AlaskanGrownVan
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Insulation

We did 3 types of insulation:

  1. R-Max Rigid Foam Board

  2. Rockwool "Safe n sound" stonewool batting

  3. spray foam

Why?

After intense research over insulation we decided on R-Max rigid board insulation for the majority of the van. This has reflective properties and the highest r-value per inch we could find.

Roxul for the sound deadening qualities and for the "stuffability" factor for the hallow channels.

Spray foam for filling in around the R-max and helping it adhere. Spray foam is great for holding this in place once dried. Spray foam also for channels that we couldn't shove the Roxul through.

How?

Measure the spaces and cut each foam board out to match, allowing a gap all the way around for spray foam. We layered as much of the foam board as we could. About 1-3 sheets deep (of 1" thick sheets) depending on how deep the interior spaces allowed for. The bottom of the walls we got away with 3", the middle 1-2", and the top 1". We built out our walls so we actually were able to throw a 1/2" thick piece of R-max (rigid foam) on top of it all. Spray adhesive kept it in place temporarily and spray foamed in to permanently secure it.

Pulled Rockwool through the wide channels, being careful not to dense it up too much. You want it to still maintain airspace. Spray foam went in the ceiling ribs.

 

Windows were insulated with a insulating fabric that has two double sided reflective layers and thing batting to create an airspace. Read more on the Windows page.

 Our first day on the road and what a mess!

 Our first day on the road and what a mess!

Bed

Mattress

What?

A Casper brand mattress, size queen. 10" thick.

why?

1. Matt is 6'1" so laying wall-to-wall wasn't an option. We weren't going to install flares because they weren't even going to accommodate his height with wiggle room. Plus flares are very $$$$. Oh and we live in Alaska, which they don't ship to.

2. We upgraded our at-home mattress to a Casper and loved it sooo much we knew we were putting it in the van.

3. We didn't want to compromise our backs and our sleep. We value them too much. So we weren't going to do some 4" thick piece of foam and cut it to fit or some other goofy way of creating a van mattress.

4. Queen size because that's at least enough room to roll around and not be on top of each other. Did I mention Matt is 6'1"? That translates into long arms, and we both like to spread it out when we sleep.

 

and now?

Still very happy with our mattress and entire bed decision. Flannel sheets have done us good but time to upgrade for the summer to 100% linen sheets.

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Finished cover stuck on the fridge

Windows

covers

what?

Insulating fabric from Joann's. It's called "Warm Window". It has two layers of reflective material sandwiching three layers of thin batting which creates the airspace you need.

I then covered that with simple black fabric for the exterior and a decorative fabric for the interior. Black makes the windows look tinted and not like there are insulated window covers in the window - which to us would look super obvious that it's a camper. This way it looks way more stealth.

Don't worry! The black fabric layer doesn't hinder the reflective properties.

 

how?

Full disclosure: I have some sewing skills and access to a nice machine.

After measuring the windows and comparing that to the size of the "warm window" fabric dimensions (which can be cut to whatever length you want), I made "pillow cases" sort of for the insulating fabric. In these cases, I sewed pockets in for the rare earth magnets. This is only going to in for the back windows. The side windows don't need magnets because the window frames are aluminum. I used velcro on those. Unless you want to make the window covers larger than your frames so they can stick to the frame of the van. But also take into account how you'll frame the windows. My framing/trim came all the way up the aluminum frame. 

And Now?

I should have added more magnets. They hold up fine, but I rather have them really grab on good! I spaced them about 7-9 inches apart. I will be adding magnets in between them all, so they will be spaced 3-4 inches apart.

They work amazingly well!! We've woken up when the sun was totally out, and boy were they hot on the window side but we were nice and cool inside. Vice versa for the cold nights. You can feel behind them and it's definitely keeping the heat in or out whatever you need.

So happy I went with black for the exterior. 

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Kitchen

Cabinets

what?

Ikea kitchen base cabinets, 15" deep (which are shallower than the standard).

how?

Measured in Alaska, Picked up in Portland, Oregon. Checked them for free on Alaska Airlines back to Alaska. (Woot Woot to Alaska Air's Club 49!)

Built a base out of 2x4s. Drilled holes through this so we could run our water line through it and up through the bottom of the cabinet.

Handles were ordered online (not from Ikea).

Why?

I didn't feel like building them. Hard enough building things in Alaska when you don't have a readily available enclosed garage. I like assembling better.  Bonus: I can do that inside a warm dry house while watching Netflix.

countertop

what?

Ikea butcher block. Solid Oak. 1 1/8" thick.

How?

Bought at Ikea in Kansas City and drove it up to Alaska in my van (along with tons of other supplies. This is days after I bought it in New York).

Stained it with the best out there. Rubio Monocoat in Chocolate.

why?

I love the look and I can make a sink cut out - therefore not giving up counter space to the sink like you would with other countertop materials. This made for a clean, smooth look. We definitely gave it a 1/4" reveal or more to make sure the sink cut out had something to sit on and it wouldn't just fall through the sink or wobble.

And now?

Countertop has been great. We need to wipe up water spills and keep a towel or sponge under the faucet when driving to soak up water drips. A little delamination is happening but it's at a spot that wasn't 100% perfect to begin with. Also, it seems that the sink piece is harder to take out than it used to. Perhaps it's swelled ever so slightly. Other than that, the rest of the butcher block has been awesome and happy with the Rubio Monocoat stain/sealer.

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Stereo System

Car Stereo

We bought an aftermarket bluetooth, HD touchscreen stereo, new speakers, and new tweeters to replace the stock.

Stereo: Pioneer AVH-X391BHS

Speakers and Tweeters: Kenwood KFC-P709PS 6.5"

Speaker Adapaters: These are needed because of the size difference between stock speakers and the larger aftermarket. Purchase them here.

 

"Home" Audio

We didn't choose to pipe in surround speakers because we didn't want to be stuck having to use the deck stereo when parked (which needs the ignition on), and we love having a portable speaker. That said we bought a waterproof bluetooth speaker from Costco for $80 and use it whenever we're parked, watching movies, or lounging outside. 

 

And Now?

We've been happy with our purchase. The difference between the stock stereo and speakers and the aftermarket is really night and day. We also were able to add insulation while replacing the door speakers since you have to take the door panel off. We had to order speaker inserts to accommodate the size difference of the hole in the door between the stock and new speakers. Impact Products sells them here. He makes different sizes and can accommodate whatever size speaker you buy.