How To Soundproof and Clean a Campervan
No doubt when you first get your van home the first thing you will want to do is give it a really good clean. Commercial vans are notoriously dirty and and not the most cared for so this is a really important step not only in the conversion process but also to maintain and protect the van long term.
Soundproofing or sound deadening and cleaning a new campervan is one of the first things you will get stuck into during the build process. It’s a pretty simple process- or was with our sprinter as we managed to get a pretty clean van to begin with which always helps.
Step 1: Removing plywood and flooring
The first thing I will say is - is is not easy in a sprinter floor! I will write a further blog on this soon as it was a real pain for us and I know a lot of others have struggled too.
You will need to remove any ply panels and flooring allowing you to clean the van. No doubt under the floor will be a lot of dirt and random rubbish (unless you are very lucky!) and you will need to keep your eyes peeled for rust.
It’s worth keeping the floor and plywood if it’s in good condition as it can be reused in the van. You can also use the wood as templates for any new wood that needs replacing e.g. the doors on the back panels (should there be any).
If the wood is in poor condition then it’s worth replacing it, especially if it’s got wet as the last thing you want is to encourage any damp or mould build up further down the line. You can get full kits from places like here: Ebay- LWB Sprinter Plywood Lining Kit.
Should you take the Bulkhead out of a Campervan?
One of the big questions in our first build was- should we take the bulk head out of the campervan? Initially we were thinking of taking it out to give a little extra space and give quick access to the front. After long consideration it was decided to keep it in but cut the center panel out so in the event of any emergency we could slip through the cut out and into the drivers seat and away we go. Also there is the safety aspect that the bulkhead is made of steel is there to protect you. Thankfully there has never been no need to escape in an emergency so far, although we do squeeze through it if it’s foul weather outside!
Leaving the bulk head in has worked really well as as we benefit from the extra wall which we attached the kitchen units too. By closing the gap off with a insulated fabric panel at night or during the day we can shut off the cab which makes a massive temperature difference. The cab is either a freezer in the winter or a furnace in the summer so it becomes a really important thing to regulate the temperature. This is definitely something we will be doing in our future builds as it's worked so well.
Step 2: Cleaning the Campervan
It’s amazing how dirty the vans can get so make sure you thoroughly clean every little nook and cranny insure. It’s also a really good way of checking for any rust or corrosion. If it’s rust then it needs cleaning and treating with metal treatment paint or welding if there are more serious patches.
Depending on the type of insulation you plan to install you could even polish the metal on the inside of the van to protect it further. The only time we wouldn't recommend doing that is if you intend to use something like spray foam insulation as it could potentially affect the bond.
STEP 3: How to Remove and Treat Rust from you Campervan Conversion
Look for it…and look again! At first glance it may look all fine but there may be patches hidden. Use a screwdriver or something similar to tap and check how bad the rust patches are and whilst you are at it you get for of any large flaky patches with the screwdriver.
Wire Brush- Use a wire brush to get rid of flaky bits and loose paint. Don’t worry about removing it all completely- the wire brush just needs to remove the loose bits.
Rust treatment- There are many types you can use but we have heard good reports about this one: Aquasteel rust converter . You will need to let it fully dry for according to the instructions and try and apply on a dry warm day to speed this up.
Apply metal paint- You will then need to apply special direct to rust metal paint. Hammerite make a very good version here. You will need to apply 2 coats. It will look pretty messy but don’t worry as this will be covered back up with the plywood anyway and you can rest safe in the knowledge you van is fully treated.
Step 4: Soundproofing your Campervan
Soundproofing was the easiest job and all it involved was cutting squares of material and sticking them onto the van walls, doors and celling. This will absorb some of the noise from driving as will keeping the bulkhead in. Remember- with soundproofing you don’t need to fill each full panel with soundproofing- just into the middle of each panel. This is because the sound proofing material weighs an absolute tonne and it's highly effective so doesn't need to be over the whole van. You would be surprised what a difference it makes with just a small amount used!
Vanessa & Adam did a helpful video on how to apply sound deadening here:
What is the best Material to use for Soundproofing?
We use Silent Coat Sound deadening material based on the excellent reviews and being recommended it from a few other van lifers.
You can get 20 sheets of Silent Coat here.
You can get 40 sheets of Silent Coat here.
We use approximately 20 sheets and that was enough for our long wheelbase sprinter van. Have a look at the reviews and you see for yourself this is an excellent product.
The van is now ready to be insulated- see our next blog on how to insulate your campervan for the next steps!
If you have any questions then please drop us a line here.
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