Baby, It’s Cold Outside… Interior Cabin Insulation in The Wanderlust Bus

interior cabin insulation - ceiling

With temperatures at our home base beginning to plummet, it was now time to address the interior cabin insulation. We need to be able to keep the interior cabin climate controlled not just to keep us warm as we work, but more importantly, so that when we apply the EcoPoxy to all of our wood and pour our countertops, we can be sure that it will cure effectively.

What Are Your Interior Cabin Insulation Options?

When it comes to the interior cabin insulation in the Wanderlust Bus (or even your bus) there is a myriad of options available and a wide range of price points as well. When we first made our plan (read This Organic Bus for more), we had decided to go with another product, but due to lack of availability we had to explore other options. We were able to eliminate virtually all of the traditional insulation options out there due to their heavy toxicity levels. Once we eliminate the things that won’t work, as well as the products that are unavailable to us for whatever reason, we are left with a smaller list of options to choose from.

Mineral or Rock Wool insulation is a good choice for interior cabin insulation, and is ultimately what are installing in the bus. After exploring all of our other options, we felt that mineral wool had the best balance of features and natural properties to make it a perfect fit.

interior cabin insulation - rockwool

Mineral wool is a very similar to fiberglass, but it is made of natural materials instead of glass. It is moisture-resistant and works to insulate even if it’s damp. It also is a better acoustic insulator, so when you’re blaring Led Zepplin you won’t make the neighbors mad. And it won’t burn until things get really hot (1800°F), so it’s also a fire batting.

There are a lot of options out there as far as mineral wool goes. but a good portion of them use a binder that is loaded with formaldehyde. We chose a product made by Knauf insulation that has no VOCs and is completely formaldehyde-free.

This was one of our original plan choices but we were unable to get it anywhere close to us and what we could have delivered would have been cost prohibitive. Fortunately, we found that Knauf provides the store brand insulation for the Do It Best Centers nationwide and it is very reasonable on our wallets. When I purchased it, the cost was roughly 14 buck a roll (you can get it here) and they’ll ship it to the closest store for free.

Ultimately it was a no-brainer for us to go with this product as our interior cabin insulation of choice, but the other options that were up for debate are listed in the other tabs.

Denim or Cellulose insulation is made of post-consumer recycled cellulose (paper) primarily newspaper but also some cardboard and other paper stuffs. Though it has its benefits as interior cabin insulation, we concluded that the disadvantages far outweighed them

interior cabin insulation - celluloseCellulose and denim can be purchased in both batts as well as blown in and is very easy to work with. Be careful to look for one with a binder that is not chemical laden. Most are treated with boric acid, which is natural, and some are treated with an acrylic binder. These products also have a reasonable R-value (3.2/in).

These types of products are not without their problems though. The installation creates dust that you’ll need a mask to counter. It settles and becomes less effective over time and it absorbs moisture VERY easily which can cause mold.

We took issue not with the insulation product, but with the processing of the post-consumer recycled part of the product. When these old fabrics are being prepared they are soaked in a formaldehyde solution to sterilize them before they are shredded for use in the batts and loose insulation.

Though there are a lot of benefits to cellulose, until the process changes when processing, we had to move on.

Sheep’s wool is another great option for interior cabin insulation. when you compare it to traditional forms of insulation, there are a number of reasons why it is a better choice for certain projects.

interior cabin insulationThe natural wool fibers can manage 1/3 of their weight in moisture, don’t settle, and work even when wet. It naturally will put out fire and doesn’t combust easily. Wool will also act as a natural air filter breaking down all sorts of nasties in the air. It’s easy to install since you don’t need any crazy safety stuff.

With all the benefits, it seems like the perfect fit; and it was. The problem came when we tried to purchase it. As I said before, there are very few companies that offer it, and even fewer that can provide the products to the US. So if you’re reading this blog from the UK or most anywhere in Europe, this should be the first option you consider. Anywhere else, the cost to get it to you will probably blow your budget, because it is not cheap.

You may have seen this floating around your newsfeed on Facebook (incidentally check out our page here), but a few years back a company started producing mushroom packaging. Yes, I said mushroom.

interior cabin insulation - mushroomThese mushrooms aren’t like the ones you pick up at your local grocery, it’s a mycelium composite (the underground fibrous part of the mushroom). They’re stable and safe as well as water resistant. They are fire-resistant naturally with nothing added and you can install the stuff with no special protective gear.  Another thing I really like is the fact that any cutoff waste can be composted.

Now the issue. I know you want to run out right now and grab some to insulate your rumpus room, but you can’t. Really, you can’t. It’s not readily available to the consumer market yet, but they are working on bringing an insulation to the market soon. When it is available, it will be a viable option for some of you.

There are some other options out there that claim to be natural, including some spray foams. The problem comes when you look deeper into these products and you find that these products are no where near as natural as they claim to be. Now, I’m not into badmouthing anyone so I won’t get into specific product names.

Now, I’m not into badmouthing anyone so I won’t get into specific product names. I’ll simply tell you what to look for.

Some of these products say that they are zero-VOC. Even though there is very little trace of VOCs after the product is installed, the fact that the VOC levels during the installation are staggering, makes me take a step back. I may be just overly paranoid but it just wasn’t worth the risk to us.

Now that we made the decision on the mineral wool, we had to get it installed. We cut the pieces to length and then installed it in the ceiling. We had to find a way to keep it up without installing the ceiling wood. We are using hemp twine stapled to the ribs I made.It seems to be working really well and the bus seems to be regulating the temperature a little better due to the interior cabin insulation. Check out the installation video below and if you have questions or comments, by all

It’s been really tedious and the fact that the temperature has been hovering around freezing, but I even got the 14 year old to pitch in and help out. It seems to be working really well and the bus seems to be regulating the temperature a little better due to the interior cabin insulation. Check out the installation video below and if you have questions or comments, by all means let us know. Thanks for stopping by!

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