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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.
|Brand||Thickness||Good & Bad|
|Noico||80 mil (0.08 inches)||Low Cost, installation indicator, low odor, pre-cut sections|
|KilMat||80 mil (0.08 inches)||Most affordable, installation indicator, pre-cut sections|
|FatMat||80 mil (0.08 inches)||More Expensive, comes on a roll, requires cutting|
|Dynamat||67 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.
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
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.