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How To Insulate Pull-Down Attic Stairs


Kathy V. from Baltimore, MD wrote:

Hey Itchy,

My attic access stairs are located in my house. During the winter I can feel cold air coming through. Is there a way to insulate the attic stairs?

Attic access stairs cover a large hole in your ceiling and they need to be insulated. You need to install a attic stair cover. You could buy one if you want to spend up to $250.00. I'll show you how to make one for about $30 to $40.

You need to build a box that will sit on top of the pull down stairs. The first thing you need to do is to get into the attic and measure the size of the opening and the height of the stairs once they are folded and resting on the attic floor. After you make you measurements, add 2 inches to the length, width and height.

Next you'll need to purchase some rigid foam board, reflective foil duct tape and some adhesive weatherstripping to install on the attic stairs. You also need a couple of R-30 or R-38 kraft faced fiberglass batts.

Put on your goggles and dust mask, Using a utility knife cut the four sides based on your measurements. Don't forget to add 2" to all dimensions. These are the walls or sides of your box. Next, cut the large piece that will be the top of the box. Using your reflective duct tape construct a box with the pieces of foam board. Make sure you cover all of the joints so it will be sturdy.




Diagram showing an attic opening accessed through pull-down stairs. Above the stairs in the attic, an attic stair cover box made from rigid insulation is placed over the opening to seal and insulate the stairs. Weatherstripping is shown along the edge of the stair panel that joins with the edge of the frame and reads: Seal gap between frame and rough opening with caulk, backer, rod, or foam. On the attic side, the cover box has a layer of insulation, and the opening is shielded from loose-fill insulation by insulation dams on either side. The caption here reads: Insulation dams prevent loose-fill insulation from falling through access. Cover box pushes up and out of the way for access.

Finally, cut the fiberglass batts to fit the top of the box. Apply some adhesive to the kraft paper side and glue it to the top of the box.

The stairs should be weatherstripped also. Run the adhesive weatherstripping along the edge of the plywood that the stairs are secured to. Make sure to weatherstrip the entire perimeter of the plywood.

Now you have a insulated lightweight box that can be moved and replaced when you need to get into and out of the attic.



Related Tips and Advice:

How To Insulate Garage Walls
How To Install Blown In Insulation In Your Attic
How To Insulate A Concrete Wall
How To Insulate Ducts

Adding A Plywood Attic Floor Over Insulation

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