DIY Fold Down Attic Stair Insulation

Fold down attic stairs often don’t seal well and aren’t insulated, resulting in increased heating and cooling bills for your home. Watch this video for an inexpensive, DIY way to insulate attic stairs and make your home more energy efficient.

To insulate fold down attic stairs:

  1. Measure the size and height of the stairs from the attic.
  2. Cut sides and top from sheets of 3/4″ foam board with a utility knife.
  3. Assemble the sides of the box with metallic duct tape.
  4. Position the box over the stair opening in the attic.
  5. Attach the foam box to the floor with metallic tape.
  6. Hinge the lid to the box on one side with metallic tape.

For step-by-step instructions on this project, check out our article on How to Insulate Attic Drop Down Access Stairs.

Further Information


A fold down attic staircase, like the one I’m standing on here, is really convenient, because they allow easy access into the attic, but they’re also great energy wasters. That’s because the floor of the attic is always insulated really well, but when you close the attic, all you have is a quarter-inch plywood panel to prevent the air from coming up into the attic. So to solve that problem, I built a box out of three-quarter-inch insulation board – this is polystyrene insulation board.

What you need to do first is get up in the attic and have someone close the staircase. Then measure all around the staircase and the height of the staircase. Then you just cut the styrene with a razor knife to fit. Now, to hold the pieces of styrene together, what I use is metallic duct tape – not regular cloth duct tape, but the metallic duct tape works great.

Then just tape it right down to the deck, Now you can buy readymade units that go over the attic, but they cost about two hundred bucks. Now, this one – for less than twenty dollars – works just as well.


  1. Gee that top edge looked rough. I think you could do better in showing how to get a tighter seal on the door edge. Adding some adhesive foam tape and maybe a little weight on the edges to help push it down. You also could wrap a batt of insulation in some plastic and attach to the lid to give weight and higher R-value.

  2. Hey Mark, Yes, there are several ways to upgrade and improve this tip. Installing self-stick foam weatherstripping around the polystyrene door would help. But remember, these are “simple” solutions–shown in about 60 seconds–so they’re often less complicated and sophisticated than standard remodeling projects. Thanks for writing.–Joe T.

  3. Hi Danny,
    Just wanted to thank you for this info. It looks simple enough that even I can do it. Anyway, again thanks for your time and energy in making all your videos. Know you are appreciated.

  4. You have to be kidding me. That foam core would break the first time that I try to bring my Christmas tree down. Far to flimsy to be practical.

  5. And it does not meet fire code. Foamboard like this MUST be covered by plywood, sheetrock, tile, etc. to meet code. Check the Owens-Corning website or Home Deopt comments on this product. People ask if it can be used for this purpose and OC says “no since it would not meet fire code”.

  6. I need a way to lower my heavy metal garage attic stairs by myself. Has anyone made a device to do that? It is too high and too heavy for me . I really don’t to die trying.

    Could I get some ideas please?

  7. Are you kidding? That’ll get destroyed within a year, and there’s no seal around the top so air will still leak. You should cover the insulation with plywood, add some weather stripping as the base so it’ll seal better, add a handle or two on in the inside, then make it turn on its side using a hinge. The weight will hold it down for a seal.

  8. It broke when you grabbed it! Did no one hear the Pop! ?
    I’m with Jamie above.
    Do the same thing with plywood, some serious hinges and long dowel for a handle and the same insulation on the inside.
    cheers, and good luck, all. nelson wells, athens, georgia


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