Insulation: Foil-backed jute
- Ultra Touch
- Second Skin Heatwave
Jute is a vegetable fiber that can be formed into cloth- or felt-like materials. In the case of automotive insulation, it generally comes as a 1/4" to 1/2" blanket, tightly woven, and similar in texture to felt. It contains dead air and thus provides thermal and acoustic insulation. Aluminum foil can be bonded to one or both sides. I've placed cotton insulation into the same category, as they exhibit much the same behaviour.
Jute has been used as insulation in cars for decades - pull back the carpet in any of your vehicles, and you're likely to find a jute pad (although rubber-scrap pads are often substituted). It's also used for engine bay insulation. It's a pretty versatile material.
Being natural, a key benefit is its lack of out-gassing. Any petrochemical-based material will release toxic vapors into your vehicle's environment - not desirable when you're spending long hours inside a small space! Jute pads are natural, and many use borax for fire, mold, and pest-resistance. Borax is a naturally-occurring salt that has low toxicity (though ingestion of relatively large amounts can cause reactions).
Jute pads are affixed to the skin of the vehicle with a spray adhesive. Their natural properties allow them to 'breathe,' meaning that they'll release any moisture that they absorb before it becomes a problem. With any insulation job, you want to make sure that you're not trapping moisture against the side of the van. Foil-backed jute pads are ideal, as the foil provides a moisture barrier (seal any seams with foil tape).
My recommendation for a whole-vehicle insulation material.
Get it at
- JC Whitney (hint: buy the 'complete pack' instead of the individual rolls. They're actually cheaper per sq.ft, and include foil tape and adhesive. Somehow dispose of the included adhesive, and replace with something less toxic). 1-sided.
- Home Depot (online only). 2-sided.
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