The Great Five-Minute Insulation Project

… I should really say that it’s “the great five-minute project once you get your supplies from the store and spend four weeks looking for the perfect time to get it done.” In my case, it only took one cold day to encourage me to get my drill in motion and patch a troubling spot in our home: the base of the attic door. Truth be told, there are probably 20 other spots in my home that I should be giving insulation attention to… this is just the starting point. If you’re in the mindset of getting your home ready for winter, this project is just a starting point – you can learn much more about insulation tips from DIY Network right here.

The attic’s not insulated, you see. It’s not a finished space, and even though the door is a heavy wood and reasonably insulating from the cooler temps by itself, there were still issues to be addressed, one big one being that there was a significant gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. It’s been there as long as I’ve been in the house, which is 3.5 years, and every year I’ve been bothered by the cold air that floods in (or hot air that flows outward) through this gap.

There's a big space between the floor and the bottom of my attic door. Drafty!

Said gap can be plugged by three children’s books.

There's a big space between the floor and the bottom of my attic door. Drafty!

See? It could be worse, but it is kind of a big space and surely effects my heating bill during the winter. Chances are that if you too have an older home, you might be facing the same issues, so keep reading to learn more about how I stopped the flow of air beneath the attic door.

As I was saying, to fix this problem and eliminate what on cold nights can only be described as an icicle-like draft only takes about 5 minutes with the help of a drill, a hacksaw, and a strip of door sweep from the store. The one shown was about $10 at Lowe’s, and is a simple aluminum and vinyl construction that comes as a 34″ strip but can be cut to length to fit smaller doors.

Add a door sweep to a drafty door.

Start by measuring the width of your door, and transferring the same measurement to the weatherstrip. You won’t want the metal to exceed the width of the door, but sometimes leaving an extra few millimeters on either edge creates a nice seal. Side note: Our door itself needs a good re-painting, and it actually looks like a weather strip had been installed on the outside of the door based on how there is a paint line of a different color. Someday I’ll get on repairing that.

Add a door sweep to a drafty door.

You’ll want to cut the weatherstrip to length. Metal snips work but will leave you with really sharp edges; I prefer the hacksaw since it goes through this soft metal easily. File down the edges if it still feels sharp.

Cut the door sweep with a hacksaw to trim it to length.

The placement of the weatherstrip depends on which way your door opens and where the threshold sits in relation to the gap of the door; our attic door opens into the hallway, but the threshold sits just inside where the closed door rests (no, not lined up to it, and that’s why we’re dealing with an icy jet stream during the cool months). To close that gap, it made most sense for me to install the weatherproofer to the side of the door that’s inside the attic, so that the rubber seal would flex tight and hopefully enclose the gap on the outer edge of the threshold while still being out of sight from the hallway-side of the door.

I predrilled holes and then used the supplied screws to anchor the door sweep to the base of the door. Side note #2: That’s my Black & Decker GYRO cordless screwdriver. It’s as handy as can be, lightweight, and because of its small size, it has proven to be a very helpful new tool when I’m needing to fit into tight areas. For light-to-medium projects, it’s my newest go-to.

Attach the door sweep to the base of the door.

With the door sweep secured, it creates a tight seal against the floor when the attic door is closed. It immediately cut off the constant flow of air, and will help to keep our home a little warmer all winter.

See how it looks when the door is closed? Wonderfully sealed.

Make sure your door sweep has a connection with the floor when closed.

What’re you doing to cure household air jets as wintertime air moves in?

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at

18 Responses

  1. Cindy says:

    Our first house was a fixer upper with drafty windows. I made internal storm windows with inexpensive plexiglass and wood quarter round. I measured and cut the plexiglass to the right size and using caulk attached it over the existing window. I then used caulk to the plexiglass and the window frame to form a tight seal. This put an end to the leaks and I was able to take it down if needed.

  2. Robert says:

    If, you want to protect your home and family from the acute changes in the weather conditions, then it will be truly essential to add secondary double glazing feature to the doors and windows, as it will help in maintaining energy efficiency, apart from assuring comfort and safety of the property.

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    to drop lens rank.11. writing from personal experience is very easy it’s easy to say your views and you can go into detail with little effort. the good thing about writing about your personal experiences is that you can form a…

  4. [...] all over efficiency and insulation these days (and to give an enthusiastic update, my recent door sweep installation has eliminated all signs of a drafty attic door!). I work from home, and because I’m having [...]

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  6. [...] been really, really diligent about getting our home insulated this year and it’s made a noticeable difference, [...]

  7. Guest says:

    Shrink wrap does nothing. This winter, I bought large foam pieces at Walmart in the craft department. The strips you would use to make lawn furniture, etc, cut it to fit window (not just glass, but everything inside the pane where air might seep). After that, I used white duct tape to secure the foam. Next, three layers of thick drop cloth plastic, like for painting.

    The key is keeping some layers to trap the air.

  8. busymary says:

    Sadly, I am in a rental and the outside washroom door has a similar gap (you can see major light showing thru). It already has a sweep and badly drags the carpet but (big sigh) still does not make contact with anything once it meets the doorway. Sofar I have put up with it but it is darn chilly. So I added a strip of that black insulating foam across the outside bottom of the door and another piece to the stoop where they would meet. I just did this and it seems better. Sadly the piece along the stoop will likely (kids coming in and out) get shredded and I will have to reapply or find a better solution, I am considering sealing in the two windows in that room with shrink wrap window plastic as well.

  9. Clare Louise says:

    Great idea! I have electric baseboard heat and it is expensive.

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  11. [...] landing thank us greatly, and we're expecting merry rewards in our winter heating bill. Check out this post on DIY Network to see what I did to cure a costly and frigid situation. [...]

  12. [...] thank us greatly, and we’re expecting merry rewards in our winter heating bill. Check out this post on DIY Network to see what I did to cure a costly and frigid situation. If you like it, share [...]

  13. H.R. says:

    Insulation, ok, I could use more of that.

  14. BobW says:

    Definetly an energy saver. evenly the year around.

  15. Moodyvega says:

    You will definetly see a difference in your Heating Bill.. NICE


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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