Last updated: March 16, 2022 at 11:14 am
Van sound deadening can be achieved by soundproofing these areas; floor, doors, roof, walls and windows. By focusing on these areas, the amount of noise penetrating the van will be kept to a minimum.
Whether you use your van for business, camping or living in, they are built for utility rather than the driver’s comfort in mind so will be noisy. This can mean putting up with a lot of noise each day, even at low speeds. That is not good for your health or your sanity.
Whatever you use your van for, soundproofing will make your van more comfortable. As well as noise reduction, many soundproofing materials are excellent insulators and will help keep the temperature inside the van stable.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 Where Does Van Noise Come From?
- 2 Van Sound Deadening in 4 Steps
- 3 Soundproofing Materials To Avoid
- 4 Conclusion
Where Does Van Noise Come From?
Van noise is generated in three main ways:
- The engine makes a lot of noise which travels through the air
- The metal panels of the van tend to vibrate when the van is in motion. It can also cause an effect like an echo chamber if tools or materials are also vibrating in the back
- There is additional airborne noise from the world outside
Although the methods to block these different types of sounds may be different, we must always remember that we must do it everywhere for soundproofing to be effective.
Just soundproofing the doors or the floor or roof will not be sufficient.
Van Sound Deadening in 4 Steps
Step 1: Soundproof the Floor
The best way is to install some form of soundproof material on the floor. Ideally, you need a product designed to block airborne sounds as well as vibrations where the tyres meet the road. The two best options are either a specially designed soundproof floor mat or mass loaded vinyl.
Each of these has its pros and cons. The floor mats come with adhesive backing and so can be fitted quite easily. It also saves you from buying adhesive, but it’s worth doing anyway to ensure the mats stay put.
Mass loaded vinyl will need a separate adhesive, but it is thin and very flexible, making it easier for you to cut and fit. It also has a rubbery texture making it easy to wipe clean if you have dirty boots or spill anything.
Whichever you choose, you need to start the installation by removing the existing mats in your van. Once they’re out hoover and clean the floor extremely thoroughly. If any dirt or grit is left behind, then the adhesive will not stick properly, and the mat or mass loaded vinyl will start to lift.
If Using a Soundproof Mat
Remove the backing and press the mats firmly onto your van’s floor. Aim to cover as much of the floor as possible, even under the seats, if you can manage it.
The mats are thin, so you should be able to cut them easily to fit them into the nooks and crannies.
If Using Mass Loaded Vinyl
Apply the adhesive to the back. Carefully press it onto the floor and try to get it onto the entire bottom of the van. MLV is very flexible, so you should have no trouble cutting it to size and even sliding it under the seats. It’s also very thin, so you could even add a second layer to increase its sound absorbing abilities.
Once you’ve laid the mat or mass loaded vinyl, you should use a roller to make sure the glue adheres properly. Leave the glue to dry completely and then relay the van’s original mats on top. Or if they’re old replace them with new ones, or even carpet. More mass will enhance the soundproofing effect.
Important: when soundproofing the floor, make sure to cover the wheels as this is a vulnerable point for tyre and road noise!
Step 2: Soundproof the Doors
Soundproofing the doors is easy once you’ve taken the internal panels off. This can be a fiddly job, so do it carefully to avoid damaging them. If there are speakers in the door, you’ll need to take these out too.
As with the floor, the surface of the doors needs to be completely clean before you begin. You can use a range of materials for this. A quick search online will bring up plenty of dedicated cleaners. However, washing up liquid does a surprisingly good job. Once you’ve washed the door panels thoroughly, wipe them down with alcohol to remove any lingering contaminants.
Next, you need to apply the insulation material. You need to apply soundproof material to the back of the panel you remove to block airborne noise from outside. You could use soundproof panels or mass loaded vinyl again. However, SoundSkins make a Pro Door Kit specifically designed to soundproof your door. This makes installation easier as it should already be the right size and shape, and you just need to stick them to your inner door panels. It’s also thinner than some other options to ensure the outer panels fit back on correctly. However, the kit is more expensive, so you need to factor this into your decision.
If you plan to use soundproof panels or MLV you need it to fit as snuggly as possible. It might be easier to trace the shape of the door on paper or cardboard to make a template. You can then use it to cut out the soundproof material.
The aim of the soundproofing on the outer door panel is to reduce noise caused by it vibrating. The best solution for the outer door panel is to install insulation foam and cut it to size. You don’t need to cover the whole door, and you can cut out squares and space them evenly instead.
You should aim to cover a minimum of 25% of the door’s surface, but the more, the better. When cutting out the foam, remember to leave gaps for locks, speakers, door handles, etc.
Once you have it cut out, either remove the backing or apply adhesive and firmly press the soundproofing onto the panel.
Step 3: Soundproof the Roof and Wall Panels
You can use the same process as you used with the doors. If you suspect vibrations are causing a lot of noise, then apply insulation foam or acoustic foam tiles evenly across the walls and roof. Make sure they are firmly attached, and the adhesive has dried before moving on to the next step.
Next, glue soundproof panels or mass loaded vinyl on top of the foam to block noise from outside the van. Mass loaded vinyl can be painted so if you want to improve the look, you can paint it. Soundproof panels tend to be silver or black. However, if you really hate the look, you could choose to build a plasterboard wall over it.
Ensure it fits well, as you don’t want the panels to stop vibrating just for the newly built wall to start. If you decide to do this, you could add a layer of house insulation between your soundproofing and the new wall to reduce noise further and keep in more heat.
Step 4: Soundproof the Windows
Windows are a classic weak spot in soundproofing. Unfortunately, the normal solutions when soundproofing windows in your home will not work here.
Note: If you’re camping in your van, you can install curtains on the front windows to improve soundproofing when stationary.
If the rear of your van has windows, you could choose to seal them up with foam and soundproof panels. There isn’t a great deal you can do about the windows in the cab.
Your best option is to ensure the windows are in good condition and seal up any gaps around the frame with acoustic sealant.
Soundproofing Materials To Avoid
None of the options listed above is particularly expensive, but when you’re soundproofing an entire van, you may be looking to save money. Many household materials are suggested on forums as a cheap way of soundproofing an area.
Unfortunately, most of them don’t work and are a waste of time and effort. If you want your van to be quieter, avoid:
- Egg cartons
- Bubble wrap
None of these items has enough mass to block out sound.
If you’re looking for alternatives to the options listed above, you could consider thick carpeting on the floor and moving blankets or acoustic tiles on the walls and roof.
Although there are many surfaces to soundproof, a van is not a large space compared to a room in a house. Once you have your materials and tools assembled, you should be able to complete the entire project in half a day.
Top tips for the best results:
- Clean the van thoroughly first, do not be tempted to skip this step to save time
- Measure the area you’re working on carefully and cut out the soundproof material precisely to ensure the best result
- Press the soundproofing into place firmly and give it time to dry completely
- Make sure you seal up any small gaps with acoustic sealant once you’re done to complete the job