There is one small detail that can make your road life unbearable: noise. A rattling van that offers no protection from road/outdoor noise can make a pleasant road trip quickly become an ordeal. According to the Roaming Home 2023 study, 82% of camper conversions have van sound deadening installed. Before insulating our van, we should first install some van sound proofing panels.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan, writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
Now let's jump in and have a look at van sound deadening!
Note: Did you know that you can get a free electrical wiring diagram by signing up to The Van Conversion Newsletter
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc.) we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. By using these links, you are helping me to continue writing free educational content!
What brings about rattling in a van?
A noisy campervan rattles with every movement on the road. It reverberates with the unevenness of the road and receives all the engine and outside/neighbourhood noise, giving you a bad travel experience. It will make you (and even moreso, the children) cranky and irritable, thereby making your whole road experience unbearable.
A noisy or rattling campervan results from the shaking or vibration of the thin steel body of your car when it's moving on the road. These thin sheets vibrate and resonate with any movement of the car on the road. And this makes the panels produce a rattling noise.
This problem is more prevalent in older vehicles that are travelling on bumpy roads. The higher vibrations, the more your campervan becomes noisy.
The thin body of the car also offers little or no resistance/insulation to external noise. So, if you are in a noisy place or in the wild at night, any animal or party noise will infiltrate your campervan, making it loud.
To prevent the occurrence of a rattling and noisy ride, van sound deadening is essential.
Van sound proofing is easier than you think. It will help you travel in comfort and keep the outside noise out. Soundproofing your van will help you rest in peace, travel in silence, help you focus, and will improve the effectiveness of your internal sound system.
Where to put van sound proofing
The roof is the recipient of all-weather elements. It receives the brunt of rain, hailstones, and strong wind. When these elements land on the roof of your campervan, they produce an irritating sound that makes it hard for you to sleep and drowns out your conversation or stations you are watching or listening to. I recommend van sound deadening your ceiling
Campervans have thin steel walls. This makes it easy for any noise or external sound to enter the interior of your car. These walls also produce rattling sounds when on the road. Adding van sound proofing to these walls is the best way to do away with the noise.
Car doors (driver, passenger, back, and side doors) produce a lot of road sound, especially if they are not shut well or if there are cracks between the doors and vans and around the window. It is essential to add van sound deadening to the campervan doors.
The wheel arches are perhaps the noisiest part of the van as they are right above the wheels. Installing campervan sound deadening on the wheel arches is a must.
What is the best van sound deadening?
The van sound deadening you choose should be thin and lightweight. They shouldn't take up too much space and add weight to your campervan. Though there are many options for campervan sound deadening, butyl mats are most effective. In particular, a brand called Dodo Dead Mat (ebay) is excellent. This is the sound deadening material that I use and is probably the most popular van sound proofing choice for van conversions.
With that being said, let's check out all of our options for camper van sound deadening material...
Butyl matts are self-adhesive, foil-backed sound deadening vibration dampers. They reduce unwanted vibrations and structural noise.
The butyl sheet is made of butyl rubber, which makes it great at absorbing vibrations and sound waves when driving.
Dodo dead mat is one of the more popular butyl mat for vehicles. Other popular brands of sound deadening mats are Noico and Dynamat.
dead-sound.co.uk have kindly offered readers of TheVanConversion.com 10% off their sound deadening / insulation purchase. Simply use the code THEVC10 at checkout.
Pastes / paints
This type of sound deadening is painted onto the van. Silent Running SR-500 is the most well known brand. It forms a thin, lightweight viscoelastic layer that effectively deadens sound in a campervan. You can apply it directly on metal (steel surfaces like doors and walls).
Mass loaded vinyl
It is an excellent sound barrier for vibration, sound dampening, and heat. Mass-loaded vinyl also improves the inside acoustics of the van. However it is certainly thicker than the previous options.
Many types of insulation are naturally excellent sound deadeners! Insulation is given a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). This number measures the insulation’s ability to absorb sound on a scale from 0.0-1.0.
Mineral wool is one of the best soundproof insulations with a NRC between 0.95-1.00
Fibreglass has an NRC of 0.90-0.95
Cellulose has an NRC of 0.80
Spray foam has an NRC of 0.70
Yes. Sealants play a big role in van soundproofing. Use sealants to block cracks and any spaces around doors and windows, and panels. This will block sound from entering through the cracks.
Things to consider when choosing van sound deadening
Effectiveness of the mat in blocking or absorbing sound and vibrations
Ease of installation of the material
Material's sound-enhancing qualities on the inside of the campervan
Procedure for soundproofing your campervan
Strip your van of any panelling that might cover the metallic surface.
Clean the steel sheets with an alcohol solution.
Peel off the outer covering on the butyl mat sheets (assuming you’re using those).
Stick it to the interior steel panels of your campervan.
Use it to cover as many metal sheets as possible.
Around the wheel arches and on the doors is particularly important.
How much sound deadening do I need in a van?
If you are using a butyl mat like Dodo Dead Mat (ebay), one roll / pack should do for a standard panel van.
I hope you found this guide to installing a sound deadening in your van conversion useful! You now know the best way to soundproof your campervan. A well-soundproofed campervan shouldn't block out all external sound. It should leave room for you to hear important sounds like that of cars approaching, braking, and so on. That aside, it will help you enjoy your travels in peace.
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,