What Is an Insulated Loft Hatch?

Tracey Sandilands

A loft hatch is the covering of the access route into a home loft or attic from the main house. The loft interior may be used for storage or as a bedroom, study or playroom, depending on its size. An insulated loft hatch is a secure cover that prevents air in the home from escaping into the loft, leading to heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. The loft hatch may be a basic vertical door or horizontal hatch that simply latches closed, or it may be attached to pull-down attic stairs or an attic knee-wall door.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Loft living is common, especially in homes where teenage children want their own room or where space is at a premium. Many different types of loft hatches can be insulated to prevent the free flow of air between the loft apartment and the rest of the home, or the homeowner can install a DIY insulated loft hatch that fits perfectly. Loft hatches can be vertical, resembling doors, or they can be horizontal and secured in the floor of the attic loft.

A basic hatch can be turned into an insulated loft hatch by installing weather stripping on the edges of the hatch, or the frame where the hatch makes contact. Installation of a bolt to latch the hatch securely will also create a tighter seal. Rigid insulation board is suitable for mounting against the flat surface of the hatch, and batt insulation glued to the outside of the insulation board helps to achieve a higher R-factor, or insulation value. If the loft is used as living space, the insulation should be painted or covered over to blend in with the loft decor.

Attic pull-down stairs are a type of ladder that provides access to a loft apartment. To make an insulated loft hatch for pull-down attic stairs, it is necessary to seal the gap around the frame of the stairs. In a small gap of a half-inch wide or less, caulk sealant will be enough to prevent the flow of air between the spaces. For a frame with a poor fit that requires sealing of a larger gap, a non-expanding foam or backer rod should be used with the caulking. Weather stripping or a gasket fastened to the edge of either the frame or the panel will ensure a close fit between the two.

An attic knee-wall door is a wall built to partial height, in which a vertical door into the home loft is located. Used in homes where a finished attic exists, the knee-wall door needs to be weather-stripped and if possible, insulated using rigid foam insulation board against the attic side of the door, to create a well insulated loft hatch. Securing the door with a sturdy latch or bolt will help to achieve a solid seal. Experts recommend insulating and air-sealing the knee wall itself to achieve the highest levels of energy efficiency.

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