Though static caravans are a wonderful way of having a holiday home they can often lack in certain features, one of which is warmth. As many people still like to be able to away in Winter will find that static caravans are cold and require a lot of additional heating.
The best way to insulate static caravan walls is to remove the panelling from the interior walls and either replacing the insulation with thicker and warmer insulation or adding another layer on top to add more insulation. Alternatively, you can add insulation on top of the existing wood panelling.
In this article we are going to talk about the safety measure of insulating a static caravan, the different types of insulation you can use and how to insulate your static caravan.
Is It Safe To Insulate Static Caravan Walls?
It is completely safe to insulate static caravan walls however you should consider how you are going to insulate them and what insulative material you will use. Choose effective and safe insulation (more on this later) and have a plan on how you will incorporate it into the static caravan’s structure.
Although the act of insulating your caravan is completely safe and beneficial, the process of stripping out and re-insulating can be hazardous.
When stripping out old insulation from a static caravan you may encounter toxic and potentially dangerous materials, depending on the year and model of the mobile home.
Common insulative materials that were used pre-1980 contained fiberglass. Fiberglass insulation was used to fill cavities in order to hold heat inside the caravan. Although fiberglass is relatively harmless, a mask and gloves will be needed if you encounter it.
When fiberglass insulation is handled it releases small glass fibers that if inhaled, will cause irritation to the lungs that can potentially lead to chronic illness. On contact with the skin, fiberglass can cause rashes as it penetrates the skin.
If you come across fiberglass when you are stripping out the caravan make sure to take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself from harm.
Another hazard to look out for if you are renovating an old static caravan is asbestos. Asbestos was used up until the late 1970s and early 80s and is extremely hazardous to your health. When asbestos is broken the tiny fibers that are released into the air are toxic.
When inhaled, the hooked-fibers get trapped in the lung tissue and cannot be naturally removed. The build up of asbestos in the lungs will lead to severe lung problems and potentially cancer.
Although you are not likely to come across asbestos in the insulation of your static caravan, it was commonly used in many building materials before the 80s. Drywall, sealants, and flooring materials may contain asbestos, so take extreme caution if you are renovating an older caravan.
If a large amount of the material is present in your caravan it must be removed and disposed of by professionals. If you can, find out whether asbestos was used in the model you have.
If you can’t find out whether asbestos is present and have a caravan from before 1970 take extreme caution when dismantling walls, ceiling, and flooring to re-insulate. Try to remove panels in one piece without breaking anything and always wear an approved mask that is effective against fine fibers.
Benefits of Insulating Static Caravan Walls
There are many benefits of insulating your static caravan as long as you go about it the right way. If you insulate your caravan effectively you will find that your space holds much more heat for a longer time. This will keep you warmer in the winter months and help keep the heat out in the summer months.
If you are thinking about living in your static caravan full time, then insulating it is absolutely essential. You will spend a lot of money and time heating your caravan during a cold winter if your caravan isn’t well insulated.
The beauty of a static caravan that is on a permanent pitch or your own land, is that you don’t have to worry about saving weight as much as you would a tourer.
Instead of worrying about weight gain, you can install as much insulation as the wall cavity allows. You don’t have to stop there either, as well as your static caravan walls, it is recommended to insulate the roof and floors too.
You can select the best insulation based purely on its R-rating (insulative effectiveness) rather than having to weigh up effectiveness and weight gain.
A well insulated static caravan will also save you money. Whether you are heating your caravan with gas or electric, having a well insulated space to heat will take much less energy.
You will find that once the caravan is up to room temperature, it holds the heat for much longer without leaving the heater on at a high temperature for a long period of time.
If you have a problem with condensation and damp, then insulating your static caravan can help. Installing a breathable insulation will help reduce the buildup of moisture inside the caravan. Natural insulations such as sheep wool are excellent at this however they can be expensive and difficult to install.
If you have a damp problem due to a leak in your static caravan’s body, then insulating will give you the opportunity to locate and fix the leak. Once fixed, you can sterilize and dry the area to prevent mold growth and install your insulation.
A high-quality insulation that is installed well should help to reduce condensation buildup while keeping the heat in. Make sure you do not cover up any vents in the walls with your chosen material though, as ventilation is key to controlling humidity levels regardless of how breathable your insulation is.
Drawbacks Of Insulating Static Caravan Walls
There are not too many drawbacks to insulating your caravan as long as you select the right insulation for your climate. Insulation helps trap heat inside your caravan but it will also keep heat out in the summer months if you select the right material.
No matter your climate, insulating your caravan will benefit you. If you are in colder climates, a heavier insulation such as sheeps wool can be used. If you are in a warmer climate, polystyrene panels will help keep the heat out and the cold air in while keeping you warm if the temperature plummets.
As we said earlier, it doesn’t matter if you go overboard on the insulation if your static caravan is on a permanent pitch. To contradict this statement, if you plan on moving your static caravan every 12 – 24 months for example, then you will have to worry about weight gains.
Although you still will not have to watch weight gain as much as you would with a touring caravan, if you plan on re-pitching every year or two then you will have to ensure your caravan isn’t overweight with the extra insulation you will add.
How To Insulate Static Caravan Walls?
There are many ways to insulate a static caravan but there are a few tried and tested methods to get the best results for year-round living. The type of insulation you chose will ultimately depend on your needs and budget.
1. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass insulation is the most cost effective option but it is not an effective insulation for caravan walls. It is not particularly breathable and it won’t offer the best R-value for the money you will pay.
It can be used in between the joists on the ceiling effectively if you are looking to keep your budget down but it is not advised in this day and age.
If you are on a really tight budget, then of course, fiberglass insulation can still be used. It is still commonly used in the building industry to insulate houses, so it will work to some extent in your static caravan.
If you do decide to use fiberglass insulation, be sure to wear protection when installing it. You should also use a reflective material in conjunction with this insulation to further increase R-value and prevent the walls sweating.
2. Reflective Foil
Reflective foil or “reflectix” provides an excellent barrier from the cold if used correctly. This sticky-back reflective foil cannot be used on its own as insulation but when it is combined with a loose fill or panel insulation it will increase your caravan’s heat-holding capabilities tremendously.
If your budget allows, reflectix should be used on the inside of the exterior walls before you place your insulation of choice in the cavity. The reflective qualities will stop heat escaping through the exterior walls.
In turn, it will also stop hot and cold air from penetrating the exterior walls as easily. This makes the static caravan effective at all times of the year — keeping the heat out in the summer and the cold out in the winter.
3. Natural Insulation
Natural insulation is made from natural resources rather than synthetic fibers such as fiberglass. Sheep wool natural insulation is extremely effective for use in small spaces. It offers excellent insulative value and is highly breathable.
Loose-fill and panel sheep’s wool insulation will absorb water in high humidity and release it in low humidity, controlling the air moisture levels.
Natural insulations such as sheep’s wool are much more user friendly than synthetics. Sheep’s wool can be installed in shorts and a t-shirt because it contains no harmful chemicals or hazardous fibers.
This is a great benefit for installation and living conditions. You can rest assured that the space you will be living in is non toxic and clean.
Sheep’s wool has fantastic air cleaning properties. The wool is a bioaccumulator, meaning it will absorb air pollution and trap it in the fibers. The pollutants are removed from the air completely and eventually they break down in the fibers for good.
This is a great quality to have in small spaces as it reduces air toxicity from heating and cooking elements. The air inside the caravan will be cleaner than the air outside.
Overall, sheeps wool is the perfect organic solution if you are looking for high-quality insulation with great R-value. It is the best option if you are looking to control air quality in both pollutant and humidity aspects. Installing natural sheep wool insulation in your caravan will ensure you have a warm space with clean air and no condensation.
4. Foam Insulation
Foam insulation is most commonly used nowadays. Polystyrene insulation sheets of the appropriate thickness can be placed in the wall cavities for a lightweight solution to your insulation needs. Any gaps created between the panels and hard to fill places can be filled with expanding foam.
This type of synthetic insulation is extremely effective and easy to install. Panels can be easily cut to the appropriate sizes needed and placed inside the wall cavity with ease. This is the easiest material to work with if you are a beginner and are just starting “DIY” in your caravan.
Foam sheet insulation is excellent at keeping the heat in during the winter and heat out during the summer. Some panels come with a reflective sheet adhered to one side of the panel which means you can get the benefits of reflectix and the R-value of the insulation in one material.
It is lightweight, so if you are looking to move your static caravan once every year or two, then this is your best option.