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How To Insulate An Attic Hatch Cover




Wayne P. from San Diego, CA wrote:

Hey Itchy,

I just finished having my attic insulated. The problem is they didn't insulate the attic hatch cover. My attic access cover is made of sheetrock. Got any do it yourself advice?

I run across this issue all the time. Don't you just love it when these guys do such a lame thing. When the attic access is not insulated you lose heat in the winter and gain heat in the summer. An attic access can be a hatch, a knee wall door or a pull down staircase and they all need to be insulated.

In your case you need to remove the attic hatch cover and find a smooth, level surface to lay it on. You'll need a batt of fiberglass insulation or either R-30 or R-38 depending on your climate. You'll also need to apply some weatherstripping tape to the perimeter of the access cover.

The weatherstripping is self-adhesive. Just make sure your access cover is dry and clean before applying it. Press firmly to get it set and make sure each strip meets at the corners so there is no air leakage. Or if you prefer, you can install the weatherstripping directly on top of the trim or base that the attic cover seats on.

Diagram showing a side view of a scuttle hole that allows access to the attic. On either side of the hole in the attic are barriers called insulation dams, blocking loose-fill insulation from reaching the opening. At the point where the removable door touches the ceiling is a small dot labeled the air seal gasket. The scuttle hole is surrounded by trim. On the attic side, the door is covered with insulation, and the diagram shows how the door can be pushed straight up to gain access to the attic space. The captions read: Scuttle hole cover. Insulation dams prevent loose-fill insulation from falling through access. Hatch lid pushes up and out of the way for access.Next you'll need to measure the perimeter of the access cover, less the weatherstripping you just put on it. Place your batt on a flat surface, kraft paper side down and cut it with a utility knife to the appropriate size to fit the scuttle hole cover.

Find a good glue and apply it to the unfinished side of the access cover. Place the fiberglass insulation, paper side down onto the scuttle hole cover and press firmly on all areas where it meets the glue. I would recommend using gloves and wearing protective clothing so you don't actually touch the insulation.

Allow it to dry for a couple of hours. Once it's set it's time to place it back in the attic. This can be a little awkward since you now have 10 to 12 inches of fiberglass batt attached to the cover that you're trying to align through the access hole and set into place. This is where it's okay to cuss or swear if you want to, and if you cuss it good enough it shouldn't take long to have it set back into it's original place.


If you had a drop down attic staircase you would simply purchase a kit from your local home improvement store. Usually you would want to construct a light weight box, place the insulation in it and it rests on top of the pull down attic stairs in the attic.

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.

That's all there is to insulating a access cover.. Hopefully you took my advice and wore protective clothing. If you didn't you might have some fiberglass fibers inside your shirt. Boy howdy, that stuff sure does itch don't it? I know, I've been there many times. If that's the case, give yourself a good scratching, head for the shower and I'll bet you'll remember not to do that fool thing again.

Related Tips and Advice:

How to Insulate an attic with blown in insulation.
How much insulation do I need?
How to soundproof a wall with fiberglass insulation.
How to insulate ducts.
How to seal air leaks in your home.

Photos Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy


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