Sound deadening a van – part 3 of our camper conversion

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Welcome to part three of our camper van conversion diary and the one where we did something I’d never even considered – sound deadening a van!  If you’re the same and have never known it was something to do then read on.  This will be a short post today because as you’ll soon see, sound deadening is super simple!

If you’re looking to convert a van to camper van then I highly recommend this book by Vandogtraveller Mike Hudson – it covers loads of aspects from insulation to electrics – check it out here: From Van to Home (ebook)

Why do you need to sound deaden a camper van?

Firstly I thought it would be a good idea to say why you need to do this.  Many people skip this stage and I was also quite tempted to do the same as to be honest our van build is fairly cheap and cheerful, perhaps we didn’t need to spend £60 or so on something that I wasn’t sure would be that useful.

When you’re sound deadening a van what you’re attempting to do is reduce the panel vibrations of the van as you’re driving along.  If you knock on the panels when they’re exposed you’ll hear that there’s quite a lot of noise and it’s a bit echoey as the sound travels along the panel.  When you’re driving and you’ve got many, many panels all vibrating you can imagine that the noise is quite intense!

Sound deadening material is quite heavy and dense and it does the job by some weird physics and science stuff.  I think it dampens the sound waves and so stops as many vibrations.  What I do know is that if you tapped on a non treated panel and then tapped on one with the sound deadening there was a huge difference.

It should be noted that it isn’t sound proofing that you’re doing, you’re not stopping noises coming in, but sound deadening – reducing panel knocks and vibrations.

How we sound deadened our van

Ok, so that’s my bad explanation out of the way, here’s how we did it.

Sound deadening mat can come in pre cut squares ready to apply or sometimes you can get a roll of it.  Getting a roll is a much more cost effective way of sound deadening and you can custom cut the sizes how you want it.  We went with the Dodo Dead Mat as they were really well recommended and we managed to get next day delivery – my favourite thing when working on a van!!  The roll was 75cm wide and 4.66 metres long and was plenty for what we needed.  We even had some left over so maybe we were too frugal with it!  Ours was a medium wheel base van so perhaps if you weren’t so frugal with the usage and had a bigger van 2 rolls would be better.  We also bought the special tool which is a hard plastic roller which you use to stick the mat down with.  You don’t absolutely need this, but we found it made the job much easier and we weren’t worried about the mat coming off.

sound deadening a van
Sound deadening on the rear panels of the van

Once all the rust prevention stage was all dried we could add the sound mat.  We decided to add it to all the panels, the doors and the roof.  We didn’t sound proof the floor as we figured there wasn’t as much vibration and loose panels there – we had some left so we definitely could have done and still had enough left.  Oh and we went over the wheel arches as that’s definitely somewhere that gets a lot of noise!  It’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to cover the whole of the panels – I think it was something like cover 20% to get 80% of the benefit so if you bear that in mind you’ll keep weight and costs down.  The Dodo Dead Mat was really heavy too – much heavier than I anticipated so the weight is definitely something to keep in mind, especially if you’re worried about the weight of your overall build.

The mat was super easy to cut – we just used normal household scissors – and really easy to apply.  When you have your piece, make sure the area you’re applying to is nice and clean, take off the backing and stick to the surface.  Use the roller to make sure it’s stuck down nice and securely.  That’s it!  I told you it was easy!

sound deadening a campervan
Sound deadening on the roof of the van

Did it make a difference?

It definitely made a big difference when we drove the van and it was still pretty much a panel van inside.  Once you get the insulation and cladding on I guess it’s hard to tell whether it made a huge amount of difference as you can’t judge how it would have been if you hadn’t had it as it could be that the insulation and cladding added it’s own sound deadening.  As it is, our van is really quiet when we’re driving and we don’t hear any vibration noise from the panels any more so I think it was definitely worth the time and money and really wasn’t so expensive overall.

If you’re looking for the other posts in this series either click here for them all or see below:

Part 1 – Rust removal and preparation

Part 2 – fitting windows

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to explore the UK and Europe and has a particular penchant for historical sites.

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