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Insulating Your RV For All American Drives

The open road is just there, waiting for you. To make sure your RV is ready for those amazing American drives, you’ll want the right insulation installed in your vehicle to keep things at the right temperature no matter where you are.

We’re here to help you make it happen, so you’re ready for whatever the adventure throws your way.

Preparing your road trips

It’s very tempting to jump in and drive - somewhere, anywhere - because you’re so excited and the road is waiting for you.

That said, it’s a good idea to think ahead.

An idea of where you want to go

We’re not suggesting that you know everywhere you might like to go right from the start, but a general list of the kind of trips you want to make will help make sure your RV is ready for whatever you’ll find out there, and what you’ll encounter along the way.

There’s nothing worse than being pitched up for the night, perhaps in the middle of nowhere, and realising you’re missing something or haven’t got the right appliances. You can’t plan for every eventuality, but you can get a good idea of what you’ll need in most cases.

What climates will you encounter?

One of the biggest considerations are the temperatures you’ll encounter. This can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy your road trip, as no one wants to be too hot or too cold.

It’s also why good insulation for your RV can make such a difference, as this will keep hot air in or hot air out, depending on what you’re looking for and the environment you’re travelling in.

What kind of road conditions will you face?

The Great American Road Trips offer quite the adventure no matter how you tackle them - it’s why they’re so iconic. You might already have an idea of what to expect; long roads, gorgeous scenery, country towns and more. It’s going to be incredible.

That said, while the road conditions might be stable, for the most part, are you able to handle off-road routes? Have the roads been maintained well? What are fuel stations like and can they handle a vehicle of your size? All of these things are worth doing a little research on first.

Before starting any work on your RV

There’s no reason to do extra work you don’t have to, so a few simple steps for planning and research will make sure you spend your time doing what you want - insulating your RV for those great road trips you have planned!

Check what your working with

Some newer model RVs might have better insulation than older models, but it’s always worth checking what the situation is with your vehicle. A quick search online will give you a starting point as to what should be there, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and give it a closer inspection.

You’re going to have to strip down the vehicle to install insulation, so it’s a good chance to get an idea of what you need.

The R-value

The R-value is assigned to insulation materials and represents their thermal efficiency, often measured in inches per material. A higher R-value is better, but take into account the costs of each material, how easy it is to install, how much you need and even the climates you’ll be exploring.

Different types of insulation

There are different kinds of insulation to choose from, and all have their uses and advantages. Knowing which kind to use will be decided by your RV, budget and what R-value you want to reach - influenced by the kind of climates you’ll encounter.

Fiberglass insulation is one of the most common types around, found in vehicles and in the home. It has a good R-value and is a cost-effective solution, however it doesn’t last as long as other types and will need to be replaced over time.

Rigid foam insulation is more expensive than fiberglass, but it lasts a lot longer, making it a great choice for those who want to do the job once and not worry about it again until then. The foam panels come in different shapes and sizes, and slide in against the metalwork of your vehicle. You might need to cut it to size in some places, so it can be a bit trickier.

Spray foam insulation is easier to install than rigid foam, but it has a lower R-value. An even spray across the metalwork of your vehicle will create the same longlasting insulation barrier as rigid foam, but you might need more of it.

In some cases, a combination of insulation materials can help, especially with smaller, oddly-shaped areas.

How difficult is it to insulate an RV?

Insulating an RV isn’t a difficult task, but it can be a bit of a tedious process. The benefits are massive, though, and it’s definitely something to put time into. The difficulty increases depending on the material used and the size of the RV.

As such, this is a project ranking from beginner to intermediate in difficulty level, but it’s definitely doable with the right plan and attitude.

Depending on the size of the RV, and the insulation materials used, this can be done in anywhere from 18 to 72 hours.

What tools are needed?

There are plenty of tools that can be used to insulate an RV, such as:

How to insulate your RV

Insulating your RV is something that you should do early on, before any trips and ideally before kitting out the vehicle - as you will probably need to pull these things out to install the insulation. We’ll take you through step by step.

Step One: Strip everything down

You’ll need:

The first thing to do is strip the RV down.

You’ll want to take out everything you can, right down to the wall and floor panels - and then remove those, too.

The idea is to expose the inside of the frame of your vehicle.This lets you inspect what insulation is currently installed and check what needs to be removed, replaced or added.

Step Two: Do a thorough deep clean

You’ll need:

Once you’ve stripped the RV down to it’s frame, it’s best to give it a thorough clean. Certain types of insulation are vulnerable to moisture and mold, so take this chance to minimise the risk of contamination.

Depending on the size, this can take a while. You’ll also need to make sure you give it enough time to dry properly before moving to the next step.

Step Three: Plan the electrics

You’ll need:

Before installing the insulation, plan out where the electrics and wires will go. Some types of insulation must not come into contact with or block wires.

Organising this now will ensure you don’t have to go back and change things later.

Mark out routes and access points through where the panels will be, and alter your insulation plans accordingly.

Step Four: Soundproofing the RV

You’ll need:

Soundproofing is an important, but often forgotten, step that can be done just before insulating.

Especially for older RVs and vehicles, this will help block some of the noise from outside disturbing you will you sleep. It’ll also stop noise you make from bleeding to anyone nearby.

There are different soundproofing options, but most will be installed to the metal frame of your vehicle before the insulation.

It can also go around the engine compartment to reduce noise from your motor!

Step Five: Installing the insulation

You’ll need:

Once the RV is stripped, cleaned and the soundproofing is in, you can finally start to install the insulation.

Depending on the type of insulation you choose to use, you’ll be packing fiberglass against the frame, or measuring, cutting and placing foam panels, or spraying foam in even levels.

There may be some areas that require a mix of insulation, especially those small, odd areas where foam panels take too much work to install.

You can fill these with fiberglass or spray foam, depending how big the areas are and whether you want a higher R-value or longer lasting insulation.

Step Six: Laying the floor panels

You’ll need:

Once the soundproofing and insulation are installed, you can attach the floor panels - or replace them with newer, more suitable pieces.

This is the base of your RV, so the floor has to be stable enough to handle the weight of people and the appliances and furniture in the vehicle.

Too much weight will also affect the RV’s performance, so keep this in mind. Sturdy floors are your foundation.

Step Seven: Attaching the walls and ceiling panels

You’ll need:

With the floor in place, it’s time to move onto the walls.

You want to cover every part of the RV, ensuring no insulation can be seen. This creates the shell that you’ll be living in on those road trips.

While measuring and cutting panels, refer back to the marks made earlier to allow wires and electrical points through. These holes can be filled in once the wiring is done.

Follow the same process for the ceiling.

Step Eight: Kit out your RV

You’ll need:

Once you’ve finished insulating and attaching the inner panels, you can start by kitting out your RV.

Start with the appliances and furniture you removed at the beginning, or their replacement parts. Think about what you need to live comfortably for your trip and start with those things.

Then you can see what space you have left and what other additions you can fit in. Remember, you’ll want to leave some space to move around, too.

You’re now ready to take your RV out on the road and make some amazing memories. Enjoy!