December Home Maintenance To-Do List

Black attic stairway cover installed in an attic.
An attic tent, or stairway cover, can keep warm air from living spaces out of the attic.

To-Do #3: Insulate Drop Down Attic Stairs

While you’re in the attic, don’t forget the attic stairs! Dropdown attic stairs are notorious for leaking precious heated air into the attic and reducing the energy efficiency of your home.

Attic stair access covers are made of thin plywood, and the construction isn’t very tight, allowing heated air to escape.

There are several ways to insulate attic stairs in your home:

Seal Cracks:

The first step in any attic stair insulation project is to seal any cracks. Small cracks and joints can be sealed with caulk while larger gaps can be filled with expandable spray foam.

Install Weatherstripping:

Another easy solution is to install strips of foam weatherstripping around the opening of the stairs. Cut the strips to fit the opening of your attic stairs, then stick the self-adhesive strips in place where the door meets the frame.

When the door closes against the foam, it’ll create an airtight seal that will cut out a lot of air infiltration.

Build an Insulating Stair Cover:

A more ambitious project is to build an insulating foam board box:

  • Cut four pieces of foam a bit taller than the closed stairs for the sides.
  • Attach the sides together into a box using metallic duct tape
  • Tape the box down to the attic floor.
  • Apply foam weatherstripping to the top of the box.
  • Cut a piece of foam board for the lid.
  • Attach the foam board lid to the box with tape.

Install a Ready-Made Insulating Stair Cover:

You can also buy and install a premade attic stair cover. These covers are made to fit standard sizes of pull-down attic stairs.

Some attic stair covers attach to the floor and are closed and opened with a zipper, while others are positioned over the opening in the attic and lifted off when access to the attic is needed.


  1. Thanks for this info. I had no idea filters had different “sides.” Your site (and TV series) has helped this senior citizen more than you’ll ever know. Please keep up the good work. Merry Christmas!

  2. I have a 1950’s Ranch home with detached garage. There only 3 joists (~20′ – 2×4) in the garage running side to side. Each of them are cracking at knot holes. What is the best way to strengthen/fix (sister another 2×4, or bolt 3″x2″ steel angle and bolt together)??


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