06 May How to Seal Your Attic Access Door
This article will take approximately 5 minutes to read.
By the end of this article, you will know how to insulate the three most common types of attic accesses. We will also discuss the importance of sealing an attic access and alternatives to ensure a proper seal – even if you are not a do-it-yourself type of person.
Article Table of Contents:
- The Importance of the Attic Access
- How to Seal the Attic Hatch
- How to Seal Attic Pull Down Stairs
- How to Seal Knee Wall Doors
- Other Ways To Improve Your Attic
The Importance Of Your Attic Access
An attic access door covers a small amount of space, but it contains a massive opportunity for energy savings.
According to the Department of Energy, poorly insulated and leaky attics are a significant source of decreased home comfort, wasted energy, and unnecessary costs.
The attic access is an overlooked opportunity for lowered energy bills and a better home environment. So what does it take to make a truly energy efficient attic access?
How to Seal the Attic Hatch
There are a few different ways that an attic hatch can be sealed and insulated. Below, we have included our recommended solution, which takes less time and is more effective overall, as well as alternative solutions.
While there are a variety of ways to seal and insulate an attic hatch, the most effective method is through the installation of an approved attic access cover such as Attic Gator by yellowblue.
Sometimes referred to as a scuttle hole cover, attic access covers are products specifically designed to solve the insulation and sealing problems associated with attic hatches.
Attic hatch covers are easy to install and help keep the air in the attic separate from the air throughout the rest of the home.
Once installed, the attic access cover creates a tight seal around the hatch. The insulating material helps reduce heat transfer between the floor below and the attic. The insulation and sealing opportunities created through attic access covers are unparalleled compared to more do-it-yourself solutions.
While we always recommend an attic access cover for the best results, there are other means to achieving improved attic sealing and insulation.
Should you choose to implement sealant and insulation yourself, here are the primary materials you will need:
- Fiberglass batt insulation
- Rigid foam board
Once you have the appropriate materials, you can start the process of sealing and insulating the attic hatch.
- Install the weather-stripping onto the hatch or on the inside of the trim.
- Cut two pieces of foam board that are about 1/4″ smaller than the hatch.
- Attach the pieces of foam board to themselves and then attach them to the hatch.
- Affix the fiberglass batt insulation to the top of the foam board. Measure the insulation a bit bigger than the hatch, so it creates a seal when shut.
- Make sure the R-value of the foam board insulation and the R-value of the rest of the attic’s insulation are the same.
The process of installing an alternative solution can be difficult for home construction beginners. In general, you will have a higher chance of creating a truly well-insulated and sealed attic environment through an attic access cover.
How to Seal Attic Pull Down Stairs
The right attic access cover can also seal and insulate attic pull down stairs, helping deliver comfort and savings for homeowners.
Attic access covers are often built to fit multiple different kinds of attic accesses. High-quality products such as the Attic Gator provide a number of different attic access cover sizes. This helps accommodate the various kinds of accesses found throughout North America.
In addition to reduced heat transfer and easy installation, attic access covers are also often made of durable materials which account for the wear and tear of an attic access. For those who anticipate a lot of foot traffic throughout the attic, a durable attic access cover is absolutely necessary.
Should you decide to not invest in a full attic access cover, one alternative would be to create your own attic cover box. The cover box works to accomplish the same goal that an attic access cover achieves, albeit with a larger initial time investment and varied results.
If you are more interested in taking the time to construct a cover box yourself, here are the materials you would need:
- Fiberglass batt insulation
- Rigid foam board
- Caulk, if needed
- Weather-stripping or gasket material
Once you have the materials, you can follow these steps to seal the attic pull down stairs:
- Create a box using the foam board.
- Make sure the box fits squarely over the access.
- Affix the fiberglass insulation to the top of the box.
- If the gap is less than 1/2″: use caulk to air seal between the frame and opening.
- If the gap between the frame is greater than 1/2″: use non-expanding foam in addition to caulk.
- Add weather stripping or gasket material to the attic access panel or frame.
To optimize comfort and savings, the attic box you build should be durable enough to withstand opening and closing, provide an air seal, and have an R-value similar to the rest of the insulation in the attic.
In general, we highly recommend a professionally installed attic access cover over a homemade cover box solution. Depending on your experience with construction, insulation, and especially attic insulation/airflow, a homemade cover box is unlikely to provide the same amount of benefit as an approved, purpose-built attic cover.
How to Seal Knee Wall Doors
Many knee wall doors have built-in weather-stripping and insulation. If yours does not include weather-stripping and insulation, sealing the knee wall access door is simple.
What you’ll need:
- Foam insulation
- Spray foam insulation (home-dependent)
Once you have the materials, you can begin to seal and insulate the knee wall access door through these steps:
- From inside the attic, check for any openings, holes, or fenestrations into the knee wall/surrounding area. Use spray foam to air seal these openings if they exist.
- Apply weather-stripping to the door to create a seal. The latch should lay flush against the frame.
- Affix foam insulation to the attic side of the door.
When the attic access is sealed and insulated, heat transfer between conditioned and unconditioned parts of the home is further prevented. This improves energy efficiency and results in lowered heating and cooling costs for homeowners.
Final review of sealing and insulating your attic access
Once the attic access door is sealed and insulated to your preference, it’s important to conduct a final review.
Before you pat yourself on the back, make sure to double check the following criteria:
- Make sure that air leaks in the floor were sealed/fixed before the attic access door improvement was put in place
- Look over all edges, creases, and corners of both the attic overall and the attic access door to make sure nothing was missed or created during the sealing process
- Test the airflow after the insulation/sealing solution was put in place
- If you installed an attic access cover, try moving the cover around/adjusting it with your hands to make sure it is securely in place
- Test out how your insulation/sealing fix behaves once the attic access door/area is put under normal use. Pull down the attic access stairs, walk around near the opening, etc. to see if the insulation solution moves or falls out in any way. If so, reinstall as necessary until the solution is securely in place.
Once the above quality assurance testing is complete — and there are no further errors found — you can consider the attic access door insulation and sealing job complete!
If you are a homeowner who happened to contact a professional to install some of the fixes above, be sure to discuss a follow-up appointment with them.
Learn Other Ways to Improve Your Attic
Attic access sealing and insulation is a great investment — but there are often many other opportunities to save energy and live more comfortably. Consider contacting a trusted attic inspector to inspect your attic further and find opportunities to improve your home’s health.
When you learn about the specific issues in your attic and you know how to fix them, improving your air quality, having better in-house comfort, and saving money becomes easy.