Day 8 The insulating continues Walls and Floors

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.

escargot horizon transition achat

Les fils électriques installés derrière le pare-vapeur. Important de bien sceller tout autour de l’ouverture.

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!

isolation camion

La porte de derrière où se trouve normalement la poignée sera pour sceller!

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.


escargot horizon transition pose du plancher

Pose du styromousse

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.

Protecting the insulation: The vapour barrier

escargot horizon transition

L’avant de l’escargot semble isolé!

The advantage of doing a project like this, whether it’s Audrey or me, is that we are complete novices at it and we learn something new every step of the way. So, now we know: if you insulate, it’s important to protect the insulation from humidity. This is done with a vapour barrier. It could be paper or plastic on the one side, but the other side will always be aluminum. The vapour barrier serves to keep humidity from getting in and rotting away the insulation which always needs to be kept dry.

escargot horizon transition

Il faut bien isoler les portes également!

There were several types to choose from and, after reading about remodeling vehicles, the multilayered type seemed to be the best solution, but it isn’t to be found in Quebec. We therefore opted for a simple plastic vapour barrier that is very resistant. The bright (aluminum) side goes on the inside! Once we had put fibreglass insulation from wall to ceiling, we tackled the vapour barrier.

escargot horizon transition achat

Il faut penser à faire passer l’électricité!

The wooden braces that we used to hold the fibreglass proved to be like faithful friends, because we were able to staple the plastic onto them. We thus avoided huge bubbles. (Later on we would realize that we hadn’t done a very good job of this, which would complicate things during the next step). There is sticky red paper that is used not only to cover the cuts in the vapour barrier but also to cover the holes that are bound to pop up (notably around the staples), so you end up with a van that is decked out in its finest clothes.

Protection from heat, cold, and noise: Insulatio

Même les portes sont isolées 🙂

We had visions of sun, palm trees, beaches, etc., at least that was our aim. Most of the time we would be able to say that sleeping under the stars in a place like this was idyllic. Imagining living in the van over the long term, you can imagine that we would sometimes have to actually be INSIDE the van at some inopportune moments. The sun can be a real scourge inside a metal box. For this reason, we decided to tackle the insulation of the snail as the next step in its transformation. We were thinking mostly about protection from the cold, but also the heat and noise.

Several options were open to us in terms of insulation. Polyurethane foam insulation on the walls would have been the ideal solution. You spray it on, and it foams up and hardens and stays in place. It seems that you can even nail pieces of wood into it. You nail them on and then, when it sets, you can use them as a step. The cost was high, though, around $450 for the van. That’s the price we were told. We didn’t really shop around, but it still seemed a little too expensive for us.

After consulting several web sites that talked about refurbishing vehicles, we opted for fibreglass and Styrofoam. Fibreglass is less expensive than polyurethane and it also has the advantage of being a better insulation from vibrations. As well, it can be easily moved around if there is need. Imagine making a hole for a pipe or for ventilation and all you have to do is push it and move it around to the desired spot. Polyurethane has to be broken up, taken off, and then sprayed again.

But when you’re insulating, there mustn’t be any holes! With the problem of having a breech in the metal of the floor on the driver’s side, a friend gave us a solution! He gave us a steel plate that Laurent was able to cut to fit the breech. After it had a coat of anti-rust paint, the plate was then riveted to the floor, and the problem was resolved. Thanks for that, Vincent!

If you have a hole like this in your undercarriage, it is important to take off all the rust and the weakened metal around it. This way, you can be sure that you are riveting the protective steel plate onto solid parts. That is also important, because once rust is present, it will continue to spread