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Crawl Space Entry: Steel Door or Turtl?

green turtl

Originally posted 7/16/20, updated 12/15/22

Crawl Spaces are not warm, inviting places for humans to hang out.  They’re often dark, crowded little locations with dirt floors.  A crawl space is even worse if it’s inhabited by insects, pests, or animals.  There is a great way to prevent that; encapsulation can turn a crawl space into a clean, dry, usable storage space devoid of icky creatures.  

If you’re only looking for a way to prevent unwanted guests, encapsulation can be expensive.  But every homeowner should prevent infestations of any kind.  Animals in your crawl space introduce waste and carry disease, which impacts the air quality in your home.  They often destroy insulation for nests and digging or burrowing can create erosion around your foundation. And let’s not discuss what happens if they access your ductwork- that provides a way into your living space!

Acculevel is a foundation repair company that has been repairing, waterproofing, and encapsulating crawl spaces for 20+ years.  While we do not provide extermination services or pest control, we are often asked to repair the damages caused after pest removal.  Depending on the type of pest and the amount of damage done, repair bills can be thousands of dollars. 

Experience has taught us that many times, having a solid, tight-fitting entry door is enough to  deter animals from nesting under your home.   We provide two different options for this and will review both in detail, so you can choose the one that works best for you.


Option 1: Steel Door with Insulation

Most crawl spaces have an exterior access (not through the house).  Many times, homeowners have them covered with a piece of wood. These wood ‘doors’ are sometimes attached to the home, but generally they are held in place with a large rock or bricks.  This type of closure can be moved by nosy animals, or shifted in place enough to allow smaller pests to get behind it. 

If you’ve ever tried to eat lunch at an old picnic table, you know how badly wood can age when it’s exposed to the elements.  Once it’s saturated by a good rain, it’s never the same.  The wood panel covering your crawl space access isn’t going to hold up over the long term; in fact, it may actually be an appealing “snack” to termites.    

The Pros of a Steel Door

  • Steel doors are much more durable and sound than wood.  
  • The steel doors that Acculevel installs have insulation on the interior, to help block drafts.
  • They can be securely attached to your foundation, then padlocked closed.   
  • A steel door is not edible to any pests, nor is it something they can chew through or pull loose.  


The Cons of a Steel Door

There are only two downsides to a steel door.  The first is that steel is a metal that can -and will- rust over time.  This can make it hard to open or close, and eventually it will not fit the entryway correctly.  (This is because metal expands when it rusts.)  If it is left in place long enough, rust can create holes through the door; at that point, it no longer functions as a barrier.  

The other drawback is achieving full accessibility.  If the entrance of the crawl is below grading (below ground level), you will also need a window well installed.  This is the only way to be sure of having good access to the door. 

An insulated steel door costs approximately $525.  If you also need a window well, that will add $700-725 to the total.  At Acculevel, we install galvanized metal window wells. Prices given include labor and materials.

crawl space entry with steel doorThis photo was taken by an Acculevel team member after work was completed.  This entry needed a window well and a new steel door. 

Option 2: Turtl 

No, I didn’t spell it wrong!  The product’s name is Turtl, no “e” at the end, and it’s a molded vinyl entryway that can be used to cover and lock a crawl space entrance.   This is a product developed by Skaggs Builders, an Indiana-based company that has been in business since 1977.  

green turtlThis is a promotional photo of a green turtl with the access door open. 


The Pros of a Turtl

  • Because the turtl is made entirely of vinyl, it will not rust like steel or decay like wood.  
  • Being impervious to the outside elements makes it a long-term and eco-friendly solution. 
  • The lid can be padlocked for security. 
  • It seals tightly against the foundation, to keep out pests, water, and drafts.
  • By preventing drafts, it can reduce your utility bills. 
  • It comes in three colors, to complement or fit in with existing home design. 
  • The height can be easily adjusted by adding 6” extension rings, so an entrance below grade is not an issue. 


The Cons of a Turtl

The turtl is an excellent product, and we highly recommend it.  Turtls are particularly useful for homeowners who are considering encapsulation, either now or down the road.  A turtl seals the exit of a crawl space in a way that maintains the integrity of the encapsulation, while still allowing you easy access. Frankly, the only drawback to this entry cover is its initial cost: a turtl with installation costs approximately $2700.


Which is Better: a Steel Door or Turtl? 

If money is not a deciding factor, then a turtl is the best option.  It will last longer, keep out both pests and water, and protect against drafts.  But if you don’t have $2700 to invest into a turtl right now, then a good steel door with insulation is a smart choice.  Either of them are far superior to a wooden cover (or a deteriorated steel door) and provide better security for your home.

tan turtlThis photo was taken by an Acculevel team member, after the turtl was installed. 


Additional Resources

Want to know more about the benefits of crawl space encapsulation?  This blog provides the top 3 reasons to encapsulate.

When was the last time you gave your home a “check-up?”  We’ve created a DIY foundation checklist for homeowners to use.  It walks you through a detailed review of your home’s foundation and surrounding areas.  Based on our own 21 Point Checklist (which costs $500 for 5 years), this is a free tool that will help you keep your home in peak condition. 

Not sure how to hire a contractor to work on your home?  Uneasy about screening out questionable business practices?  Please use our guide: Questions to Ask a Contractor.  The blog article gives our answers to these questions, and includes a link to a free blank questionnaire you can use to protect yourself. 


Are You Ready to Install a New Entry for Your Crawl Space? 

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel.  We specialize in crawl space repairs and waterproofing, and provide free estimates to all our customers.  Contact our office, and one of our friendly staff will schedule an appointment for you with one of our experienced project advisors.  He or she will evaluate your house and its symptoms, then recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.

Acculevel’s goal is to do the best and most thorough repair possible, to protect and maintain your home.  We know that allowing our employees into your home demonstrates trust, and we intend to repay that trust with the absolute best in customer service.   Acculevel is accredited by the BBB, have an A+ rating, and average 5 stars on customer reviews.



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