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Van Conversion

The ultimate guide to van sound deadening

You’re probably here because you want to make your van or tiny home quieter. As pure-bred commercial vehicles the exposed sheet metal in vans are anything but quiet. Road noise quite can be quite horrible due to lots of ability to vibrate, resonate and rattle which can make it feel like you’re on the inside of a tin can. Thankfully it’s an easy fix, it made a huge difference to us when we installed in our van conversion, you can check out the difference in the video.

It’s not only stopping noise coming in, sound deadening also helps reduce noise generated from inside the van escaping, so if you’re stealth camping or anything in between you can be sure that outside noise will be at a minimum.

Best van sound deadening materials

FatMat RT50 Rattletrap Sound Deadener

We used this product in both of our vans and can vouch for it’s dense, super sticky properties. We put this underneath our PIR and eco wool insulation and it did an excellent job at cutting road noise & unwanted rattles.

This product comes in a 50sqft roll which is enough to do a long wheelbase sprinter.

Pros

  • One roll should cover most vans
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Sharp foil covering
  • If you live in a really hot climate there can be some residual smells after install

Noico SNL1 Car Sound Deadening Mat

A very good alternative to the rattletrap for the budget conscious. Featuring the similar butyl compounds the Noico SNL has a weight of 3.7 kg / sqm & comes in folded sheets that in total cover 36sqft. It has recently been upgraded to 2mm thickness so you now get the same thickness as rattletrap. (Thicker generally going to be more effective at damping the sound waves in the metal and therefore less noise)

If you have a large van you might need to order two packs as 50sqft was perfect for our LWB sprinter.

A slight difference is that instead of a foil only backing Noico has a built in install indicator with some square bubbles that should be flat if installed correctly.

Pros

  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy to install
  • Install indicator built into the product

Cons

  • Does come in different thickness so be careful to get the 80mil (2mm) thickness for best results

Dynamat 10455 Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener

The premium market choice Dynamat xtreme is a renowned sound deadening manufacturer. Dynamat comes in pre cut sheets & is slightly thinner than Noico and Rattletrap (0.17mm) which could be less effective at large van panels which will vibrate more than the typical car panel this product was designed for.

Pros

  • Renowned brand used for a long time

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • With small pre cut sizes you may need to double up on large van panels

Kilmat ‎KLM8036 Car Sound Deadening Mat

van sound deadening kilmat

Kilmat used to be a thinner product and was often looked down upon because while cheaper you got a thinner product which meant less sound deadening materials and therefore more noise inside. However that’s changed and Kilmat has upped it’s thickness to 80mil (2mm) but it’s density is still behind that of Noico at 2.35kg / sqm

It comes in 34 sheets sheets and covers 36sqft so just over 1sqft per sheet

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Less dense than competitor
  • Small sheets make doing large panels less optimal by having to double up

How do you install sound deadening material?

All sound deadening materials need to be installed before anything else directly onto the metal walls. If you’re reading this and already have insulation and cladding up then….sorry?

The most popular products offer a peel and stick method of application to a clean metal panel.

Step 1) Preparation

You need to prepare the sound deadening material itself by making sure it’s been at the correct ambient temperature. If it’s too cold then it’s going to be harder to work with and likely have a less effective bond. Check the recommended install temperature from your manufacturer.

The van itself needs to be really clean. For the sake of simplicity we recommend installing right at the beginning of your van conversion. We used and recommend two product types, a degreaser which cuts through and remove all the heavy substances (if you’ve got a brand new van you might not need this) followed by an isopropyl alcohol which acts as a solvent to remove and impurities.

Step 2) Size & Cut

A pretty universal rule is 30% of the area of the panel should be covered with the material, measure up your panels and cut all your pieces with a box cutter. Be careful the foil backing can cause the mother of all papercuts, we quickly put on our basic protective gloves so

Step 3) Peel and stick

Remove the plastic backing and firmly press starting on one side all the way across to the other onto the metal. This will maximise contact to the sheet and ensure it bonds well.

Step 4) Roll flat

The final step is to take a roller, a lot of companies do give you one if you order over a certain amount of material and press all parts of the material against the van metal. Using a roller is recommended as the foil edges are razor sharp and using your hands won’t get the same contact as a roller.

How much material do I need?

To effectively sound deaden you need to cover 25-30% of an exposed panel. You do not need to cover the entire panel. This won’t actually improve the effectiveness, it will cost you 300% more to do so and it’ll reduce the available cargo capacity of your campervan. Whether you opt for, dynamat, fatmat, dodomat as they are all dense heavy solutions you’ll be adding a lot of weight to your vehicle you could use for more gear!

Where you apply matters in general we recommend applications to;

  • Walls
  • Wheel wells
  • Above driving cab
  • Ceiling
  • Floor
  • Rear and side doors

FAQs

Can sound deadener insulation work?

Intrinsically insulation which has a low R value and is in direct contact with the van metal isn’t going to be a good insulator. We cover a lot of the mechanics on insulation in our van insulation post. However there is something to consider and that is that some insulation types you can bond to the skin of the van and turn the thicker PIR insulation boards or closed cell spray foam to act as a sound deadener.

When planning your van build you should plan which type of insulation you’re going to use. If you’re using rigid foam boards, PIR, closed cell foam all of which can be bonded directly onto the sheet metal sound deadening might not be as necessary. If you’re using demin, wool, thinsulate material then sound proofing will be more important.

What sound deadening is best for hot climates

All of the popular sound deadening material we covered in our best list are based on butyl compounds. While this will vary between brands some chemical make ups might be more stable in intense heat.

What is the difference between Fatmat & Dynamat?

Fatmat and Dynamat are two companies that produce sound dampening material. The main differences are the format of the offered product with Fatmat giving you rolls where Dynamat comes in sheets and of course price is a little different with Dynamat being more expensive.

What is mass loaded vinyl?

Mass loaded vinyl is a dense PVC compound which has a high density. Less popular for van sound dampening materials because it does not have a self adhesive and therefore application will take a lot more time.

Can camper van insulation also sound proof?

Yes some types of insulation (solids bonded to the van walls) can act as a sound proofing and will typically be better at reducing quieter noises e.g. wind noise than stones pinging the wheel wells.

Is Mass loaded vinyl and butyl sound deadener mat the same?

No they are not the same, they are made from different compounds and butyl sound deadener mats will have peel and stick application methods where mass loaded vinyl does not have adhesive by default.

Van sound deadening example

Listen carefully to the sound in this video where I hit the walls of the van with and without rattletrap. I think the results speak for themselves!

Tools used to install sound deadening

Roller

Protective gloves

Cutting knife

By Will Cecil

I am an avid outdoors-man and adventure addict. I love travelling, I'm currently confined to being a weekend warrior and along with Emily seek breathtaking vistas and new experiences.

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