spices like garlic, horseradish, ginger, cinnamon or cayenne pepper to help keep you warm.
- Bring along blankets and light quilts to help keep your body heat contained.
- Put on a hat. Your head loses a lot of heat through your scalp so covering it up will help the rest of your body stay warm.
Van living is an awesome lifestyle, but you want to be comfortable. Insulating your van to stay warm is an excellent idea when it comes to making your life on the road more pleasant.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.