Scott and Ariane December 14, 2017 0

How we Insulated a 40 Year Old Airstream

One of the biggest decisions we made was how to insulate our vintage Airstream.  First, a little history lesson. Old campers, specifically vintage Airstreams came with pink fiber glass insulation and attracted almost every living creature that could squeeze into a little hole. Usually it meant baby mice, ants, birds, you name it, Airstreamer’s have found it. Notwithstanding the fact, then when this insulation got wet, it took forever to dry and usually a contributed to wood rot. Wood rot you say? Yes, Airstreams not only had insulation in between the inner skins, they also had fiberglass insulation down in the Belly Pan. Which was underneath the wood floor.

So when we decided what kind of insulation to replace this wet smelly pink insulation with, it was quite the big deal. After watching hours of videos and browsing the multitude of forum threads on Airstream forums, we decided on what we were going to do.

First, we decided NOT to insulate the Belly Pan (underneath the sub-floor). This decision was based solely on technology. The R value we would get was not worth the expense and we could laydown a Cork Underlayment when we installed our NuCore Waterproof floor.

Second, we looked at how converted vans would use foam board to keep heat out, then Reflectix to keep heat in. This  convinced us to go with 4×8 Polystyrene Garage Door Foam Board Insulation bought at Lowes.

Using 3/4 inch tiny foam squares, we could glue spacers on the inner wall to leave a 3/4 space between the outershell and the foam board. This maximizes the R-Value to 5.0 with one side of the foam board having a foil side or reflective side to reflect heat away.

On the other side of the foam board, we then put a layer of Reflectix which can add a R-value of 3.0 Getting to a 7.0 R-Value is about as good as it gets in an RV or camper.

You might ask, “why do you want to keep heat in”? We are putting in a Wood Burning Stove. (later post) It’s important that during colder months we can reflect the heat back inside the Airstream.

In a RV or any camper, you are dealing with keeping the heat out. You just can’t run the air conditioner all the time since you are often boondocking and have no Shore Power to use. This way, we can keep the Airstream as cool as possible by reflecting the heat away from the Inner Walls. Using a spacer between outer wall, and the inner foam board, we trap the heat in that space.

We feel pretty good about our decision and we definitely have noticed the difference between the old insulation and the new.

The real test of course is when it’s a 100 degree’s in the summer, AND it’s below freezing in the winter.

Materials Used: 

Insulform 4 x 8 x 3/4 foam board 

Reflectix 50-sq ft Reflective Roll Insulation (24-in W x 25-ft L) 

Sharp Sissors

Cutting knife

Super 77 16.75 fl. oz. Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive

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