Pull down attic stair insulation

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New Member
Hearth Supporter
Jan 29, 2009
Lunenburg, Ma
Wasn't sure where I should put this topic so I put it here because I burn with wood. So I am wondering if any of you have any good ideas on how to insulate my pull down attic stairs. Last winter was my first year burning and my upstairs bedrooms didn't get as warm as I was expecting. My insert is located pretty much right across from my stairway leading to the bedrooms and I was figuring that a lot of heat would go upstairs. What I think is happening is the heat is continuing to go up into the attic. The pull down is at the top of the stairs and I remember during last winter going up into the attic and thinking that is was a lot warmer up there then the year before. Would just putting some weather stripping along the edges of the pull down and some insulation above it do the trick? I also saw at Home Depot that they had a styrofoam cover that would cover the opening in the attic. Let me know if you have any ideas or what you have done that has worked and that has not worked.
Try these...


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Had a similar situation with my set up.
Here is what I did....cut a piece of plywood about 3 inches larger than the hole opening on each side. Lined the part in the attic with good insulation that was left over from the house. Then, I took some of that thicker weather stripping, and ran it around the perimiter where the bottom of the plywood met the top of the frame for the attic stairs and made a good seal.
If you got this type stuff lying arond, it might make sense just to try and save some $$ than buying one of those foam covers. good luck
You can make one of those covers yourself using thick rigid foam (double layer) - glue and screw the edges as needed. Then put weather stripping on the edge that sits against the floor of the attic (build out the edge of floor with plywood if necessary). Mine has some velcro straps attached on the ends that I can pull down and attach to help keep a tight seal. It is new this year so I don't know how it will perform for the winter, but it is much cooler in the hatch now than the attic when I head up there during summer days.
I was going to make my own...but ended up just buying the cap from the Depot. Yeah, spending 70/80 bucks on it seemed a little odd, but it fits perfectly and works well. I may need to snug down a few air gaps here and there, but overall, it was worth it.
I used rigid foam insulation plus weatherstrip, as was suggested. But, I found that the thickest foam I could fit was 3/4 inch...and I had to cut it into smaller pieces and reassemble it behind the steps/treads of the ladder.
The good news is that it worked. It has made a noticable difference, and I think that the weatherstrip is the main reason. (Did both at once, so can't say for sure.)

It has lasted a few years now, but if I lived in the colder climate that ya'll have, I might have given more consideration to one of the pre-made box type units.
I built a box out of foam insulation board that sits on the attic floor over the steps. Cost some construction adhesive, one sheet of insulation board, and an hour or so.
Pull down attic stair insulation

Easy to do - caulk and drywall screws to hold it together. The duct tape I used to protect edges and provide more strength fell off with the heat up there.....

Pick the board with the highest r-value you can find - mine has the silver backing to it.
Les Biancat said:
air infiltration is more critical than insulation value i thinx

I weatherstripped as well - the v-shaped stuff - around the door. Also some of the sticky foam around the studs the hatch rests on.

I would say that if you only fixed one, air infiltration is the most important, but you would also lose a lot of heat if you don't have some sort of cover.
My sister was complaing that her son was constantly complaining about the cold and bumping her thermostat up.
He had attic stairs in his bedroom.

I contemplated making my own. but I got one of those foam bath tubs from Home Depot.
Her attic floor wasn't terribly flat so added some flexible foam to the bottom and a perimeter edge to keep it in place.

His room stays toasty warm now.

Amazing how much warm air escapes through those pull down stairs.
Les Biancat said:
air infiltration is more critical than insulation value i thinx
Actually, it is unlikely that you would have infiltration at the attic opening but rather moist warm air leaking out due to stack effect. The infiltration will happen lower down where makeup air leaks in. The moist air leaking out can cause moisture to condense in the insulation degrading it so it is important to weatherstrip it. It would also be prudent to use insulation that doesn't absorb moisture at the attic opening.
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