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Discussion Starter #1
i'm planning on following Gary's (buildagreenRV) floor insulation approach, namely foam polyiso boards with plywood on top. The van that I have (3500 Ext) came with the wood floor option. It's not something I wanted but now I have to choose between adding insulation and floor covering over top of the wood floor or ripping it out and starting fresh from the bare metal. My concern is that I want the greatest R value AND the most headroom. The wood floor is about 5/8" so I only have room for about 3/4" polyiso foam board, 1/4" plywood and then my finished flooring (as yet TBD). I'm 6'2"+ so my total flooring solution can't be more than 2".

Has anyone ripped out the floor? Am I crazy to consider it? My ideal solution would be 1 1/2" foam, 1/4" ply, and then finished floor material.

Any thoughts would be appreciated on this.

Thanks
Shaun
 

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For me ceiling insulation trumps floor insulation.
Not as tall being 6 even, we elected to use BedRug + KK-Plus for
the total floor install.
Spent the day insulating (ac/solar/fan are in!)
That pink insulation from Promaster accessories I thought to be lame at best looking at it
on-line and reading reviews but now having worked with it for several hours I can see merit.
The Thinsulate on top of it is the wall insulation.
Now I have to decide whether to build out from the ac and van frames the installer built to accommodate
more ceiling insulation or go with the same system in the walls. Hard decision.
80 percent of that pink + Thinsulate is done....tomorrow we go fishing--fishing Thinsulate through
all the ribs.
 

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Good question. My van also came with the wood floor and I am wondering how to proceed. How much does insulating the floor help?
I read on another thread that the wood floor is glued down with alot of silicone adhesive, and took alot of work to remove.
I am considering just laying a stiff rubber pad atop the wood floor and calling it good. Removing the wood floor to put down insulation and then replacing the wood floor is a long process.
If it isnt worthwhile, then why bother?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm going to go with Polyiso on top of the factory wood floor, 1/4" ply on top, finished floor on top of that. Plan is to use great stuff to adhere first two layers, finished floor will float. In areas that I wont use the cargo hooks, I will extend the cargo bolts to hold down the floor further. For those cargo bolts in the rear I will probably drill a hole through the polyiso and plywood to allow them to be used to secure cargo if needed.
 

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Hi,
Sorry I did not see this earlier, but I think you went the right way.

The R value of the floor the way I did it with 1 inch polyiso, 1/4 inch plywood, and vinyl floor is about R7.5.

If you go down to the 5/8 ths wood plus Vinyl with no added insulation the R value would be down to R2.2.

For our van insulation levels, and assuuming 32F outside temp, this would increase the heat loss for the whole van from 2410 BTU/hr to 3163 BTU/hr -- about a 30 % increase. Quite a bit.

If you left the 5/8 ths floor in and added 3/4 inch polyiso plus 1/4 plywood plus vinyl, the R value would be about R6.7 -- so, not much reduction from the R7.5 the way I did it.
The heat loss at 32F outside would go from 2410 to 2450 BTU/hr -- only a 2% increase in heat loss. You could even use half inch polyiso instead of 3/4 if every inch counts -- This would give you R 5.2 and increase heat loss at 32F from 2410 to 2550 BTU/hr, or 6% increase.
I guess the main message is that you probably want to get some insulation in the floor stackup, but it does not have to be the full 1 inch thick to do a pretty good job.

I guess if it were me, I'd have a hard time ripping out that nice factory wood floor to gain only a few percent on heat loss?

This page has a link to my van heat loss spreadsheet -- you can download it and play around with different combinations: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/heat-loss-calculator-for-camper-van-conversions/

Gary
 

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Removing the factory floor is not that difficult. Its adhered to the sheet metal with random blobs of adhesive. Starting in one corner I was able to lift it off in one complete piece with a bit of prying and levering. The real effort is moving the giant, awkward in and out of the van. In 6 hours time me, myself and I removed the floor, cut/fit and glued down (see: foamed) 1/2" polyiso. After letting the foam set overnight I reinstalled the factory floor and secured it in place using the existing cargo tie-downs, albeit after purchasing longer bolts to deal with added height. Since then I've covered the factory slipperiness with a rubber, garage floor sheet good to make the bird dog happy. I say do it, but I like a good challenge.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Removing the factory floor is not that difficult. Its adhered to the sheet metal with random blobs of adhesive. Starting in one corner I was able to lift it off in one complete piece with a bit of prying and levering. The real effort is moving the giant, awkward in and out of the van. In 6 hours time me, myself and I removed the floor, cut/fit and glued down (see: foamed) 1/2" polyiso. After letting the foam set overnight I reinstalled the factory floor and secured it in place using the existing cargo tie-downs, albeit after purchasing longer bolts to deal with added height. Since then I've covered the factory slipperiness with a rubber, garage floor sheet good to make the bird dog happy. I say do it, but I like a good challenge.
Wow, now you given me something to think about. I never thought of reusing the floor after removal. One benefit is that the factory floor could be used as a template for other components of the flooring build. I may just consider this.

Gary, thanks for the detailed explanation, I believe your build site is one of the most valuable resources on the net. I consult it almost daily, and I'm planning my solar build based on what you've done.
 

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Wow, now you given me something to think about. I never thought of reusing the floor after removal. One benefit is that the factory floor could be used as a template for other components of the flooring build. I may just consider this.

Gary, thanks for the detailed explanation, I believe your build site is one of the most valuable resources on the net. I consult it almost daily, and I'm planning my solar build based on what you've done.
The template has proved handy. But not as much as not adding another project to the list.
 

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I have 1/2" plywood in mine, right on top of the bare metal. And it's fine. I could write a book about keeping warm in the winter, but generally speaking I use....almost nothing. The van is warm when I park, and I sleep on a cot with a $30 Walmart mummy bag. Toasty warm, no problem. Sleep like a baby, in fact.

The only real problem is when you get up, crawl out of the mummy bag, and you're in a freezing van. Two options: install a remote start so you can start the van while you're still in the bag. 10 min later, it's toasty. I don't like to idle, so I bought the Big Buddy propane heater. Reach over, fire it up, 10 minutes later it's more than warm enough to get up. I keep my boots near it so I they are warmed too! Nice. The Big Buddy (as opposed to the Lil' Buddy) runs two propane cylinders so it'll run 3 hours at full blast. Instead of buying them constantly, I refill them at home. Looks like I'll make it the whole winter on $16 of propane.

But the walls and ceiling are where the biggest gains are as far as insulation. For the amount of hassle you'll have putting multiple layers of whatever on the floor...just get a pair of slippers.
 

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Down slippers (booties)! Yes :)
Well Poof (the better-half) showed me what she got done yesterday...she'd added more insulation to the walls. She asked me what I thought, I just pointed up to the ceiling ;)
We're probably way too serious about insulation but I have a cabin up in the woods. I'd skinned the cabin with 6 inches off foamboard, that much in the ceiling with an R-30 bat
of fiberglass on top. It goes back to a year in the 80s when we hit -15 here in town and -30F at the cabin. I've been warped ever since.

That said the PM, insulation, and standing height ---as so well pointed out by MsNomer--is a compromise.
To get that extra layer of Thinsulate in the celing means I'll loosing 2 more inches of head room and that means under the air-con I'll have to bend my neck if standing directly under it.
I think I'll live.
 

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Mother had frost-bitten feet from cold floors during the Depression, and her feet remained extra sensitive. One day, a traveling salesman came out selling blown-in insulation. After his spiel, Mother said, "I don't care about the ceiling and walls. I want a warm floor." The salesman said, "Let us insulate the ceiling and walls. If your feet are still cold, I'll refund your money." Mother never suffered again and the man kept his money. I learned a big lesson from that. Heat rises.
 

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Hi,
My 2 cents on why its just as important to insulate the floor as the ceiling.

Heat is just as happy to go downward as upward as sideways -- It goes in the direction of warm temps to cold temps, and the rate of heat flow depends only on the temp difference across the wall, ceiling or floor.

The only way you lose more heat through the ceiling is that warm air tends to rise toward the ceiling, so the temperature difference from inside to outside is a bit greater for the ceiling than the floor, but this difference is typically small. Heat transfer does not know anything about up, down or sideways -- it only cares about temperature difference.

So, I think, its just as important to insulate the floor as the ceiling.

On my van, if you assume 70F inside and 32F outside, the calculated heat loss with the floor, walls and ceiling insulated with 1 inch polyiso, and windows insulated to R3 is 2410 BTU per hour. If I take the floor insulating out and leave just the plywood and vinyl floor the R value goes from R7.6 down to R1.6, and the heat loss for the whole van goes up from 2410 to 3560 BTU per hour -- 48a% increase in the total heat loss from the van. The message is don't leave any large areas of the van uninsulated no matter which way they point -- these low R value areas will end up dominating the heat loss. Its the same logic that says you want some sort of insulation on the windows.

Each sqft of uninsulated floor losses 5 times as much heat as a sqft of insulated ceiling.

If you are worried about not limiting standing room in the van, and you can only afford to add (say) 2 inches of insulation total between floor and ceiling, you are much better off to distribute the insulation between floor and ceiling rather than putting it all on the ceiling.

You can play around with different insulation levels using this calculator: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/heat-loss-calculator-for-camper-van-conversions/

"What makes heat rise" physics link: http://sciencequestionswithsurprisinganswers.org/2014/07/10/what-makes-heat-rise/

Gary
 

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GaryBIS,
As usual you post is with facts and data. I really appreciate this. I did the 1” polyiso generally but 1/2 inch under the 1/2” of plywood on the floor, a compromise but it has been good down to 19º and even at 5’8” I kept nearly all the headroom by using the space between the roof ribs for insulation which is just the same thickness as the 1” polyiso! It is like the ceilings were made to insulate that way. Then just headliner with glue, strips to cover the ribs for looks and Voila you are done! Total head to floor loss 1 1/2”.
 

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GaryBIS,
As usual you post is with facts and data. I really appreciate this. I did the 1” polyiso generally but 1/2 inch under the 1/2” of plywood on the floor, a compromise but it has been good down to 19º and even at 5’8” I kept nearly all the headroom by using the space between the roof ribs for insulation which is just the same thickness as the 1” polyiso! It is like the ceilings were made to insulate that way. Then just headliner with glue, strips to cover the ribs for looks and Voila you are done! Total head to floor loss 1 1/2”.
Hi RD,
I think that's a good way to go because you got enough insulation in the floor path to not make it stick out like a sore thumb on the heat loss. The half inch polyiso in the floor about tripled the floor R value :)

Gary
 

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Something I've learned over the years of being in the outback living out of a pack.
IF my feet get cold them I'm cold, no matter how warm the rest of me is.
Prevent cold feet, prevent feet from ever getting cold.
The warmest homes I've ever been in had in-floor tubing circulating warm-hot water.

I've backpacked over 4000 miles in the last 30 years. Protect the core. Arms/legs can feel cold but that's not an issue
if my core (heart/kidneys/lungs) is protected....so any trip away from the car I have a vest just for the core. Lately I've been
sporting a hooded vest.

What does this have to do with the PM? Probably not much :)
 

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Has she anyone considered the massive areas between the frame underneath as a place to insulate vs inside the van? It seems like besides the exhaust, muffler and spare tire there is a lot of room for possibilities (I've been debating placing spray foam or poly-ISO with an frp/plastic splash shield underneath)
 

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Unless you live in the Arctic, save your money and just put foam backed sheet goods or carpet down. Taking up an existing factory floor to put insulation down is nuts. If you don't have a factory floor go for it but otherwise find something better to spend your time and money on. ;)

Of course, other will disagree.
 

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Has she anyone considered the massive areas between the frame underneath as a place to insulate vs inside the van? It seems like besides the exhaust, muffler and spare tire there is a lot of room for possibilities (I've been debating placing spray foam or poly-ISO with an frp/plastic splash shield underneath)
rhino,

A while back, forum member uNik insulated the whole underneath. Quite a project. We haven't seen him around here in a while but here's a link to the YouTube video he did at the time:


ed

ps. anybody hear from uNik recently? Tell him we miss him!
 
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