Stop Losing Heat! Insulate and Air-Seal Your Drop-Down Attic Stairs!

Most homeowners have a love-hate relationship with their attics. They love the extra storage that an attic can allot, but hate the draft and heat loss that come packaged standard with the extra space. Lucky for you, stopping that draft and saving some serious cash on your heating bill is as simple as can be! If you happen to be outside the US, then you are still on luck as contractors for these jobs are pretty easy to find if you ever felt that having a professional is the best decision. For those in the UK, Quote Check has a list of the best experienced contractors out there.

If you need to insulate your entire attic, then be sure to read our blog: Insulating Your Attic!

Step 1 – Air-Sealing the Trim

Most drop-down stairs are covered on the bottom by a thin piece of plywood; not very good for insulation! Before we can get to fixing the entire hatch, however, let’s close the cracks around the hatch itself.

To do this, start by carefully pulling down the finish trim. (Pray that the installer used finish nails and not, say, ring-shank nails.) Set aside the trim and, using caulk for smaller gaps (less than 1/4″) or foam sealant for larger ones, seal the gap between the attic hatch framing and the rough cut drywall. (I have to be just a shade vague there, as the drywall can either butt up against the hatch frame or lap over it).

Apply a bead of caulk on the inside and outside edges of the trim, and then reattach it.

Step 2 – Insulating the Door

Buying an insulated box for your attic door is something that could run you upwards of $200, so why not just make it for about $30?

What you’re going to need:

  • 1 – ¾” x 4’ x 8’ sheet rigid foam board
  • 1 – 2” x 30’ roll foil duct tape
  • 2 – ¾” x 17’ roll foam tape weather stripping
  • 1 – tube caulking (optional)

Use a measuring tape to measure the width and length of the door hatch. After that, measure how high the stairs protrude above the opening, adding about 2 inches for padding.

With these measurements the foam into the 4 walls and the top of your box. After cutting one side of the foam, flip the insulation and bend it before cutting again. This will make sure your cuts are nice and clean. Join the corners with foil tape, and use the caulking along the inner seams to get a sealed finish.

Put the top piece on your sides, and join one long edge to the box with foil tape. Apply 5 vertical strips along the joined edge followed by several long horizontal strips to join it completely. This will act like a hinge and allow your door to swing freely.

Clean and wash the floor around the attic door. Place your constructed box in place and begin to tape it down to the floor. Use foil tape along the entire edge to hold it in place. Apply a bead of caulk around the entire inner edge to help seal it entirely.

Close the lid on your way out and you’re done!

Wrap Up

This simple box was cheap, easy to build, and will be effective for years! If you have any questions about how well this will work for your home, or simply need the materials to get started, then visit any of our Koopman Lumber locations! Thanks for reading!

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