When the cold winds blow, the last thing you want to do is invite them inside to join you for the evening. One of the best ways to keep those uninvited guests outside is to make sure the weatherstripping on your exterior doors is working effectively, so take a little time this weekend to check their condition and replace them if necessary.
There are actually several kinds of weatherstripping used on doors, and while just about any one will work on the majority of doors, some are definitely better than others.
Integrated Foam Strip: This is the type of weatherstripping found on most new doors, and is both simple and effective. It consists of a semi-rigid foam strip — often encased in a tough, flexible outer sheath that helps protect the foam from damage — that fits between the door and the stop. The foam is attached to a wood, metal, or plastic strip that in turn slips into a slot cut into the doorstop. If your door currently has this type of weatherstripping and it is worn out or damaged, replace it with the same material, available through some home centers and most door shops. You can also retrofit this type of weatherstripping to an existing door, but it requires cutting a slot in the doorstop – something that’s easy to do if the stop is removable, but a little tricky if it’s not.
Magnetic: This is only used with metal doors, and is a very effective weatherstripping. It consists of a flexible vinyl and foam strip, with a magnetic strip inside at the face. When the door is closed, the magnetic strip attaches itself to the face of the door, forming a very tight seal. This is ideal for metal doors that do not currently have weatherstripping, or as a replacement for existing magnetic weatherstripping that is damaged. It is usually only available through door shops.
Bulb-Type: This is one of the better retrofit weatherstrippings available. It is inexpensive, relatively easy to apply, and works with virtually any type of door. The weatherstripping is a vinyl or rubber tube that is hollow inside, attached to an aluminum strip that is slotted for installation. The weatherstripping is applied to the side of the doorstop so that the hollow tube compresses against the door to form a seal. One kit includes two long strips for the sides and one short strip for the top, plus nails or screws for installation. Complete instructions are included; just take your time with the installation to ensure a tight, effective fit.
Felt Strips: These are somewhat similar to the bulb weatherstripping, but not as effective. It consists of a long strip of felt that is bonded to a metal strip, and is installed by nailing the metal to the face of the doorstop so that the felt presses against the door. It’s probably a little easier to install then the bulb-type, but because the felt is not flexible like the hollow bulb is, the continuity of the seal against the door is not as good.
Folded Vinyl: This is simply a long vinyl strip that is folded lengthwise into a V-shape. It is self-adhesive and sticks to the inside of the doorstop. When the door is closed, the V compresses to press the vinyl against the face of the door. Relatively effective, easy to apply, but easily damaged and doesn’t hold up well in extreme cold.
Self-Stick Foam: This is an inexpensive, easy-to-apply weatherstripping that is somewhat effective. It consists of a length of foam on a roll, with a self-adhesive backing. Cut the foam to the desired length, peel off the protective tape to expose the adhesive, and apply it to the inside of the doorstop. Foam tapes come in different thicknesses to conform to the thickness of the gap between the door and the stop. Be forewarned that this type of weatherstripping typically doesn’t last more than a couple of winters, and can be hard to strip off when it comes time to replace it.
Interlocking: This is an older form of weatherstripping that is not often done anymore, but it pays to know what it is if your door is equipped with it. Interlocking weatherstripping consists of two bent metal strips — one in the doorstop and one in the edge of the door. When the door is closed, the two strips interlock with one another to form a seal. It’s actually a pretty effective weatherstripping, but it’s difficult to install and prone to damage. If your door currently has it and it’s working okay, leave it alone. Otherwise, retrofit with one of the new bulb-type weatherstripping materials.
Garage Door: Don’t forget that other big door in the front of your house. Garage door weatherstripping is typically a wood or rigid vinyl strip with a flexible vinyl flap attached. The strip is simply nailed to the exterior frame around the garage door, so that the vinyl flat presses against the garage door and forms a seal. Most home centers carry garage door weatherstripping, or you can get it from any garage door retailer.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.