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RV Insulation and Soundproofing

How to Soundproof your RV

How to Soundproof your RV

Campers, road trippers, and people who love peeing at 65mph, rejoice! We talk a lot about how to stay comfortable in cars while driving, but comfort is even more important for recreational vehicles. Think of all the TIME you spend in an RV while on the road!

RV’s come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s tough to recreate when your RV is noisy and hot. As much of a beating as RVs take, they’re actually built pretty cheaply, and unfortunately the quality doesn’t start leaping upwards until you’re spending over $250K. That's part of the reason you see such a dedication in the RV community to MAINTENANCE and ENHANCING the base features that come standard. Fortunately, you can have premium-end comfort even if you didn’t shell out a million dollars for your RV.

We're here to help you luxury-ify your RV. (Not a word...we know).

Campers, road trippers, and people who love peeing at 65mph, rejoice! We talk a lot about how to stay comfortable in cars while driving, but comfort is even more important for recreational vehicles. Think of all the TIME you spend in an RV while on the road!

RV’s come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s tough to recreate when your RV is noisy and hot. As much of a beating as RVs take, they’re actually built pretty cheaply, and unfortunately the quality doesn’t start leaping upwards until you’re spending over $250K. That's part of the reason you see such a dedication in the RV community to MAINTENANCE and ENHANCING the base features that come standard. Fortunately, you can have premium-end comfort even if you didn’t shell out a million dollars for your RV.

We're here to help you luxury-ify your RV. (Not a word...we know).

Free USA shipping
Free USA shipping

Popular RV Soundproofing Materials


Spectrum™ Spray on Deadener
Damplifier Pro™ Deadening Mats
Luxury Liner Pro™ Automotive Noise Barrier

Soundproofing & Insulating the RV Cockpit

RVs are basically moving houses, which means you have to deal with all the flaws of both cars and homes. Doing what we do, we’ve come to know a lot of RV owners, and we see how much care they put into maintenance to save on long-term costs. Upgrading your soundproofing and insulation can go a long way to not only make you more comfortable in your RV, but prevent exposure to outside elements that create damages.

Your RV will see a variety of terrain, climates, and environments. We’ll help you find the right materials to ensure you can rest comfortably no matter where you are. First... let’s tackle soundproofing the road noise and engine noise.

RV cockpit

Soundproofing RV Road Noise

RVs are wide, long, and not exactly build to be aerodynamic. When driving along the road at speed, the chassis and frame generate a lot of structural vibrations (as well as dirt and debris kicking up and echoing throughout your cabin). To stop the structural noise, one of the easiest fixes is spraying Spectrum liquid sound deadener inside the wheel wells. Spectrum is an easy to install high-heat, water based, viscoelastic polymer. Not only is it waterproof, but it also contains rust inhibiting properties to help maintain your vehicle. Here’s a quick guide of how to install Spectrum in your RV's wheel wells.

 

Quick Steps to Sound Deaden an RV's Wheel Wells

Step 1: Remove the wheels and plastic wheel liners and use plastic or tape to cover the surrounding frame and rotor. You don’t want to spray the wheel hub or bearings.

Step 2: Clean the wheel well and check for rust. Clean any rust you find with a wire brush

Step 3: Spray spectrum on as much of the metal areas of your wheel well as you can. Start with a thin layer as Spectrum adheres best to itself. Continue to add layers as needed. (Recommended: 2-3mm of total thickness)

 

You can even take your vibration damping a step further and cover the underbelly of your RV with Spectrum as a sound deadening undercoat. Same idea as with the wheel wells. Treat the vibrations at their source before they can transmit up into the upper structures of the RV. An undercoating of Spectrum will also add good insulation to the RV's underbelly if you get it to 3mm of total thickness (max 5mm).

Learn More about Vehicle Sound Deadening

sound deadening undercoat

Soundproofing RV Engine Noise

RV engines are often large, short stroke, and have a really high RPM. This makes them especially loud, more so when hauling something or driving uphill. To keep the engine noise down we recommend using a combination of Damplifier Pro, Luxury Liner Pro, and Heat Wave Pro.

There’s not much between the engine and the driver’s seat, and with such a large engine the noise really comes through. So start by applying Damplifier Pro to the entire front of the RV under the driver. Continue to apply it on the firewall and under the hood.

To build out the noise barrier between you and the engine, apply Luxury Liner Pro on the cabin side firewall and the front part of the floor. Building 100% coverage with your dense MLV barrier is ABSOLUTELY KEY to blocking out those loud engine noises. Essentially, you want to create a wall between you and the noise.

And then finally, add some sound absorption to the doghouse with Heat Wave Pro. You’d be surprised what a little muffling with this sound absorbing jute will due to tamp down some of that engine noise. It’ll also add insulation.

Rv soundproofing engine and road noise

Luxury Liner Pro should be installed with 100% coverage as high up on the cabin side of the firewall as possible

Rv soundproofing engine noise

Extend the noise barrier over to the passenger side to further block airborne sound waves from the engine and tires

Soundproofing An RV Generator Box and Water Pump

There’s a lot going on in an RV to keep things running, and that can make for a lot of racket. There’s a couple places in particular to keep an eye on.

RV Generator Box: Another tiny engine to complement your giant engine! Start by checking to make sure the rattling from your generator isn't transferring to structural noise from the metal casing. If so, use Damplifier Pro to damp the vibrating metal and stop the structural noise. In most situations, the bulk of the noise emitted from a generator is airborne, so we recommend using mass loaded vinyl to make a soundproof generator box. Because of the heat created by the generator, we don’t suggest applying the MLV inside the box unless you cover it with a foil heat shield. If you decide to do install MLV inside the box, be certain you’re leaving at least a 2 inch gap for adequate air flow.

Water Pump: Unlike the generator, the noise from a water pump often comes from rattling. Closed cell foam is the easiest solution here. It's water resistant and will decouple the rattling pipe from whatever hard surface it's hitting to create the noise. If it's the pump itself making noise, remove the screws holding it down and slip either OverKill or OverKill Pro closed cell foam underneath the pump to keep it from vibrating against the floor. If you have pipes rattling against cabinets or flooring, identify the rattling pipes and wrap them tightly in OverKill as well.

RV Insulation Materials

We use R-value is a way of measuring a material’s resistance to conductive heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the material is at resisting the natural flow of heat. The three factors that play the biggest part in determining R-value are the type of insulation, the thickness of the material, and the density of material.

There are a lot of strategies floating around on how to insulate your RV. The types of RV insulation generally fall into 3 buckets:

Fiberglass: Being so cheap, and with such a high R-value, fiberglass is often considered a go-to material for insulation. You’ll often find it behind the walls of the living area in an RV, because it’s cost-effective and you have space to build up a good thickness. However it’s incredibly susceptible to moisture, which can lead to mold and rot. Something to watch out for if you travel to high-humidity or rainy climates. It also doesn’t last as long as other insulation options, as over time it will shrink and curl up inside the wall cavity. As it shrinks, fiberglass insulations provides far less heat resistance than when it was first installed.

Rigid Foam: Rigid foam material is water-resistant and has a long lifespan, but it can be hard to install aftermarket. While the R-value per inch is 30-50% higher than fiberglass, you typically see fewer inches of material vs the fluffy and thick fiberglass. Because the material is inflexible and RV’s have lots of nooks and crannies (and every gap counts), trying to cut rigid foam for every space can get tedious.

Spray Foam: On the opposite end of the spectrum as far as rigidity, spray foam can easily get into every gap. However this comes with a price. Most spray foams are extremely pungent, and the smell can stick around for months after install. It also can get messy if you aren’t experienced (or careful), which is why some people choose to get a professional to help with the install.

Material R-Value per Inch Pros Cons

Fiberglass

3 to 3.5

Cheap, Lightweight

Absorbs water; Reduced efficiency over time

Rigid Foam

4 to 6.5

Durable; Lightweight; Water-resistant

More expensive; Harder to install

Spray Foam

3.5 to 6.5

Cheap; Lightweight; Water-resistant

Odor; Can get messy

The type of insulation you go with will often depend on what’s already in the vehicle, how much space you have available. The materials we offer at Second Skin are designed for vehicle use, so they are typically excellent for the cabin area (although there are other places they work great too!). Our products are thin so you can use them individually or together depending on your needs, and flexible so you can easily apply them anywhere in your space. Each material is great for different needs, we encourage you to do what makes sense for your RV and travel habits.

Parts of the RV to Add Insulation

If you're thinking about insulating your RV, it pays to know where your weak points are. Let's say you're starting from ground zero and have NO insulation. The floor, walls, and ceiling are far and away your top priorities. That's where you're losing all your heat. Let's say you already have insulation, but the RV is still not comfortable. That's when you start looking for potential weak points - like the doors and windows (or gaps around them).

Windows & Doors: These are often a weak point in RV insulation and replacing them is a pricey solution. Check the caulking and weather stripping around for any gaps or drafts. An air gap is the biggest enemy of a well insulated RV. Consider creating window curtains from a heat shield material to keep the sun out on hot days.

Ceiling: Hot air rises, and can rise right out of your RV on a cold night. Apply insulation to your ceiling and even your vent cover to keep the heat inside when you’re in warmer climates. But be sure to leave adequate ventilation if you'll be cooking.

Walls: In addition to insulating the walls, pay special attention to slide-outs as they’re often less insulated than the rest of the RV.

Floors: If you have hard flooring, it can often be cold to the touch, especially in the mornings! Apply insulation material either under or above your flooring, and add rugs or mats for comfort. Also consider adding skirting to your RV to help reduce updrafts. As we mentioned earlier in the soundproofing section, an undercoating of Spectrum can cut both noise and heat transfer through the floor.

Heat Wave Pro: Flexible Jute Insulation for RVs

Heat Wave Pro is an excellent all-around utility player for your RV insulation needs. The treated jute insulation is wrapped in two layers of reinforced foil, making it an excellent radiant barrier as well as heat insulator. Heat Wave Pro can be installed as aftermarket insulation on the floor, ceiling, and walls or as insulation and soundproofing inside the RV engine's doghouse.

  • Treated jute is mold and mildew resistant, has a high R-value, and absorbs noise
  • Each blanket is 3/8" thick and 4' x 6' (24 sq ft)
  • Temperature rated to 250°F
  • Foil radiant barrier allows exceptional R-values when combined with an air gap.

RV Insulation and Soundproofing with Second Skin

Every RV is different and they can be pretty complex, with a variety of appliances, electrical wiring, water pipes, and lots of other intricate parts and pieces. So our best advice when installing your insulation is...to take your time. Make a plan, and pay attention to anything you take apart. As they say, measure twice and cut once. Take pictures and make labels so you don’t lose sight of any parts. For insulation to be effective it’s absolutely key to seal up any unnecessary gaps. Our materials are pretty easy to work with, but if you run into trouble, give us a call and we’ll help you through it.

These big, unwieldy, metal boxes can be comfortable too! Don't let your RV be an overheated noisemaker. With the right prep and care, you can convert any RV into a gentle giant. Let us help you find the right materials to make your traveling house a place to call home.