preparation & insulation

Our first task after the floor went in was securing to the vans walls what we called the ‘uprights’. Our aim was to have as many of these as required in strategic places to enable us a way to secure the units to the van but also to give us something to secure the lamberia to at the end. As we have a rather curvaceous van, we gave all these little fellas some small horizontal cuts at the top end and then bolted them to the metal body of the van. We soon learnt to leave them a touch short of the ceiling as it helps to make it easier to get them parallel to each other and straight – which is a massive bonus down the line!

Unfortunately, we ended up adding and removing many of these at later dates to accommodate for layout changes we hadn’t predicted. You live and you learn I guess.

We didn’t pay too much attention to planning anything about insulation, assuming it would be a bit self explanatory and there would only be one or two types to choose from. How wrong we were!

All we really knew was that we didn’t want to use fibreglass as we didn’t feel sure we could seal it off well enough to stop the fibres running loose in the living space. We had heard some really good things about sheep’s wool, but the waiting list to order some in was about six weeks, and it was incredibly expensive so we rather quickly drew a line under that.

There are endless variants to the different types – some hold up better to heat, some to moisture. Some are literally better than others, but also come with a large price tag. A common one (we almost went for it too) is polystyrene, but apparently it doesn’t hold up to heat as well as polyfoam. Every form of insulation had it’s pro’s and con’s, it just depends on what you want really. And then there was the question of whether or not to seal the insulation. If you seal it, it will trap the air in there, essentially creating an added barrier of insulation – air is the best form of insulation – but you also run the risk that trapped moisture in there can’t get out and you’ll find yourself running into mould problems down the line.

We decided to talk to some professionals about this topic, but still really struggled to find a solid, direct answer to some of our questions. A builder friend of Paul’s suggested we use polystyrene, so we were all set on that until we read that polystyrene doesn’t have a very good heat tolerance. Even Zsu’s father, who is an architect, didn’t have a straight answer for us.

It seemed everyone we talked to had a varying opinion on the matter, and everyone’s opinion seemed to be conflicting. It gave us quite the headache at times!

In the end, after about a month and seeking many different peoples opinion – and receiving as many (or possibly more) different answers – we visited a campervan conversion company and they said they always use polyfoam. That was good enough for us.

We did some calculations and figured we’d need near the 15 m² mark. Along with the polyfoam we picked up some amazingly tough and strong glue (Pattex Palmatex) and so eagerly set about cutting and trying to stick the polyfoam pieces to the vans wall. The only problem was that at -10°C outside, the glue didn’t want to work at all. It was the middle of January and Budapest was really hit hard with a cold snap. As we couldn’t see any improvement in the weather in the foreseeable future, we decided (on the sunny days) to park with the wall we wanted to glue facing the sun and then use the (if we were lucky) barely positive temperature and two hour gap between 11am and 1pm to glue as much as we could, before the sun disappeared from sight. It took us longer than it should have, but we got there in the end.

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