Overall, we were very happy with the end result. The part we weren’t happy about was how labor intensive it was. Some people may also want to consider adding more insulation, if they don’t want to wear as many layers inside their van or worry about their pipes freezing.
When you are just starting out on the van conversion, you will be doing a lot of tasks that are, but don’t feel, productive because they are things you just take for granted in your normal house. So, there is risk of getting burnt out on these steps vs being anal about things such as cabinetry.
Labor: To improve on labor, we would’ve used only foam sealant, leaving out Polyiso all together. Because Polyiso is a rigid foam, its size needs to be exact or smaller than the area it is filling. Measuring and cutting each individual pieces takes a lot of time. Had we only used foam sealant, both of these steps would have been eliminated and we would have saved some money, by buying foam sealant in a larger quantity (Tiger Foam) and getting a bulk discount.
Space: Another thing to consider is how much of your van do you want to: fill with insulation? leave as open space for moving around in? use as storage space? In our case, Philip is very tall, so we opted for adding the minimum amount of insulation by using materials with high R values. It is pointless to buy a van you can stand up in and insulate it so much that you no longer can. Additionally, the space feels more open, which has been especially nice on rainy days, when you don’t want to open the sliding door. The trade off to this is having metal that directly touched the subfloor (the floor gets quite cold in the winter!) or small areas where metal is exposed on the walls.
Floor Insulation Improvements: The subfloor and floor both have an R value of their own, so, technically, there is no direct contact between you and the metal on the floor of the van. But, there is direct contact between the metal and subfloor/floor. If you were to cover the metal ribs in insulation, this would, overtime, lead to the insulation compressing and decrease the R value. To add more insulation the floor, some people add wood supports to increase the thickness of insulation, without it being compressed. In our case, we opted to not do this because it would have decreased the space inside the van. Overall, because hot air rises, the floor is always going to be the coldest area of your van and, with only our body heat and stove providing heat, there is no way for the floor to warm up.
We are considering getting a heat source and are curious how the floor will feel then, but, in the meantime, we are wearing down booties and are quite happy!
In terms of the exposed spots on our walls, there are only two: one behind the bed cushions (so bed cushions are insulating here) and the other by the fridge (so never in direct contact to us, but still letting the cold/heat in).