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Community and Q&A

Exterior attic entry

User avatar
Mark Walker | Posted in General Questions on

Is an exterior attic entry preferable to an attic hatch from the conditioned space?

Are there small-ish doors that can easily be framed into a gable truss?

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  1. User avatar
    Brian Pontolilo | | #1

    I did exactly that, install an exterior attic door on the gable end of my house since I didn't use the attic for anything other than a few electrical cable runs, a chimney, and a bath fan exhaust vent. I left the existing attic hatch but sealed it off from above with rigid foam and canned spray foam. I've seen a number of high-performance homes with only exterior attic access as well. Here's a helpful article about attics that may give you some more food for thought:

  2. Jerry Liebler | | #2

    If there is an attached Garage that may well be where the code required attic entry is best located. Hatches from conditioned space are not easily air sealed and insulated properly and probably are best avoided. A cheap window in a gable is another possibility.

  3. Malcolm Taylor | | #3

    The advantages are:

    - No issues with air-sealing or disturbance of insulation.
    - No mess in the interior when accessing attic or installing insulation.
    - Easy to bring long structural members into the attic if renovating.

    The potential disadvantages are:

    - Security?

    If you want a larger access than the typical gable truss spacing allows, you can get the supplier to frame an opening in.

    Make sure the opening works with the webs of the common trusses beyond, to make moving inside easier.

    Build yourself a catwalk above the insulation level from the access to the far end of the house for periodic inspection.

  4. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Another disadvantage: You need an extension ladder for access. But it's still the best way to go from the perspective of energy performance. See the photo below.

  5. Aaron Beckworth | | #5

    Wow, the gable end of that roof looks nice! Can anyone offer a guess as to the roof pitch?


    1. Trevor Lambert | | #7

      12:12 Not a guess, measured, ignoring possibility of parallax error due to camera angle. Should be pretty close. Came out to just under 12:12, parallax would put the error to the smaller side.

  6. User avatar
    Walter Ahlgrim | | #6

    looks like 8 in 12 to me.


  7. User avatar
    Mark Walker | | #8

    This sounds like a plan, then!

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