Interlocking metal weather stripping can provide a secure seal as long as the separate pieces fit together as they should. Installation is tricky, and maintenance requires careful examination for bent pieces.

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Types of Weather Stripping

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There are several types of weather stripping because different situations call for different kinds of material. All of the following types are available to homeowners, and most can be used for either doors or windows.

Pressure-sensitive adhesive-backed foam is the easiest weather stripping to apply, and it is quite inexpensive. Available in both rubber and plastic, adhesive-backed foam comes in rolls of varying lengths and thicknesses. When compressed by a door or window, the foam seals out the air. As an added advantage, these strips also provide a cushioning effect that silences slamming. Though not permanent, this type of weather stripping can last from one to three years. Avoid getting paint on the material because paint causes the foam to lose its resiliency.

Spring-metal strips (V-shape or single) are available in bronze, copper, stainless-steel, and aluminum finishes. Most manufacturers package spring-metal weather stripping in rolls, and they include the brads necessary for installation. Although this kind of weatherstripping seems like a simple installation, it does require patience.

Self-sticking spring metal has a peel-and-stick backing. These are like the standard spring-metal strips just described, but they are far easier to install.

Felt is one of the old standbys and is very economical. It comes in a variety of widths, thicknesses, qualities, and colors (brown, gray, and black). Felt strips are usually nailed in place, but they are also available with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing.

Serrated metal is felt-or vinyl-backed weather stripping that combines the sturdiness of metal with the application ease of felt. Most manufacturers package serrated-metal weather stripping in rolls that include brads for installation.

Tubular gasket weather stripping is made of extremely flexible vinyl. It is usually applied outside where it easily conforms to uneven places. Available in white and gray, it cannot be painted because paint causes the tube to stiffen and lose its flexibility.

Foam-filled tubular gasket weather stripping includes a foam core in the tubular part of the gasket just described. The foam provides extra insulating qualities and extra strength. Moreover, the foam-filled tubular gasket will hold its shape better than the hollow-tube type. It should not be painted.

Interlocking metal weather stripping requires two separate pieces along each edge. One part fits inside the other to form the seal. One piece goes on the door, while the other is attached to the jamb. Because installation generally requires professional-level cutting (rabbeting), no step-by-step installation instructions ar­e provided for this type of weather stripping. If you­ already have interlocking metal weather stripping, keep it working right by straightening any bent pieces with a screwdriver, pliers or a putty knife. Casement window gaskets are specially made vinyl channels that slip over the lip of the casement frame. No adhesives or tools -- except scissors for cutting the gasket to the proper length -- are needed. This weather stripping is generally available only in shades of gray.

Jalousie gaskets are clear vinyl tracks that can be cut to fit over the edges of jalousie louvers. They snap in place for a friction fit.

Read the next page to learn how to put all of these types of weather stripping to good use.