Asked on Dec 15, 2013

Insulation for pull-down attic steps?

Holly R
by Holly R
The insulation that the builders put on our pull-down attic steps was a ridiculous solution IMO and I've been nagging my husband for years to fix it. However that hasn't happened and they currently look like this. Not only does it make a huge mess when small bits and pieces end up on the hallway carpet below, I feel it's a very dangerous liability and I can't imagine how much heat/AC is escaping every cold/warm season. What solutions should I consider? It's likely I'll have to do this project on my own and my skill level is slightly above beginner but I can follow directions. Thanks!!
This insulation is clearly not working. What should we do instead?
  20 answers
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Dec 15, 2013
    I recently had the zippered bags installed as you enter the attic, I did it when I had the insulation installed along w/radiant barrier. But you can get your husband get those zippered bags at Lowes, etc, and installed them yourselves. The draftiness is no longer and it seals it in. Our pulled down stairs look like yours, but we didn't have the insulation on the steps.
  • Carol Carol on Dec 16, 2013
    You might try the foam sheets of insulation come 4'X8' and are easily cut to size with a box cutter, You could cut pieces to fit between the runners of the ladder and along the side. You could even cut a large piece to lay over the opening (putting it in place over your head as you go down the ladder) it's very light weight.
  • Starla Swanson Starla Swanson on Dec 16, 2013
    Foam insulation will definitely help. I would highly recommend putting a weather strip along the framed edge where the lid shuts. It's like having a drafty front door... Our attic stairs came insulated, with weather stripping. It's not thick insulation, but it works. No condensation or draft. It wasn't cheap, but so worth it.
  • Cindi Cindi on Dec 16, 2013
    I would try to staple material, tight up against the inside of each step, as a back to cover the insulation, using colorful colors, it would hide the insulation and look cute
  • Amy Merriam Amy Merriam on Dec 16, 2013
    They sell kits for this exact purpose. The kit has a "gasket" that goes around the opening and it creates a tight seal when the stairs are closed. You can do it yourself by edging the door and the opening with adhesive weather striping, but they don't stick very well on bare wood. (I know....I tried!)
  • Sherry Sherry on Dec 16, 2013
    Hi I feel for ya hun. When I was on my own and asked friends to help me do things it would have never happened if I had waited. So I learned along time ago to get something done ya have to do it your self. So I learned many different trades. What ya need to do is go to Lowes and buy one sheet from the looks of your photo Insulfoam R-Tech 1-in x 4-ft x 8-ft Expanded Polystyrene Insulated Sheet. Once ya return home all ya have to do is measure and cut to size, and place it your self. This is what we woman have to do when the man of the house keeps putting off jobs or things that need to be done. Just do it your self it will make you feel better plus ya will learn a new trade other then cooking, house cleaning, doing laundry and what not ever. This way if anything was to happen to your better half, like hospitalization, you can fend for your self and not have to pay someone else to do it for ya. Hope this helps. Good luck.
  • Nita M Nita M on Dec 17, 2013
    Home Depot sells something just for that purpose. it is a tent that is made of insulation you just open it up over the hole. it blocks heat or cold from coming through. and my attic steps have the insulated foam. but I feel you could just get the attic tent and it will take care of your problem.
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Dec 17, 2013
    I bought mine on Amazon after pricing them. It's a cover that fits over the opening like a little tent. It's our first try with this, although friends have recommended it.
  • Vicki Vicki on Dec 17, 2013
    hired weatherization to put a box without bottom to cover the top attic but pain in neck to push it over to go in the attic. thanks for those tips.
  • Debbie Harris Debbie Harris on Dec 17, 2013
    Use an insulation blanket, it's kind of like the ironing board blankets you put on top of counters or appliances but it's for pull downs. It snaps into place and all you need is a screw driver to install the snaps into place on the casing of the stairs.
  • Melissa W Melissa W on Sep 14, 2014
    I would get the planks used for garage doors. Just cut them to fit. They are thin so this would allow you for footing on the steps. Then get a gasket for around the opening. I would say any weathering door gasket with tack backing would work.
  • Suzanne Ciesliga Suzanne Ciesliga on Feb 14, 2015
    "R- 50 Attic pull down stair attic cover" available through Amazon.
  • Bonnie Bonnie on Feb 14, 2015
    I bought the thickest Styrofoam 4 x 8 Installation sheet and I have that on top of the stairs and just slide it when I want to get into the attic. What a difference it made. My old house I had an actual attic stair cover that zippered and covered the stairs I so wish I had taken that with me back then they were very expensive but very well made now they have them but they are not as expensive and with that not very well made!!
  • Cynthia Freeney Cynthia Freeney on Feb 24, 2015
    Fiberglass batts are only effective if snugly fit within the cavities, fluff and thick enough to provide adequate R-Value. That installation is insuficcient and has gaps all around. Chances are that the heated air from your living area is leaking right through, Here's something we've been using with good results with
  • Eric Smith Eric Smith on Jun 12, 2015
    As a building and Energy Cinsultant this is from testing and experience: Never put anything on the stairs itself. 1st - it voids any safety guarantee. 2nd - it takes away footing space and it makes for a dangerous climb. 3rd - their are several items on line you can buy that will actually work very well. The easiest and most cost effective is called the "Attic Tent". Easy to install and works great. It's not always about R-Value it's more important to consider "Air Seal".
  • Gail Gail on Jul 05, 2015
    We did the same as bonnie above Just put thick Styrofoam over the top in the attic easily slides out of way when going up stairs and nothing on the steps to make you fall.
  • Michelle Michelle on Jul 11, 2015
    I have an insulation tent that covers the opening at the top. Owens-Corning 541799 R-10 Attic Stairway Insulator, for Openings Up To 24.5 by 54-Inch
  • Holly R Holly R on Jul 11, 2015
    I guess I forgot to mark this question as resolved. Thank you everyone for your replies! Here is a photo of what I ended up doing (about a year ago, actually)!
    • See 1 previous
    • David Keller David Keller on Jun 16, 2020

      Did you get one piece to fit under the ladder rungs

  • Tara Kotry Tara Kotry on Jul 19, 2015
    Try using a piece of syrofoam insulation. You can cut it to the exact size if necessary and use glue to tack the corners. But if cut well should fit very snugly in each section.