Weatherstrip Windows & Doors

A drafty home is also an inefficient home. To conserve energy and make your home more comfortable, it helps to keep cold and warm air where they belong by applying weather stripping on your windows and doors. It's a fairly simple do-it-yourself project that conserves energy and lowers utility bills.

Visit your local Cole's Hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.

Exterior doors and windows need effective insulation to keep your home efficiently warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are a variety of weather stripping options to choose from, and some of them (for doors) can be used together in order to get the best coverage.

When choosing weather stripping, be sure that it is appropriate for its location. It must be able to withstand the wear and tear from friction (when opening and closing windows and doors), and fluctuations in temperature and weather.

Here are brief overviews of the most common types of weather stripping:

Adhesive-backed Foam Tape – Pressure-sensitive, adhesive-backed foam tape is probably the most common, one of the cheapest and easiest weather stripping to apply. It comes ready-to-use in rolls of different dimensions. The tape keeps air from sneaking in between the door and the doorstop or between the two window sashes. It also adds a touch of soundproofing and cushion for when the door is accidentally slammed. It usually lasts up to five years and is ideal for sealing drafty windows and doors.

Felt – Felt strips have been used for years; they’re an old-fashioned and inexpensive method of applying weather stripping. Like foam insulation, felt comes in rolls of varying lengths, widths, color and quality. It’s is usually nailed in place, but there are also adhesive-backed versions. Like adhesive-backed foam tape, it works well for windows and doors.

Spring Metal V Strips – This is one of the most durable types of weather stripping. Spring-metal V strips come in bronze, copper, aluminum and stainless-steel finishes. It comes in rolls, like other weather stripping and usually includes nails or brads for installation. Spring metal V strips can last for decades but take some time to install due to the necessity of nailing them on. They are particularly effective for applying weather stripping to doors and can look more refined in older homes with vintage touches.

Vinyl V Strips – These are similar to spring-metal strips but are made of durable and flexible vinyl. Their “V” shape makes them effective for sealing any gaps between window sashes and frames, on both the top and sides of a wood window frame. One side attaches to the window frame and the other side folds in when the window is closed. They are simple to install with their adhesive backing.

Door Sweeps – Door sweeps go on the bottom of the interior side of an in-swinging exterior door to seal the air gap between the door and the threshold. Used together with one of the other door weather-stripping options, they provide an excellent seal.

Weather Strip a Door

Step 1. Inspect and Clean Doorstop and Jamb
Inspect door frames for gaps and holes that may need sealing. If there are any holes or cracks on the exterior side of the door around the frame, seal them with caulk rated for outdoor use. Insert the caulk tube into a caulking gun, cut off the end with a utility knife at an angle and push the gun’s plunger against the bottom of the tube. Pull the trigger to release the caulk and pull the gun across the area you want sealed.

Clean the entire area inside where the weather stripping will be added. Use mild detergent, water and a sponge, making sure no dirt or grease remains. Remove old weather stripping and any old adhesive. The old weather stripping should just pull off. For stubborn adhesive, apply a glue and adhesive remover with a rag and scrub it away. Be sure to read all manufacturer instructions to be sure the product is appropriate and won’t damage wood or other areas. Dry the area with a clean cloth.

Step 2. Install Foam Tape Weather Stripping
Foam tape weather stripping installs easily and usually comes with peel-off backing. Measure the doorstop at the top and both sides with a tape measure. Use a utility knife to cut the tape to the correct length needed for each section. Peel off the backing and press the strips against the doorstop just behind the latch area.

Step 3. Install Spring Metal V Strips (optional)
If you have large gaps between your door and the frame and you need heavy-duty coverage, use spring metal V strips. Cut them to length with tin snips and then nail them to the door frame so they're flush with the door jamb. Nails should be included with the strips unless you bought ones that have an adhesive backing. Remember that the opening of the “V” should be facing the exterior of the door.

Step 4. Install Door Sweep
With the door closed, place the sweep on the bottom of the door and check to see that the sweep’s rubber gasket seals tightly against the threshold. Look for any light shining from outside in under the sweep. If you see any, adjust the sweep until it’s blocked out. When you see no more light, the sweep is correctly in place. Use a pencil or pen to mark where to drill holes for the supplied screws. Use a drill to pre-drill the holes and then fasten the sweep to the door with a screwdriver.

Helpful Tip: Door sweeps are manufactured to fit standard door sizes and should fit your door right out of the packaging. If not, just measure the door and cut the sweep to fit using a hacksaw.

Weather Strip a Window

Step 1. Inspect and Clean Window Parts
Inspect all windows for gaps that may need sealing. Using mild detergent and water, clean both window sashes. The window sashes are the “frames” directly around each of the windowpanes. There will be a lower and upper sash. Make sure no dirt or grease remains. Remove adhesive from any old weather stripping, using a glue and adhesive remover for stubborn adhesive. Dry the area with a clean cloth.

Step 2. Install Foam Tape Weather Stripping
Measure the bottom of the lower sash and the top of the upper sash and then cut the foam tape with a utility knife to fit these areas. Peel off the backing and press into place. When these sashes are closed, the foam tape will form an airtight barrier so that no outside air can get in and inside air can’t get out. This type of weather stripping can also be used in the window channels, (the groove in which the sash moves up and down) but can wear down quickly due to friction if the windows are opened and closed frequently. A better option for this area is vinyl V strips (see below).

Helpful Tip: Check your weather stripping frequently and replace as needed. Foam tape can wear down within a year, so make sure you are maintaining your weather stripping to keep your home insulated.

Step 3. Install Vinyl V Strips
Vinyl V strips often go between the sash stiles (the vertical section of the sash) and the window channels. Open the bottom sash all the way and measure the channel from the bottom of the sash to the bottom of the channel. Use a utility knife to cut the strip to the correct length. Repeat this for the upper sash, opening it all the way down. Then simply peel away the backing and push the strips into place in the channel. When the sashes are closed, both sides of the “V” are pushed together, forming an airtight seal.

Good job! Now enjoy your home and watch your heating and cooling bills go down. For the rest of your home improvement needs, visit your local Cole's Hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.

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Shopping List

  • Weather stripping
  • Door sweep
  • Caulk
  • Utility knife
  • Sponge
  • Glue
  • Adhesive remover
  • Cloth
  • Tape measure
  • Tin snips
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Hacksaw