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Old 07-02-2007, 11:18 PM   #1
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Insulation options and best practices

I've seen online everything from just leaving the existing interior walls and insulation intact, to stripping out the interior sheetmetal and insulation, and going back in with foil, foam, and panelling.

So, what's really best? Keeping whats there? Adding foam over what is there (interior panels and all) or stripping everything to the frame and exterior skin and starting from the ground up?

What about the floor insulation? I'm thinking 1" foam covered by 1/2" plywood and then laminate over that.

This will be in the South (NC) with trips all over, mostly southeast US, some cross-country travel.
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Old 07-03-2007, 11:11 AM   #2
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Another thing you see people doing is drilling some holes in the panels and squirting expanding foam up into the roof so that you don't have to actually remove the panels.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:07 PM   #3
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I used 2.5" of Fomular (Home Depot's styrofoam sheathing product) in the ceiling and 2" in the walls over the existing interior surfaces and covered with the new panelling. In the floor I used 1" of Fomular on top of existing floor and covered by 3/4" subfloor. I am still considering whether or not to use insulating ceramic paint on the exterior of the roof.

I did not use the foil/bubble insulation at all because those extreme R values are only achieved when used with the specified air space between it and other materials. Sandwich it in and it becomes virtually useless. It is very useful in an attic or warehouse, but not in a bus.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:39 PM   #4
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Two things I'd recommend...especially if you're going to be in sunny places:
1. Paint the exterior a light color
2. Utilize a layer foil-faced insuation facing outward...not necessarily for the R-value but so that the solar radiation is reflected outward

Your bus is a steel tube and will become an oven if allowed. Those two items have allowed us to live w/o air conditioning in the southwestern US.

That being said...the outside skin of your bus is steel...the ribs/structure are steel, and the inside skin of your bus is steel. Metal is a very efficient conductor of heat...which goes both ways (brings heat in....and lets heat out/cold in (so to speak)). So the existing insulation isn't very effective, IMO, so anything that can be done is an improvement over what's there.

Good luck
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:42 PM   #5
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I learned in a hurry that the insulation in the floor is just as important in the summer as in the winter. Actually, I have yet to use my bus in the winter to be perfectly honest. In the summer the floor insulation keeps out the heat from the drivetrain and exhaust while quieting everything down. My floor has 1x2 (nominal) furring strips with 3/4 inch rigid foam insulation. On top of that is the vapor barrier (Which works! You should see the condensation that drains from that bus sometimes. ) covered with plywood of some oddball thickness (got a deal). In the front is industrial carpet while the rear had a thicker pile which has since been removed. I too am going the laminate route next time I get down to the Ikea in the Twin Cities.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:33 PM   #6
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

My first bus had 3/4 OSB over steel floor with closed loop (office type) carpet glued down. It was cold in the winter, but seemed fine in the summer. It did feel really solid. The new bus is getting rigid foam (thickness will depend on ceiling height, I don't have the bus home yet) covered by 3/4 OSB. The first setup worked fine, but I'm going all out on this one.
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Old 01-01-2008, 11:28 PM   #7
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I've been thinking about this topic lately.

Has anyone here actually injected spray foam into the ceiling of their skoolie as an alternative to taking the ceiling down to insulate? I am wondering if that would really work very well since the interior metal would still be in communication with the exterior skin.
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Old 01-02-2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentarthurdent
I've been thinking about this topic lately.

Has anyone here actually injected spray foam into the ceiling of their skoolie as an alternative to taking the ceiling down to insulate? I am wondering if that would really work very well since the interior metal would still be in communication with the exterior skin.
I remember reading an article about one guy putting rigid foam insulation on the outside of the roof. He then covered it with sheets of thin metal over it. He used it on an old GMC transit bus, which he converted.

The beauty of his system was very little conduction of heat through the metal, no sacrificing of head room, and it was cheap.

I've been trying to find the article, but I can't remember where it was at. I'll keep on trying.

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Old 01-02-2008, 02:38 PM   #9
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Guys, I was just thinking I wonder if covering the insulation with rubber, instead of metal, be a better option?

Fasten the insulation to the roof, cover it with that heavy rubber used on RVs or homes, and coated with Plas-T-Coat stuff.

I'm looking for any input.

Robert
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Old 01-02-2008, 03:59 PM   #10
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

For my floor, I laid down the 3/4" thick sheets of pink foam board insulation. I used 1x2 firring strips around the edges and through the middle as well. The 1x2's are actually 3/4" thick. Then, I laid some 7/16" thick sub flooring sheets down on top of that. It's a nice, solid feeling floor. The whole thing cost me about $150. The insulation is the main expense. The 4x8 sheets were almost $10 each. I needed 7 of them. Then, the sub flooring sheets were about $6 each. Again, I needed 7 of them. Then the firring strips were $1 each and I used about 25 of them. Then there was the nightmare with finding the right screws! Just use some TEK screws. It's the best way.
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Old 01-02-2008, 08:28 PM   #11
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Roastings8, I would think you would still want a thin sheathing over the insulation 1/4 or 3/8 to add some structural integrity, but I guess if you are not going to be walking up on top, the foam would do.

For insulation I lucked out. Next door neighbor is building a new house and wanted to use the spray foam in his attic. We went in together and bought a pallet of the stuff. 10 units to a pallet. He gets 9 and I get 1, but now I can spray my whole bus for about $450 and have good insulation and knock out any rattles and squeaks.

Dentarthurdent, I don't think injecting foam into the ceiling would be too effective because you already have fiberglass in there which I think would keep the foam from really being able to expand like it should or could.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:16 PM   #12
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I guess I need to open the ceiling and see what's in there. It sure sounds empty. Since my bus is from CA I thought perhaps it was not insulated at all. The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to take the ceiling down anyway.

I'd like to come up with a way to break the metal-to-metal contact with the outside without using up 4" of space. But I'd like to have a solid surface to glue a beadboard ceiling to so I may have to make it relatively thick. I am planning to raise the roof already - maybe toss in a couple more inches for insulation, etc.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:40 PM   #13
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

You can see what's up there by pulling out a light fixture or speaker.
Most seem to have a couple inches of fiberglass.
As you say tho', there's the problem of the roof and ceiling being connected by the rib.
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Old 01-02-2008, 10:59 PM   #14
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I haven't done anything as far as adding insulation to my bus. I don't see it as being worth the time or money unless you're living in it full time in extreme weather. I could be wrong, I'm gunna try and test this theory out.

I'm trying to plan a weekend camping trip with my bus in a few weeks (if we can get a babysitter and enough people go to justify taking the bus) I'm gunna put my 30K BTU ventess heater to the test in my uninsulated bus . From freezing cold it's heats up comfortably within 10 min or so. I'm sure I'll use more propane vs. if I had insulated the bus better. It's been cold here avg. in the 20's and 30's... it's 12 out right now.

For the handful of times I camp in extreme weather, I think I'll be ok without added insulation. Only one way to find out! I'll let you guys know how well I keep warm.
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:59 PM   #15
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

I'm mostly concerned about being able to keep it cool in the hot Oklahoma and Texas Summers - I can't sleep if I'm hot. Although it would be nice to make the propane last longer in Winter. I guess I'm saying that I'd like to have it insulated pretty well.
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:21 AM   #16
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentarthurdent
I guess I need to open the ceiling and see what's in there. It sure sounds empty. Since my bus is from CA I thought perhaps it was not insulated at all. The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to take the ceiling down anyway.

I'd like to come up with a way to break the metal-to-metal contact with the outside without using up 4" of space. But I'd like to have a solid surface to glue a beadboard ceiling to so I may have to make it relatively thick. I am planning to raise the roof already - maybe toss in a couple more inches for insulation, etc.
Pulling the ceiling panels is a pain in the butt, but not really too difficult. To break the metal to metal I ripped some 2x lumber stock to 1/2" thick and then laminated (screwed) 3 layers of these thicknesses to the underside of the ribs. That now gives me about 3.5" of attic space and still 88+" of head room after an 18" raise. All that said, I am going to follow the existing curve in the ceiling and transition to the walls because I like the aesthetics of the curves.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:05 AM   #17
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by reprobate
Roastings8, I would think you would still want a thin sheathing over the insulation 1/4 or 3/8 to add some structural integrity, but I guess if you are not going to be walking up on top, the foam would do.

For insulation I lucked out. Next door neighbor is building a new house and wanted to use the spray foam in his attic. We went in together and bought a pallet of the stuff. 10 units to a pallet. He gets 9 and I get 1, but now I can spray my whole bus for about $450 and have good insulation and knock out any rattles and squeaks.

Dentarthurdent, I don't think injecting foam into the ceiling would be too effective because you already have fiberglass in there which I think would keep the foam from really being able to expand like it should or could.
Hi Reprobate, You're right about a thin sheathing over the insulation, but using metal would probably defeat the idea. Probably, if you put the sheathing under the rubber membrane (woo hoo, I remembered how the rubber lining is called) you might be on to something. I would still try to avoid metal, mainly because it would conduct heat easily.

The beauty about exterior insulation is you can add it at any time during the conversion. All that would be required is some paint to match up the roof with the rest of the bus.

Also, congratulations on your insulation score. I wish I could hit up on something like that.


BTW, how is your conversion coming along? If you're still working at the speed that you were, you should be just about done.

Robert
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:10 PM   #18
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Jimmyaustintx,

Search spray foam on the net. It's pretty much $1 a bd.ft. 1'x1'x1" thick. When I called a commercial outfit about it, they said anything over an inch thick is wasting your money. I bought the 605 bd ft set-up for $450 (free shipping) regularly $640 plus shipping. Will be delivered tomorrow, so hope to be spraying in a couple of days.

Yeah Roastings, I need to take some more pics. The wiring is done, measured for cabinets today, and as soon as I spray the insul. I'll be ready to start the interior panel work and window trim.
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Old 01-04-2008, 02:07 PM   #19
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Hi Reprobate,

Where do you call home? It looks like you're either from AZ or NM. I lived in Phoenix before and I recognize the landscape.

Robert

Oops, I should read the other threads before writing. Ignore the sentence above.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:18 PM   #20
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Re: Insulation options and best practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentarthurdent
I'm mostly concerned about being able to keep it cool in the hot Oklahoma and Texas Summers - I can't sleep if I'm hot. Although it would be nice to make the propane last longer in Winter. I guess I'm saying that I'd like to have it insulated pretty well.
I really wouldn't worry about it. That's WAY too much trouble in my opinion. My bus is black on the outside! It doesn't get any warmer on the inside than it did when it was white on top. Even in the Oklahoma summer we had this year, it would be warm in there, but not as hot as my truck gets. The ceiling inside the bus was barely warm to the touch. On the outside, it's so hot you can't touch it. I don't think insulation in the roof is going to help you out very much. It also seems to hold the heat in well enough too. It's certainly nothing an RV furnace won't be able to keep up with in the winter. A 13,500 BTU A/C will be able to keep up with my bus even on the hottest day Oklahoma can dish out. I really wouldn't mess with insulating your ceiling if I were you.
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