Vans are noisy vehicles from the factory which enhance road noise. This post looks at applying sound deadening to stop this from happening. Modern vehicles have ever thinner panelling, so from the factory car manufacturers fit sound deadening to stop these thin panels from acting as a speaker and keep noise levels to a minimum. Unfortunately, vans don’t come with this; they’re simple utilitarian vehicles, so when converting one this needs to be applied before insulating as the sound deadening needs to be applied directly to the metalwork.
Sound deadening is a whole new world of Internet forum debates and arguments about what actually works, and what doesn’t. The most common brand of sound deadening people seem to go for is Dynamat. After doing some fairly comprehensive research the impression I ended up with is Silent Coat works just as well, but for half the price. With this in mind, I ordered two bulk 30-sheet packs for £40 each from The Sound Deadening Shop.
Silent Coat sticks directly the bodywork on the inside of the vehicle and turns panel movement into heat, essentially deadening the sound by removing energy and vibrations from the panel. The result is a quieter vehicle which is more car-like to drive. On top of this, the insulation should help soak up whatever ambient noise is leftover afterwards — but that’ll come later.
Sound deadening works by adding mass to panels which helps stop them reverberating every time something moves or vibrates, as well as using an active agent to help convert movement into heat and stop any movement that does happen faster. Cars, unlike vans, come with this applied from the factory which is part of what helps make your car quite to drive. With vans, if you want this, you need to apply it yourself.
Applying to sound deadening was very easy. It cuts easily with a Stanley knife to reduce the sheets into the size you need, and it’s then a case of removing the trim covering the sides of the vehicles and de-greasing the panel to remove any dirt. Application of the deadening is a simple case of peeling the back off it, sticking it on, and going over it with a roller to ensure a good contact. Most people advise to aim for around 50% coverage on each panel, but in my case, I had more than I actually needed in two boxes, so I probably got closer to 75% coverage.
Applying the deadening in the wheel arches was a bit more involved – it requires jacking the vehicle up, removing the wheel and the wheel arch trim before a big cleanup effort (it’s pretty mining behind there) before applying the sound deadening in smaller pieces about 1/4 of the size of a full sheet. The first wheel arch took me around three hours to complete, most of that time spent wrestle the wheel off. The second one took me around 90-minutes to complete.
With the sound deadening applied it transforms the interior during driving, significantly reducing the amount of noise generated by the side panels. Driving down rough roads now makes you realise just how loud most vans are. This is a process I’d recommend doing as early as possible to any van owner.