On this 8th day of working on the Snail, we are still making progress on the insulation. As we said before, we put fibreglass insulation on the floor and roof, and we covered it all with a vapour barrier in order to keep out the humidity.
It was the first time that we had ever installed this type of material. It’s not the easiest stuff to work with, especially when you’re installing it in a van, because the lines aren’t always straight. If we were to do it over again, we would pay attention to fully stretching out the vapour barrier and to making sure that it takes the shape of the van. We also should have made sure that the wooden battens were holding the fibreglass better. Actually, we should have done a lot of things, but live and learn.
Not knowing much about electricity, and not having well-established plans for the way we wanted to run the wires, we ran them along the sides. They are BX brand wires that we found. They have a metal sheath that makes everything safer. Having put them in ahead of time, we were able to install them in the metal structure of the van, behind the fibreglass and the vapour barrier. They are well hidden!
We decided to give the van an entirely new look, so we took out most of the shell that was left on the front doors. We gave ourselves more work by doing this, but it allowed us to insulate the van to the maximum. We also want to make the most of the space up front, and not cut from front to back, like some van refurbishers do. Redoing the wooden doors will also allow us to hang stuff on them.
Once the walls and doors were finished, we were able to move on to the floor. After reading up on what can be done, we chose ¼ inch Styrofoam that already has one side covered in vapour barrier. According to what we read, you can walk on it and the insulation is very good for heat and vibrations. It was our choice to insulate the snail, and we knew that we wouldn’t always be going to sunny destinations. Our insulation isn’t meant to allow us to live in our van in -30 temperatures, but if happened that way at least we wouldn’t be living in a fridge. The insulation is also good to block out heat and noise.
Installing Styrofoam (or hard polystyrene) is a lot easier than fibreglass and vapour barrier. You just have to be careful in your measurements, and cut according to the shapes of the wheels and steps. You feel like you’re making a lot of progress quickly! However, while you’re installing it, you have to avoid walking on it as much as possible so that you don’t break it and to keep the pieces whole. You therefore have to do the floor quickly before you can move around inside.
Also published on Medium.