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How To Weather Strip Your Home

What is weather stripping and why do I need it?

Even the best installed doors and windows have small gaps that allow for warm air to escape, and may allow dust and insects to come in. Weather stripping is a process by which these small gaps are sealed against the elements, and ensure maximum climate control in a home or building.

Weather stripping is a fairly simple home project, but there are different kinds available that are best suited for specific areas. Before tackling weatherstripping your home, familiarize yourself with the varieties available.

  • Door sweeps. These are installed under an exterior door, and can be made of vinyl, rubber, sponge, or felt bristles in an aluminum or stainless steel frame. A sweep can be added to the inside or the outside of the door, depending on the brand. They are easy to install, but may drag on carpet.
  • Foam tape. This weather stripping tape can be made of rubber, PVC, or vinyl and is made for doorstops, double hung window rails, and casement window stops. Easy to use and excellent for filling irregular gaps due to the fact it can be cut to size, it is nevertheless visible and may break down with heavy wear.
  • V-strip, or V-channel, aka tension seal. Good for double-hung windows, sliding windows, window stops, top and sides of a door, and meeting rails, v-strips are made from vinyl or flexible strips of thin aluminum or stainless steel.
  • Felt. For use around both doors and windows, felt is made of a combination of natural wool or synthetic blends. While both affordable and easy to install, felt is also low-durability and will generally only last for around two years at most.
  • Gaskets. Similar to door sweeps, gaskets are rubber like tubes that may be installed along the bottom of garage doors or used as an alternative to a door sweep on an exterior door.

Weather Stripping Installation

Once you’ve researched and decided which type of weather stripping is best suited for your project, it’s time for the installation. You’ll want to add weather stripping to any area of a door that you can see sunlight coming in, and around areas of any window where you can feel a draft.

Step One: Remove all outdated or degraded weather stripping

Before adding anything, make sure that there is no old weather stripping present. An adhesive can be peeled off using your hands, or a putty knife if it's stubborn. Scrape away every scrap to ensure a clean work surface. If the stripping is screwed to the frame, unscrew it and remove, saving the screws for installation of the new weather stripping.

Step Two: Clean the surface area

Use an adhesive remover to ensure that all the glue has been removed from the last job. Apply with a cloth, then dry. Next, use soap and water to wash the entire area well. If any adhesive or debris is left, it can affect the efficacy of your new weather stripping.

Step Three: Measure

Using a tape measure, measure the top and sides of your door or window frame. For best accuracy, measure twice and ideally have another person hold one end of the tape measure so that it is tight and has another pair of eyes on it.

Step Four: Install Your Weather Stripping

Note-when buying your weather stripping, purchase the amount needed for the project plus 10% extra as a precaution. Test thickness before buying the entire amount needed for the project. Some weather stripping may be too thick and won’t allow your door to close.

  • Cut pieces to the correct length, marking lightly with a pencil where to cut. For a window you will need four pieces--top, bottom, and both sides. Doors require three: sides and top. You will need to use a door sweep for the bottom of the door.
  • Place the end of the strip in the top corner of the jamb and then press along flush against the door frame. If using a v-strip, make sure to place it against the frame so the opening of the V faces toward the exterior of the door or window.
  • When stripping is properly aligned, peel off backing and press firmly into place. Work in small increments, so that the adhesive doesn’t stick where it isn’t supposed to. You may decide to add staples or nails at intervals for extra protection, but this isn’t necessary.
  • Test the windows or door by opening and closing to make sure that they close tightly and without too much sticking. There may be some extra effort required at first, but if the force needed is significant, adjust the weather stripping.
  • To install a door sweep, follow manufacturer’s directions.

Cost of Weather Stripping

Pricing varies for weather stripping, with tape leading as the most economical version. A weather stripping tape generally runs around $14 for 50 feet. As well as being the cheapest form of weather stripping, it is also the easiest to install.

V-strips or seals run around $4.00 per 17 feet. Door sweeps cost about ten bucks, while gaskets are a little more expensive at $36 for 18 feet. The important thing to remember while pricing is that any weather stripping is worth the price for the protection against higher energy bills. Untreated doors and windows allow for drafts that can run air conditioning bills sky high in summer, while heating bills soar in the winter.

How often do I need to replace weather stripping?

Not all weather stripping is created equal in terms of durability. Felt stripping is the least durable, as it is vulnerable to moisture and friction. It lasts for only about 2 years. Foam tape will break down with heavy wear, and may need to be replaced as often as every 3-5 years. V-strips will last a bit longer, but can bend out of shape and lose screws or nails. Be sure to test your weather stripping yearly to ensure that there are no gaps or breakdown present.

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