A DIY Attic Hatch Option

One of our most popular series on the HTRC is on Air-Sealing& Insulating especially in regards to the attic. For most of us living inthe South we are concerned with keeping the heat from the attic out of ourhomes during the summer. During the winter the issue flips a 180° for those upnorth who want to keep the heat out of the attic & stop a major cause ofice dams. The nice thing about an insulated attic hatch is it performs bothfunctions quite well & helps one Besides the materials below allyou need is a tape measure, a utility knife or saw, and a caulk gun.

For this attic hatch you need:
2" thick foam-board (4×8 sheet) with an R-Value of 10 orgreater (you might need two sheets for larger hatches or to make it thicker)
8 -20' foamweather stripping (the wider the better)
1 can Great Stuff® foam or similar
1 tube Liquid Nail® or other construction adhesive
Misc. hardware & 2 small bungee cords to seal ittight

Getting started – depending on your region & insulationlevels you need to rip the side pieces at 11". For our friends up north thatrequire an R49 in the attic it should be ripped at 15". Make sure you leave thefactory edges for the lid to sit on. Move any insulation in the way gently outof the way & place the side pieces in place.
Attaching the pieces – The end pieces should span the sidepieces unless you are doubling up the foam. Apply Liquid Nail to where thepieces will meet & put them in place. I simply used some 16 penny nailsinserted through the side to help hold everything in place while the glue set. Oncethese panels were in place, I foamed up all the seams any cracks and theadjoining areas. Not only does this stop air leakage but also helps keep everythingin place. On top of this, simply add some self-stick foam insulation to helpensure any imperfections don't allow air-leaks.
The Lid – the lid overlaps the side assembly by about aninch which means you don't have to fidget with it trying to get it justperfect. To help hold it in place, I just used some eye hooks – 2 short ones toattach into the wood & two longer ones for the lid. I also added 2 differentsize washers (a small one that would prevent a larger 1 ½" washer from slippingpast the nut) & some nuts to attach to the lid. Then I simply used a smallbungee cord to help hold the lid down.
A few other quick notes – If you do not wish to create yourown, you might want to check out Battic Door which makes a great product withan R-Value of R50. One other option is foam board with Radiant barrier alreadyintegrated into it – if you go that route it should be facing in towards the interiorof the house for best results. To see the original article with a few more tips& links: http://blog.sls-construction.com/2011/air-sealing-the-attic-hatch
Finished look from the inside
A quick look of the manufacturers edge which will be nice & flat for a tight fit. You couple that with some foam weather-stripping & the hold down below should leave you a fairly air-tight hatch.
It really isn't that difficult to cut or notch around any obstructions. You can easily see how we left the end pieces long to overlap the sides which were attached with Liquid Nail
Doubling up the foam on the sides &/or ends not only increases the assemblies R-Value but adds more rigidity. The piece you see towards the bottom is for a walkway & storage area which had cellulose blown under it
A couple of eye hooks & a few bungee cords helps hold the hatch in place
Picture of the lid in place from above
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2 of 6 comments
  • Mark Tyrol Mark Tyrol on Jul 20, 2013
    Another option is to purchase an attic stair cover kit. Battic Door offers an R-50 attic stair cover kit that installs in a few minutes without any tools and costs less than $100.
    comment photo
  • Good point @Mark Tyrol & I actually did recommend the "hatch" version if you follow the link to my original article - as for that flimsy $100 FG filled cover - I wouldn't waste my money on it nor recommend it - just because something can meet code, doesn't mean it is worth it or a good fit for most