How To Insulate Your Car The Right Way

Thermo Tec’s Sound Deadening Insulation Keeps The Heat & Noise Away

By Taylor Kempkes   –   Photography & Videography By the Author

Part of the experience when it comes to driving a hot rod is the feeling of being transported back to an earlier era. Sitting on a bench seat looking out the windshield over an all-steel dash and hearing the mechanical rumblings of a V8 engine drowns out reality. Unfortunately, there are other aspects of cars from this vintage that are less enjoyable. There is a way around the “uncomfortable zone” and it is a simple matter of the installation of heat and sound deadening material, such as Thermo Tec products.

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The sandal-searing heat radiating from the firewall, tin can–like rattles emitting from every corner, or the inability to carry on a conversation with your passenger at speeds over 55 is something that we can truly do without. Though some might appreciate that last one, in general, driving a hot rod is much more gratifying when these less-desirable qualities are mitigated.

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02 You must clean the surfaces thoroughly before attaching the material via its adhesive background
The first step may prove to be the hardest and least desirable adventure. You must clean the surfaces thoroughly before attaching the material via its adhesive background. Six months from now you don’t want your beautiful heat and sound-deadening project to come apart.

So, what is one to do? If the government’s attempts to cool the climate are still leaving you baking in the summer sun and you’ve replaced every broken trim piece and tightened every fastener, the next logical step is installing sound-deadening insulation.

03 Six months from now you don’t want your beautiful heat and sound deadening project to come apart

Having learned from past experiences, we didn’t wait until our ‘55 Chevy Wagon was a finished build before deciding whether it needed sound-deadening insulation. Our goal with this Tri Five Chevy is to keep that weathered look on the outside but build it from the ground up to be driven. We want this ’55 to be ready for anything we throw at it. It must be fun and reliable enough to hop in on any day of the week to make a parts run, yet comfortable enough to log hundreds of highway miles. With that in mind, proper sound deadening and heat protection is a must.

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04 To minimize wasted material and keep a cohesive look Fernandez started by measuring out some of the larger sections of the floor first
To minimize wasted material and keep a cohesive look, Fernandez started by measuring out some of the larger sections of the floor first.

With a new-to-us roof burned into place (Modern Rodding July 2022) and a bare shell to work with, we decided now was the best time to call up the insulation specialists at Thermo Tec. We were recommended Thermo Tec’s Suppressor Acoustical and Heat Control Mat to cover our expansive floor pan and doors and then Thermo Tec Guard FR Heat-Sound Insulation for the long roof.

05 With measurements taken he rolled out some of the Suppressor mat made his marks and cut what he needed using a razor blade with a straightedge
With measurements taken he rolled out some of the Suppressor mat, made his marks, and cut what he needed using a razor blade with a straightedge.

Suppressor is available in plenty of size variations, from 12×12-inch squares all the way up to 36 inches wide by 33-1/2 feet long rolls. This 70-mil-thick mat is a dense polyethylene film that can be formed to most surfaces to really soak up noise and vibration. Its reflective foil surface also works to protect against radiant heat up to 2,000-degrees F. We also appreciate the ease with which it can be installed. With these huge sheets, we can just cut whatever size piece we need and stick it in place with the high-temp adhesive backing. More on all this a bit later.

06 They used a 2 inch roller from Thermo Tec to help form the insulation to the floor of the ’55 Chevy
Once the film is removed, the adhesive backing will stick without any additional adhesive needed. They used a 2-inch roller from Thermo Tec to help form the insulation to the floor of the ’55 Chevy.

Not wanting to make the wagon “top heavy” and respond like a ship on heavy seas, we wanted to keep added weight on the roof to a minimum. With that in mind, we would be using Thermo Tec Guard FR. It’s a lightweight synthetic fiber felt with an added high-tech foil heat barrier. The Thermo Tec Guard FR is only 1/4-inch thick yet blocks more than 90 percent of radiant heat up to 1,500 degrees. We also ordered a 2-inch mat roller, heavy-duty spray adhesive, and some silver seam tape from Thermo Tec to get the job done.

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07 In our case it was around 40 degrees F in the shop so the guys needed to use a little heat to activate the adhesive backing
In most cases, firm pressure from a roller is all it takes to adhere to the Suppressor. In our case, it was around 40 degrees F in the shop, so the guys needed to use a little heat to activate the adhesive backing.

While this could easily be a one-man job, Jason Scudellari enlisted some help from Luis Fernandez to speed up the install in our ITGM Tech Center. But before laying any insulation, Fernandez spent a couple hours getting the floors and roof squeaky clean. If you’ve been around project cars long enough, it goes without saying that you need a clean surface if you want to apply any sort of coating. Whether it be paint or a self-adherent insulation, if the surface you’re working on is dirty, stuff won’t stick. With the cleaning done Scudellari and Fernandez got to work laying the Thermo Tec products, starting with the Suppressor. MR

08 To fill those smaller sections under the rear seat and next to the door sills the guys measured and cut smaller strips
To fill those smaller sections under the rear seat and next to the door sills, the guys measured and cut smaller strips.
09 The seam tape is perfect for cleaning up cut lines or conjoining pieces of the Suppressor
The seam tape is perfect for cleaning up cut lines or conjoining pieces of the Suppressor.
10 To help form the mat into grooves in the floor or tighter corners you can use the wooden end of the roller tool
To help form the mat into grooves in the floor or tighter corners, you can use the wooden end of the roller tool.
11 Laying another large sheet over the transmission tunnel they started by marking the center line and slightly overlapping the rear piece of insulation
Laying another large sheet over the transmission tunnel, they started by marking the center line and slightly overlapping the rear piece of insulation.
12 Then they made a cut halfway down the center to relieve excess material and help the mat lay flat
The guys worked from the center outward and back to the front. Then, they made a cut halfway down the center to relieve excess material and help the mat lay flat.
13 On the firewall Fernandez made minimal cuts for the high beam switch and parking brake cable
On the firewall, Fernandez made minimal cuts for the high beam switch and parking brake cable. He would go back later with seam tape to clean up the cut lines.
14 Insulating the door skins is arguably the most challenging task but if you take your time it’s not too tough
Insulating the door skins is arguably the most challenging task, but if you take your time it’s not too tough. The first step is removing the access panels.
15 The guys found quite a bit of old insulation still stuck to the inside of the door skin so it had to be scraped off
The guys found quite a bit of old insulation still stuck to the inside of the door skin, so it had to be scraped off and wiped clean before applying the new Thermo Tec insulation.
16 You’re never going to get a full sized piece of Suppressor into the door through the small access panels
You’re never going to get a full sized piece of Suppressor into the door through the small access panels. Here, Fernandez cut thinner strips and fed them into position.
17 Use the roller to press the mat into the door skin doing your best to reach all the edges of the insulation
Use the roller to press the mat into the door skin, doing your best to reach all the edges of the insulation.
18 An adhesive is needed for the lightweight Thermo Tec Guard FR insulation so they used Thermo Tec’s Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive
With all four doors insulated, the guys moved onto the roof. An adhesive is needed for the lightweight Thermo Tec Guard FR insulation, so they used Thermo Tec’s Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive on both the roof and the back side of the insulation.
19 Fernandez laid down large pieces of cardboard to catch any sticky residue that didn’t make it to the roof
To protect our freshly insulated floors, Fernandez laid down large pieces of cardboard to catch any sticky residue that didn’t make it to the roof.
20 Large pieces of Thermo Tec Guard was measured and cut to fit between the roof supports
Large pieces of Thermo Tec Guard was measured and cut to fit between the roof supports, then a 2-inch roller was used to make sure it fully adhered.
21 Having high tech foil coating on both sides will be great for keeping the summer heat out and the cool air conditioned air in
Having high-tech foil coating on both sides will be great for keeping the summer heat out and the cool, air-conditioned air in.

Tech Center updated 1

Source
Thermo Tec
(800) 274-8437
thermotec.com

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of How to Insulate Your Car.

mr aug 2023

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