Do your windows rattle on a windy day? Do you feel a slight draft when you stand next to an exterior door? If so, your indoor air, either heated or cooled, is leaking outside. This can become an expensive problem that will show up on next month’s utility bill. Adequate weather stripping for doors and windows is essential.
Worn or insufficient weather stripping is often the cause of chilly indoor drafts in the winter and heat gain in summer. According to Energy.gov, sealing a drafty house can save you more than 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
Is there one type of weather stripping that works better than others?
Weather stripping is manufactured from a variety of materials including foam, felt, vinyl, sponge rubber, aluminum, and stainless steel. It is available in two types – adhesive-backed self-stick tape and nail-on strips. Furthermore, the type you choose will depend on your particular window or door configuration.
Self-stick weather stripping for doors and windows –
Self-stick weather stripping is springy, pliable, and usually made of foam, felt, vinyl or sponge rubber.
The convenient adhesive backing makes installation easy. This self-stick version is often used where using nails isn’t possible. The self-stick type is best for sealing a window that is too irregular for rigid, nail-on weather stripping.
Nail-on weather stripping for doors and windows –
Nail-on weather stripping is rigid and usually made of aluminum, vinyl, bronze or stainless steel. It is usually available in a V-shape, or in a coiled tube design. In comparison to the self-stick variety, the nail-on version is more secure since it is nailed into place.
Self-stick vinyl in a V-shape or a flexible strip –
This material is made to press against the sides of a crack, creating an air-tight seal.
Best Use – For double-hung or sliding glass windows. Or for the sides and top of a door.
Cost – Moderate. Price will vary depending on the material.
Pros – Self-stick vinyl is durable and easy to install. When properly applied, it’s hidden from view.
Cons – For self-stick vinyl weather stripping to work well, the door or window surface should be smooth and perfectly flat. Self-stick vinyl may create resistance when opening or closing doors or windows.
Tubular rubber or vinyl –
Vinyl or sponge rubber tubes are available with a flange along the edge which is used to staple or nail it into place. The door or window presses against it to form a tight seal.
Best Use – Around a door
Cost – Moderate to high
Pros – Makes an effective air barrier
Cons – Self-stick types can be difficult to install
Nonporous Foam Tape –
Best Use – Window sashes, door frames, attic hatches or inoperable windows. Also works well in corners and around cracks.
Cost – Low
Pros – Easy to install. Can be reinforced with tacks or staples.
Cons – It’s best to use nonporous foam tape in areas that experience minimum wear as product durability may vary. Visible to the eye.
Available in regular felt, or reinforced felt with a metal strip – sold in rolls. Felt can be stapled, nailed or glued into place. The best felt seal is achieved by stapling parallel to strip length. Durable, 100% wool felt is the best choice, but is more expensive.
Best Use – Fitted into a door jamb. For reinforced felt, around a window or door.
Cost – Low
Pros – Inexpensive and easy to install
Cons – Minimal durability; does not circumvent the flow of air well. Do not use felt in a location that is continually exposed to moisture. Visible to the eye.
Removing Old Weather Stripping from Doors and Windows
What You’ll Need
- Pry bar
To remove weather stripping from doors –
- Remove the door from the hinges to gain access to the old weather stripping.
- Locate the weather stripping. It’s usually found where the door connects to the jamb. It may also be found at the top and bottom of the removed door.
- To remove the weather stripping, place the pry bar underneath. Secure the pry bar in place with a hammer with a light tap or two.
- Pull the pry bar toward you to dislodge the old weather stripping. Move along the door jamb and across the top and bottom of the door to remove all old weather stripping. Lastly, if the weather stripping has been attached with screws, use a screwdriver to remove it.
To remove weather stripping from windows –
Remove all chipped or loose paint that is touching the weather stripping. For stick-on weather stripping, gently pull to remove it, or use a putty knife. Furthermore, if you have worn, metal-edge weather stripping, use needle-nose pliers to remove tacks or nails.
Applying Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors
First, prep the surface – It’s always a good idea to start with a clean, dry surface. Remove all adhesive left on the surface with a cleaner or with fine-grit sandpaper. For holes, use wood filler and sandpaper. Also fill old screw holes.
Measure and add together the numbers for the perimeter of the window or door. Also add 5% to 10% to the result to make sure you will have enough material for the job. (Keep in mind weather stripping comes in several widths.)
Read the instructions on the package to determine what tools you’ll need and the specific methods used for installation.
Below are a few general installation guidelines to follow –
- Apply weather stripping to the entire door jamb; adding it in one continuous strip, along each side of the door.
- Weather stripping should meet tightly at corners
- Choose a thickness that will cause the product to press tightly between the door and the jamb. But not so tight that makes the door difficult to shut.
- For windows, apply weather stripping between the frame and sash. Choose a thickness that will seal tightly, but not interfere with window operation.
- Apply new weather stripping to a clean, dry surface. Outside temps should be above 20°F (-7° C).
- Double check your math by measuring the perimeter of your door or window twice – and cut once.
- Weather stripping should be snug against both surfaces and should compress slightly when the door or window is shut creating a weather-tight seal.
Rein in your heating and cooling bills by replacing old, worn weather stripping for doors and windows. Your wallet will thank you!