A van without sound deadener becomes like a rattling metal box driving down the road. You don’t want to be yelling over the sound of rattling and vibrations while you roadtrip across the country, nor do you want to hear every passerby’s conversation while stealth camping in a city.
After over 5 years on the road in a DIY short school bus (with a crazy load engine) and a self-converted 4×4 Sprinter van, I wouldn’t want to travel in a van without sound deadener. From the moment I installed KilMat on those rattling metal walls, I could finally enjoy the road without the noise.
Before you insulate, frame, and start building your tiny home on wheels, this step will help lay a quiet, peaceful foundation inside your van. Sound deadener reduces road noise, vibration, and temperature fluctuations inside your van. It is one of the very first steps you should take to transform a van from bare metal walls into a cozy home on wheels.
Here is everything you need to know about choosing and installing the best van sound deadener.
Why Is Sound Deadening Important in a Van?
Sound deadening is crucial for insulating your van from excessive noise and temperature fluctuations. It works by suppressing vibrations in the metal walls, particularly when bumpy roads or a noisy engine causes noise to travel through the van chassis. All sound deadening materials absorb or disperse sound waves to stop noise from passing into the interior.
The 4 main functions of sound deadening in a van conversion include:
- Reducing Road Noise: Sound deadening materials stop noise and vibration from the road, which is especially important if you plan to take your van into national parks, forests, or other off-road adventures. Without sound deadening, your van’s interior will be much noisier as road noise, engine noise, and vibrations from the road surface will penetrate the cabin more easily.
- Temperature Regulation: Sound deadening materials are installed directly on the van walls before adding insulation. While they cannot act as insulation on their own, they do help regulate temperature so it’s cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- Improved Audio: Many sound deadeners are used in recording studio settings because they improve musical quality and prevent echoing. If you plan to install a sound system in your van, sound deadening can make your listening experience more enjoyable and help you better hear hands-free devices like Bluetooth phone calls while driving.
- Quieter Sleeping and More Privacy: When you are parked and camping in your van, sound deadener adds another layer of protection from the outside world. People are less likely to hear you talking or moving inside, and you won’t hear as much outside noise. This makes a huge difference if you want to urban stealth camp.
Top 5 Best Sound Deadening Products for Van Conversions
From race cars to recording studios to rail cars, sound deadener is used in many applications to create a quieter space. To help you narrow down the best sound dampening product for your van, we’ve carefully reviewed the top products on the market based on quality, ease of installation, and long-term performance.
Best Overall: Kilmat Butyl Automotive Sound Deadener
This is the most popular and DIY-friendly sound deadener used by van lifers because it is affordable, functional, and easy to install. Kilmat is a trusted brand that offers a range of butyl rubber sound-dampening products used in sports cars and RVs. Studies show that butyl rubber is one of the most effective options for reducing vibration and loudness.
The 80 mil butyl and foil material has an easy peel-and-stick application that only requires a sharp knife or scissors, and a metal roller. We love that the sheets include a special embossing on the foil so you can be sure that your roller has correctly sealed and installed it on the metal walls.
- Individual sheets are easy to work with
- Thick butyl and foil material
- Easy to install with a metal roller
- Little to no odor
- Butyl rubber becomes sticky and hard to handle when hot
- Roller not included
Most Durable: FatMat Self-Adhesive Rattletrap Bulk Pack Kit
FatMat is known for its easy installation and durability. The rubberized aluminum is so effective at stopping road vibrations that it is used in drag racing! The heat-resistant aluminum coating and patented “super stick” adhesive make for a streamlined install and long-lasting sound control.
- One roll can cover most vans
- Available in different square footages
- Easy to cover ribbed or awkwardly shaped areas
- Easy to cut
- Super sticky adhesive
- Big roll can be more difficult to handle compared to sheets
- Not heat-blocking
- Strong odor after installation
Highest Quality: Dynamat Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener
Dynamat’s Xtreme sound deadener is popular amongst van lifers because it is only 0.06” thick and includes the adhesive on the back of the roll. This higher-end option is more expensive than other brands, but reportedly has the highest quality vibration reduction.
This mat is a lightweight thermal insulator that has some heat-blocking properties and prevents thermal bridging (when cold or hot air moves from the van’s exterior through the metal ribs). Combine this product with Dynaliner for extra heat-blocking.
- Self-adhesive sheets
- Easy to install
- Blocks heat
- Easy to combine with other Dynamat products for more thermal insulation
- Roller included (it’s essential to roll out the material to prevent air bubbles)
- Most expensive
- No roller markings
Best Lightweight Option: Noico 80 Mil Sound Deadening Mat
Noico is another popular brand well-received by the van life community. The 80 mil butyl sheets help dampen noise and are surprisingly lightweight, at just 0.7 pounds per square foot. The butyl material and asphalt undercoating can create an unpleasant smell, but the noise blocking is superior to other brands. If you’re concerned about weight, Noico is the brand for you!
- Lightest weight material
- Easy to install sheets
- Denser than Dynamat
- Moderate affordable price point
- Strong smell
- Need protection gloves when installing
- Roller not included
Best Insulation and Sound Deadener Combo: Havelock Wool Insulation
Havelock Wool’s sheep wool batts are the leading eco-friendly insulation for van lifers that dual-functions as a sound deadener. Wool naturally wicks away moisture and dampens sound for a moderated and quiet indoor environment. It even purifies the air inside your van!
The wool is pristinely clean, naturally pest-free, and flame resistant. It significantly cuts out exterior noise and buffers against temperature extremes. If you want insulation and sound deadening in one package, this is the way to go!
- Highest R-value (R7 insulation capacity)
- Buffers temperature and sound at the same time
- All-natural, 100% eco-friendly, and non-toxic
- Easy to install
- More expensive than other options but includes an all-in-one solution
- Requires stuffing, wall framing, or other attachment method (no adhesive included)
How to Install Sound Deadener in Your Van Conversion
Almost every sound deadening sheet or roll product has the same installation process. It’s best to do the install on a mild day (not too cold, not too hot) before you have added any insulation or framing to your van. If you choose a wool insulation/sound-deadener combo, this process will not apply.
- Adhesive sound deadener material
- Utility knife or scissors
- Metal roller
- Clean cloth and isopropyl alcohol
- Measuring tape (optional, for cutting awkward areas)
- Preparation: Clear out the entire van interior and remove any trim panels or adhesives remaining on the walls.
- Clean the Surface: Thoroughly clean all metal surfaces where you plan to apply the sound deadener. Use isopropyl alcohol and a cloth to remove any residue. This ensures proper adhesion.
- Plan Application: Decide which areas you want to be sound-proof. Some people alternate sound deadening material across panels (leaving space between sheets), while others cover every square inch of exposed metal. Whatever you choose, prioritize the wheel wells, floor, door, walls, and ceiling for the quietest ride.
- Cut the Material: If using a roll, measure and cut the material in advance before removing the adhesive backing. If using a utility knife, make sure you cut on a hard surface like concrete or scrap wood.
- Peel and Stick: Remove the backing from the sound deadener and stick it on the clean surfaces. Start from the top corner and firmly press your hands across to prevent air bubbles.
- Roll It Out: Use your metal roller to smooth out the material and firmly attach it to the metal. Apply moderate pressure as you roll. Use the roller in several directions to remove air bubbles and flatten the material against the metal. Brands like Kilmat have a nice gridded texture that tells you when you’ve properly rolled it out.
- Check the Seams: If using the full-coverage method, slightly overlap the edges of each sheet to prevent gaps. Check all the seams and corners to make sure the material is properly secured.
Once sound deadening is complete, you can move on to the insulation process and enjoy a more peaceful van interior.
Key Takeaways: Sound Deadener Creates a Quieter Van
In summary, sound deadening materials stop road rattling and noise from disrupting your driving experience and camping comfort in a van. While not absolutely essential, they can greatly enhance your van conversion and contribute to its long-term value. For the best performance, be sure you cover high-noise areas like the floor, walls, ceiling, doors, and wheel wells.