What is an Attic Stair Cover?

Autumn Rivers

An attic stair cover comes in handy for anyone wanting to conserve energy. Air often leaks into an attic through the opening where the stairs are located, wasting money. Attics are often described as a hole in the house through which plenty of air leaks, so covering that space properly can save both money and the environment.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Covers for the attic steps are typically flame resistant and generally safe to have in the house. The cover's job is to stop heat from rising into the attic, capturing it before it leaves the house. This simple action often can cut a homeowner's energy bill nearly in half.

One type of attic stair cover is an insulated box that covers the opening around the attic steps. It is insulated with foam and foil, both of which are energy efficient materials. Although it rests on the attic floor, in order for it to work best the sides and bottom of the box generally need to be enclosed with sealing strips. To maintain the use of the stairway, the box comes with a removable cover that can be lifted up to gain access to the room. This type of attic stair cover typically can be purchased at a home improvement store or made at home.

The other common type of cover is the attic tent. As opposed to the insulated box, it is made of soft material, much like cloth. A homeowner can use caulk and staples to attach the material to the framework around the attic staircase. To make it easy to access the opening, the tent has a zipper that can be opened to get up and down the stairs, and be closed when not in use.

Usually, most hardware stores carry at least one type of attic stair cover. Homeowners who choose to build their own can usually do so quite easily with the right materials. For example, the insulated box requires foam board, construction adhesive, roofing nails, and weather stripping. A roll of insulation is also recommended for extra energy savings.

An attic stair cover might exist to save energy, but it has other uses as well. Because it covers the attic opening, it can reduce the chance that rodents and insects will enter the house through the slight opening near the staircase. Additionally, it can thwart the moisture, dust, and dirt that typically thrive in attics. A simple covering is quite inexpensive considering how much it helps.

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