How to Insulate Your Attic Opening

A little girl lifting up an old attic door.

Drop-down attic stairs are a neat and tidy way to gain access to your attic without needing a permanent stairway. Attic stairs are also a great source of lost heat because they are not very well insulated. One of the best ways to insulate your attic stairs is to build a box around them.

Measure the Opening to the Attic

Your attic stairs are installed in a wooden frame that goes around them and the attic hatch opening when they are folded. Measure the length and width of this frame.

Calculate the Height

You are going build a frame which must be high enough to allow the folded, attic stairs to be contained within it, so measure how much higher the folded stairs are than the wooden frame.

Obtain the Timber Needed

From the measurements you have made, order 4 pieces of timber as wide as the height calculated in Step 2. Get 2 of them to match the length of the frame and 2 of them to match the width of the frame. Ideally these 4 pieces should be the same thickness as the frame timber.

Start the Box

In the attic, make a rectangular frame by nailing the 4 long pieces of timber together.

Build Up the Frame

Apply either adhesive or double-sided tape to the top edge of the attic stair frame and position the frame you have just made precisely over the stair frame. If you have measured correctly, you have now extended the stair frame upwards. Make sure that the 2 frames are in contact all the way around.

Prepare the New Hatch Cover

Take a piece of timber the same size as the ladder frame and connect it to either side of the new frame, using hinges. Attach the hinges on a side where there is something to stop the new hatch cover from falling to the floor. For safety's sake, it is best to have someone to help you at this point.

Test the Construction

You should be able to open and close the new hatch cover quite easily. If there is nothing to stop the cover from falling to the floor when it is opened, it would be a good idea to fit a restraining chain to it. It would also be good to apply a strip of insulating tape around the top of the frame.


You haven't made your attic stairs any more difficult to use, but now they're insulated, and you should see immediate improvements in your home's energy efficiency.