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Noico 80 Mil Sound Deadening Installation

Sound deadening on wheel well

If you’ve ever ridden in a cargo van, you know just how loud these metal boxes can be. Road noise can be unbearable on long trips as you hear nearly everything along the way. Even the smallest bump can echo throughout the van as the metal panels vibrate.

These vans are built for work so having a quiet and comfortable ride is something that isn’t considered in their design. If you want these luxuries, you have to build it in yourself.

This is why I decided to install a sound deadening material throughout the cargo area of the van before doing anything else. I wanted to try and create as quiet of an environment inside the van as possible.

There are numerous options when considering sound deadening for a vehicle and some of the options on my list are listed below.

BrandThicknessGood & Bad
Noico80 mil (0.08 inches)Low Cost, installation indicator, low odor, pre-cut sections
KilMat80 mil (0.08 inches)Most affordable, installation indicator, pre-cut sections
FatMat80 mil (0.08 inches)More Expensive, comes on a roll, requires cutting
Dynamat67 mil (0.067 inches)Most Expensive, low odor, thinner than other options

I chose the Noico 80 mil sound deadening mat for this project. Out of the four that were on my list, I felt like this one would be the best for my needs. I liked how it looked and it was among the cheapest option available.

It also has good reviews from others who have used it in van builds so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Sound deadening mat absorbs the vibrations that would normally travel throughout the thin sheet metal that makes up the cargo van. By adding mass to the sheet metal, you will likely hear more of a thud as you hit a bump rather than a vibration of the sheet metal.

At least this is what I hope will happen.

I’ve seen many people mistakenly call this soundproofing. This is in no way soundproofing. It is simply a way to minimize the vibrations in the large areas of sheet metal.

However, this is a good first step if you are looking to soundproof your van. I aim to use various products that will all work together to keep unwanted noises to a minimum.

I purchased this material for use in my camper van and I would like to share my review of the material and the process of installing it.

First Impressions

I ordered two of the 36 Sq ft boxes of this and when it arrived on my doorstep, I was surprised at how heavy each box was. I didn’t weigh it but the product description says it is 28 pounds for one box so I had nearly 60 pounds of sound deadener material sitting on my front porch.

First impressions were great. It seemed to be very high quality and was in sheets that were easy to work with. Each box has nine sheets of the material in it and the diamond patterns on it make it easy to cut and stay in a straight line.

Installing the sound deadening in my camper van

Tools needed for the job

Of course, you’ll need the Noico sound deadener material itself. I purchased mine here.

You’ll also need…

  • Roller – used to roll it onto the metal so that it will be most effective
  • Sharp scissors – it’s easy to cut with scissors but they will get messy from the tar-like material
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Good gloves – this stuff has sharp corners and can cut you if you aren’t careful. It also can leave a sticky residue on your hands so it’s best to wear gloves.
  • Degreaser – I used Krud Kutter in an aerosol can. It’s easy to spray on and wipe back off leaving the surface squeaky clean.

The first place I wanted to make sure to install this was on the wheel wells. This is one of the noisiest and most vibrating areas in the van so I thought it would be the most effective here.

It was also a good test to see how good it would actually work.

I installed it on one wheel well first and then banged on it for a test. There was a noticeable difference between the one with sound deadening and the one without.

Sound deadening on wheel well

After the wheel wells were completed, I continued installing it on the sides and the ceiling and floor. I wasn’t concerned with covering every square inch. I just wanted to get a large percentage of each area covered.

Here is the method I used to install the material.

  1. Plan out exactly where I wanted to put it. You don’t need to install it all over the place, only in areas that you deem likely to vibrate the most.
  2. Once I had my plan, the next step was to measure and cut the material to size. I did this in small squares so that each square would be easier to work with.
  3. Before placing the squares onto the metal, I cleaned the metal of the van with a degreaser and then dried it off. This will help to ensure the material will stick. I used KrudKutter and it worked great.
  4. Once the squares were cut and the surface was cleaned, I stuck them into place. I typically worked within a small area of the van placing the small squares in that area.
  5. After I had all the squares stuck on, I went back and rolled them on tightly with the roller. This is a very important step because you can tell a difference after doing this. It gives it a little more sound reduction from being rolled on tightly.

That’s it! It was a simple process but it was a LOT of work. It was difficult rolling it on because you have to push fairly hard to get it flattened out.

However, the product makes it easy to know when it is properly seated. The diamond patterns on the material will flatten out and it’s easy to tell the areas that are done from the areas that still need work.

Sound deadening on side wall

Results

After going through both boxes of the material, I did notice a difference throughout the whole van although it wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be.

You can tell that if you bang on the side walls or the floor, it does create more of a quick thud instead of the longer-lasting vibrating sound from before.

However, if I had it to do over, I would probably buy less of it and concentrate it on the noisier areas like the wheel wells, side panels, and floor. I probably wouldn’t touch the ceiling with it because I barely notice a difference there.

Installation tip:

Be sure and order a good roller when you purchase this stuff. It’s cheap and it makes the installation much easier. I’ve seen people in Youtube reviews using cans, tennis balls, and other items and that’s nonsense when you can get a cheap roller that does a better job.

The roller is the main tool that you will use and it makes sense to get a good one. You don’t want to be rolling and have the tool fall apart on you.

The roller I purchased did great throughout the whole install and allowed me to get the material properly seated.

What does 80 mil mean?

When I was first looking at sound deadening material, I was a little confused at what some of the numbers meant. I initially assumed that 80 mil must mean that it is 80 millimeters thick.

I thought, there is no way that it could be this thick. That would make the material over three inches thick.

Of course, that’s not what it means at all. What it really means is that the material is 0.08 inches thick.

1 mil = .001 inch

so

80 mil = .08 inch

50 mil vs 80 sound deadening

If you are in the market for sound deadening, I would recommend going with 80 mil. It is thicker and will provide a better vibration reduction over 50 mil.

It will be a bit heavier but overall, it will be more effective for reducing noises.

If you are going to go through the trouble of installing a sound deadening material, be sure to do it right from the start. 80 mil is a good thickness to use and will provide sound reduction without being too heavy.

Noico claims that their thicker 80 mil will give you 1.5 times greater insulating effectiveness than from their 50 mil product.

Final Thoughts

Sound deadening fully installed in my van

I’m not sure this was a necessary step in the process of my van build but I’m glad I did it. I can tell a difference and it doesn’t sound as much like a tin can when driving down the road.

However, don’t expect this to create a super quiet ride for you. This is simply a vibration dampener and should be combined with other acoustic insulation if you expect a more quiet environment.

Overall, the process of installation was very easy and I have put together a pro and con list below from my experience.

Pros

  • Low odor – tiny asphalt odor in the beginning but goes away quickly
  • Easy to install – peel and stick and roll it into place
  • Low cost – adds a great sound deadening layer for a small price to pay
  • Quality – you get all the quality as some of the more expensive brands for less money

Cons

  • Sharp corners – I had quite a few nicks and cuts when I was done installing it. You can avoid this by always wearing protective gloves.

Plain and simple, if you are building out a camper van or want fewer sound vibrations in your vehicle, you can’t go wrong with Noico 80 mil.

It provides a solid base of sound deadening that you can then add to with sound-deadening insulation to help create a quieter ride.

We plan to use Thinsulate for our insulation which will hopefully provide an acoustic barrier that will keep more sound out.

Learn more about our experience with installing Thinsulate in our van.

Cleaning, Patching and Preparing a Van Floor

Empty cargo van ready for van build

When we purchased our van, it came with a mess of stuff bolted to the floor.  As I’m sure many people experience, we had to rip this stuff out and then worry with the holes that were left.

Had we realized there were going to be so many holes to fill, we may have kept looking and passed on the purchase of this van. 

However, we had been looking for a while and high top vans aren’t easy to find close to where we live, unless you want to order a brand new one from the dealer.  That’s not something we wanted to do so our search for the perfect used one led us to this one.

Everything else was perfect and to be honest, we didn’t even think about how difficult removing items from the cargo area and patching holes would be.  We figured that everyone has to go through this when they buy a used van.

The first order of business was to remove the 1 x 6 wood boards and the track system that was mounted to the floor.  

These were held in with a combination of bolts and pop rivets.  I knew I was in for a treat with the pop rivets.  In my experience, these things are a pain in the butt to remove.  The best way I have found is to drill them out.  

There are other ways, but this is the way I chose and it worked pretty well.

The bolts required going underneath the van and also required someone to hold the other side of the bolt from the top side while I loosened the nut from the bottom side.  

This wasn’t difficult but time consuming and frustrating at times as I bumped my knuckles, elbows and head on different parts of the van underside.  

In total, there were 128 holes from all the bolts and rivets that were removed.  

Holes in van floor
Example of holes in the van floor

Wow, if someone had told me at the dealership that there were 128 holes to patch, I would have probably walked. 

Having removed the bolts and rivets, I was left with all these holes to patch.  Before patching these holes, I wanted to clean, sand and paint all areas that were bare metal.  

The floor didn’t have any rusty areas, thank goodness.  However, I did plan to go ahead and paint the whole floor just to make it look nice.

I’m a perfectionist and I want to know that every part of the van was done right.  I wouldn’t feel right just covering up a scuffed up metal floor.  That’s not me.  

So my next step was to sand each hole along with the entire floor.  I then painted each hole with two coats of Rustoleum white protective enamel paint.  

After that had dried, I put two coats of the same paint on the entire floor and wheel wells along with any areas on the side walls that had paint rubbed off.  

I was on a mission to make the cargo area of this van look like it had just come off the assembly line.  I’ll have to say, the before and after was impressive and I’m glad I went through the trouble to make it look as good as I did.  

The next step was to fill in the holes and I accomplished this in a  variety of ways.  

My first choice was to put pop rivets back into the holes where they had come out of and this is what I did for about 60 holes.  

I feel like this provides a good seal and closed the hole up just as well as it was before.  I also plan to go underneath the van and put sealant around each rivet where it is poking through just to be sure it is watertight.

The rest of the holes I tried different options but finally settled on JB Weld Steelstik.  I had tried Permatex liquid metal filler and it was terrible.  It just cracked and fell right through the hole with the slightest amount of pressure.  It wasn’t suitable at all for this application.  The JB Weld dried and felt as though it was as sturdy as the metal floor was.  

A few tubes of JB Weld later, I was finally finished with all of these holes in the floor.

JB weld in the van floor
Patched holes in the floor

In the end, I was happy how it turned out.  It took far longer than I had imagined but that was only because I was meticulous and wanted to do every thing as correctly as possible.  

I feel like this is foundational stuff that needs to be done right.  

Now that the floor has been done to my satisfaction, I can move on to the next step in my build process knowing that I have done the best I could on the floor.

View the next step – Installing sound deadening material…

Choosing a Van For a Camper Conversion

Ram Promaster Van

Searching for a van can be a daunting task. It’s often difficult to find a good used van that is in excellent condition with low mileage. On the other hand, buying a new van is expensive and isn’t usually a good idea since vehicles depreciate so much.

Which Van is Best For Conversion to a Camper?

This question will depend entirely upon what you are looking for in a van. Whether you are looking for a small van or a large van, there are many options for you to choose from.

The one that is best for you might not be the best option for someone else.

During my search, I mainly focused on three models of vans and each of them had something unique to offer that the other one didn’t.

However, I had some specific criteria that I was looking for in my van. In order to choose the best van for myself, it had to meet these criteria as close as possible.

The criteria that I set for my search were as follows:

  1. It needed to be wide enough to sleep sideways in the van. The layout I had designed had the bed facing in this manner.
  2. It needed to be a high roof so that it would be comfortable to move around in.
  3. It would need to be a medium length van. The 159″ wheelbase Ram Promaster offered the ideal size.
  4. If used, mileage needed to be less than 30,000 miles.
  5. I wanted something that was no more than a couple of years old. At the time of my build, it was 2018 so I was set on buying something 2016 or newer.
  6. The price needed to be $25k or less.

Obviously, you will probably have different criteria if you decide to convert a van to a camper. Some will require more space and some will require less.

Whatever the case may be, you should set out to make a list of criteria for yourself and then choose the van that best suits your needs.

Best Van Options For DIY Camper Conversion

Since finding the perfect van for you is a personal option, there are many vans that will work and will probably be included in your search.

There are a few common models that are typically used when one wants to convert a van into a camper. The following list contains the most popular and most reliable vans on the market.

Mercedes Sprinter

The most expensive of all is the Mercedes Sprinter. The Sprinter is a popular option mainly because of the Mercedes name. It offers small options as well as larger options and also is available in diesel or gasoline.

Many people prefer a diesel engine for the extra power that it provides. However, a diesel engine was not a criterion of mine and I actually did not want a diesel engine because diesel engine fuel is more expensive where I live and also isn’t available in all locations like gasoline is.

The Sprinter vans are available in 144-inch wheelbase all the way up to 170-inch wheelbase and come in a low roof or high roof option.

The downside of the Sprinter van, in my opinion, is the narrow width. Since I wanted my bed positioned sideways within my van, the Sprinter did not offer enough space for this so this van was off of the table for me.

Other downsides include the high price tag as well as the high price required to maintain the van.

Ram Promster

The Promaster is a popular option for van builders and it has many positive things going for it. Unlike the sprinter van, it is only available in a gasoline engine and also only in two-wheel-drive.

The Mercedes Sprinter as mentioned above is available in two-wheel-drive and the all-new 2019 version is available in four-wheel-drive.

The Ram Promaster has been around for many years in Europe and is marketed as the Fiat Ducato. It has a proven track record and is a dependable van and works perfectly for a van build.

In fact, many commercial class B motorhomes are built on this chassis.

The good thing about the Promaster is that it has a wider body and allows a full-size bed to be positioned sideways within the cabin. This is important to me because of my layout and it was one of my major criteria.

The Promaster is easy to find, easy to service, and the V6 gasoline engine provides plenty of power as well as outstanding fuel efficiency. It is also easy to drive and has a comfortable but minimal cabin.

Ford Transit

Another popular option is the Ford transit and this van is available in many different configurations. They come in short-wheelbase is as well as longer wheelbases and the roof options include low roof, medium roof, and high roof.

The Transit is sure to meet the requirements of most conversion van builders.

However, like the Sprinter, the Ford Transit has a narrow footprint and does not allow a full-size bed to be positioned sideways. This ruled the Transit out in my search.

The Transit is a dependable van that can easily be serviced throughout the United States no matter where you are. It’s very easy to drive and very comfortable and has all the modern conveniences that you are used to in a vehicle.

The Transit is also now available in four-wheel-drive which is great for those who have the need to go off-road from time to time.

Nissan NV

I’m a big fan of Nissan as I have owned a Nissan Frontier for nine years now without any problems. My wife owns a Nissan and we have owned other Nissans in the past. We have never had problems with any of them.

I initially looked at the Nissan NV as an option for a conversion van. However, for my taste, the Nissan NV was just a bit small and it was also hard to find in my area. Not to mention, it looks a little strange with the body shape that it has.

Like most all of Nissan vehicles, the NV is very fuel-efficient and allows for a lot of space in a small van. You don’t see as many Nissan NV‘s as camper vans but they do make a great option if you are looking to build out your own van.

The NV comes with a V-6 or a V-8 engine and has plenty of power to carry your camper van wherever you need to go.

Chevrolet Express

If you are looking for a low roof van or one that you can add a pop-top to, the Chevy Express is a great option. This van is commonly seen as a work van for companies in different industries.

From plumbers to electricians, you see these vans all over the place. They are a dependable option.

These are easy to find used since most companies use vans like this as work vans.

However, be careful buying used work vans especially if they have high mileage. These types of vans get used and abused by many different people over the years and can be a nightmare if you end up with one that has been misused or not well maintained over the years.

Ford Econoline

Similar to the Chevrolet Express, the Ford Econoline is also a great option if you are seeking a lower roof van. These are also easy to find and can be purchased used for a great price if you are looking to build a van for less.

The production of these ceased in 2015 so if you were interested in this van, you’ll have to settle for a used one.

VW Vans

If you want a vintage option or one with some character, a VW van may be the way to go. Many people appreciate the old school feel of a van like this. Some of the options include the Westfalia, Volkswagen Type II, and the Vanagon.

This type of van will probably require a lot of work because you may have to do mechanical work in order to make it functional. If you like old vehicles and are up to the challenge, Volkswagen vans can be a very cool option.

What is the Most Reliable Van?

If I’m going to spend money on purchasing a van for a camper conversion, I want to know that it will be reliable and last for many years to come. Most modern vans are reliable as long as they are taken care of and maintained properly.

There is no way to say what type of van is the most reliable. Many people have different experiences with different brands and models of vans.

The three most common brands which include the Ford Transit, the Mercedes Sprinter, and the Ram Promaster which are all written about above are at the top of the list if you are looking for a reliable van.

You can’t go wrong with any of these three as long as you do your homework and make sure you are buying a van that has been well-maintained if it is a used one.

Of course, there will always be those lemons or duds that you will find from time to time. However, this is uncommon and is unlikely.

What is the Most Economical Van?

Fuel economy is very important to me and I want to know that the van that I choose is going to get good fuel efficiency. Of course, there are also other things to consider with fuel economy.

It isn’t just about the van or the engine or transmission. You must also consider the weight of the vehicle and the aerodynamics can also come into play.

If you are going to have a roof rack with solar panels and other things up on your roof that can cause wind resistance, the fuel efficiency may suffer.

On the other hand, if you make your van build as light as possible and do all that you can to make it as aerodynamic as possible, you will reap the benefits of a fuel-efficient van.

I prefer either the Ram Promaster or the Ford Transit in the case of fuel efficiency. I also prefer a gasoline engine and in my mind, I am seeking to get between 16 and 22 miles per gallon with my camper van conversion.

My Choice and Process For Purchasing a Van

After all, was said and done on my search for the perfect van, the only two models that I was interested in were the Mercedes Sprinter or the Ram Promaster.

The Ram Promaster seems very well suited for a camper van and many of the Class B motorhomes are built on the Promaster chassis.

Right from the start of my search, I realized that the Sprinter was quite a bit more expensive than the Promaster. This was to be expected. However, it is also slightly more narrow which would make it difficult to fit my bed sideways as my layout required.

I decided to narrow my search down to a Promaster.

The difficult part was finding one that wasn’t hundreds of miles away. I wanted a used one but I didn’t want to drive all over the country to look at a van that I wasn’t even sure would work for me. I had never even stepped inside a Promaster at the time that I began my search.

I finally found one at a dealer that was less than 50 miles from where I live and it was exactly what I was looking for. I immediately called about it and went to look at it.

Once I stepped inside the van, I realized that it was perfect for what I was looking for. I knew that I would be able to build an awesome home on wheels with this vehicle.

The van checked off all the boxes on my list so I snatched it up the same day and drove it home.

The van was a 2017 Ram Promaster 2500 high roof. It had 27,300 miles on it and I purchased it for $23300.

It was well under book price so I am happy with that decision. The drive back from the dealer was a pleasure and the van seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

Of course, it’s just an empty metal shell at this point so it seems a bit overwhelming to look into the cargo area and think about the work that has to be done to get it camper van ready.

The van buying part is over, now comes the fun part of actually putting our plan to work.