Rising energy costs can make a cold, drafty house a misery that grows increasingly expensive. Sealing your home with tight-fitting weather stripping can make you feel warm all winter long. You'll also enjoy the lower utility bills.
If you had a 6-inch-square hole in the middle of your front door, you would certainly do something in order to plug it up. Yet there are thousands of homes in which a 1/8-inch-wide crack exists all the way around the door, and this gap is just about the equivalent air loss of that 6-inch-square hole. Letting these cracks exist is like throwing dollars out the door or window. Fortunately, weatherstripping can reduce your heating/cooling bills by as much as 30 percent while reducing drafts that can cause discomfort.
Your home may or may not need weather stripping. Luckily, there are some very simple ways to find out. If you can feel cold air coming in around doors and windows on a windy day, you know the answer. If you are uncertain, you can create your own windstorm at the precise spot where you suspect air might be leaking. Go outside with a hand-held hair dryer and have a helper inside move his or her hands around the door and/or window frame as you move the hair dryer.
You may discover that all your doors and windows are airtight. Or you may find a door or window that is airtight around three edges but needs help along the fourth edge. What you will probably conclude, however, is that your home has several drafty areas that would benefit from weather stripping.
In this article, we'll show you how to install weather stripping on all parts of your house. We'll also examine the various types of weather stripping, which is our first order of business.
Types of Weather Stripping
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.
How to Install Weather Stripping
Most homes have a leak or two around doors and windows. Installing weather stripping to block those leaks can reduce drafts and save you a bundle on your heating and cooling bills. In this section, we'll discuss how to install the various types of weather stripping.
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. Pressure-sensitive types of weather stripping can be used only on the friction-free parts of a wooden window, such as the lower sash or the top of the upper sash. If the strips were installed snugly against the gap between upper and lower sashes, the movement of the window would pull it loose.
Use the following steps to apply pressure-sensitive types of weather stripping:Pressure-Sensitive FeltFelt 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). To apply pressure-sensitive felt, follow the same steps as you would to attach pressure-sensitive foam. Felt strips also come without the adhesive backing, but this type must be nailed into place.
Installing Spring-metal and Other Weather Stripping Types
Spring-metal strips (V-shape or single) are available in bronze, copper, stainless-steel, and aluminum finishes. Most manufacturers package spring-metal weatherstripping in rolls, and they include the brads necessary for installation. Although this kind of weather stripping seems like a simple installation, it does require patience.
Spring-metal weather stripping fits into the tracks around the windows. Each strip should be about 2 inches longer than the sash so the end of the strip is exposed when the windows are closed. Here's how to install spring-metal weather stripping:
Step 1: Position vertical strips so flared flange faces outside. Center strip should be mounted to upper sash with flare aimed down, while other horizontal strips are mounted to top of upper sash and bottom of lower sash with flared flange facing out. Using snips, cut spring-metal weather stripping to size. Be sure to allow for window pulley mechanisms.
Step 2: Attach strips to window frame. Position strip properly and note any hinges, locks, or other hardware that might interfere. Trim away metal where needed. Then trim ends of strip at an angle where vertical and horizontal strips meet. Tap in one nail at top and one nail at bottom of strip. Do not put in more nails and do not drive top and bottom nails all the way in. Since some vertical strips do not come with nail holes, you may have to make pilot holes with an ice pick or awl.
Step 3: Check to make sure strips are straight and properly positioned. Then drive nail in center of strip -- but, again, only partway. Add more nails between starter nails. To avoid damaging strip, never drive any of the nails all the way in with hammer. Instead, drive nails flush with nail set.
Step 4: Flare out edge of strip with screwdriver to render snug fit.
Self-Sticking Spring Metal
Self-sticking spring metal has a peel-and-stick backing. These are like standard spring-metal strips, but they are far easier to install. This type of weather stripping works best on wood-framed windows. Here's how to install this self-sticking spring metal weather stripping:
Measure and cut strips to fit window, then clean surface where strips are to be placed.
Step 2: Put strips in place without removing backing paper, and mark spots for trimming (for example, indicate hardware points and where vertical and horizontal strips meet).
Step 3: Peel off backing at one end, and press strip in place, peeling and pressing as you work toward other end.
Felt Weather Stripping
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 somewhat unsightly for sealing gaps on wooden-frame windows. There are places where felt can be used to good advantage, however. Attach felt strips to the bottom of the lower sash, the top of the upper sash, and to the interior side of the upper sash. The strips will then function as horizontal gaskets. Here's how to install felt weather stripping:
Step 1: Measure and cut felt to fit window. Keep in mind that felt strips can go around corners. Push material snugly against gap.
Step 2: Nail ends of each strip first, but do not drive nails flush; leave room to pry them out. Start at one end and drive a tack every 2 to 3 inches, pulling felt tight as you go. If you find slack when you reach other end, remove nail, pull to tighten, and trim off any excess.
Note: If possible, do this job on a warm day. The adhesive forms a better bond if applied when the temperature is at least 60 degrees Farenheit.
Follow the same steps you would to attach pressure-sensitive foam weather stripping.
Tubular and Foam-Filled Gasket Weather Stripping
Generally, the only kind of weather stripping that can be applied to metal windows is the pressure-sensitive type. Screws would go through the metal and impede movement of the window. To install, apply weather stripping to top of upper sash (if it is movable) and to bottom of lower sash. These are usually the only spots where metal windows allow for air movement. If you find any other gaps, attach a vinyl tubular gasket to the area with a special adhesive formulated to hold vinyl to metal.
Tubular gasket weather stripping is made of extremely flexible vinyl. It is usually applied outside where it easily conforms to uneven places. Foam-filled tubular gasket weather stripping includes a foam core in the tubular part of the gasket. The foam provides extra insulating qualities and extra strength. Both types should not be painted.
Tubular types of weather stripping are unsightly. They are best used when installed on the outside of the window. If the window is easily accessible from outside the house, then tubular weather stripping is worth considering. It can also be used to improve existing weather stripping. Here's how to install tubular and foam-filled gasket weather stripping:
Step 2: Position each strip carefully and drive nail into one end. Space nails every 2 to 3 inches, pulling weather stripping tight before you drive each nail.Most metal windows are grooved around the edges so the metal flanges will interlock and preclude the need for weather stripping. Sometimes, though, gaps do exist, and you must apply weather stripping in such instances.
On the next page, we'll discuss techniques for installing different types of weather stripping onto doors and sliding windows.
How to Install Weather Stripping Onto Sliding Windows and Doors
Installing weather stripping onto sliding windows and doors presents some unique challenges. We'll show you in this section how to solve the various problems associated with these tasks.
Installing Weather Stripping Onto Sliding Windows
Sliding windows, those in which the sash moves laterally, come in both wood and metal frames. Weather-strip the wooden frames much as you would a double-hung window turned sideways. If only one sash moves, weather-strip it and caulk the stationary sash. For metal frames, follow the instructions for weather-stripping standard metal windows.
Special gaskets are designed for sealing gaps in jalousie and casement windows. To weather-strip jalousies, measure the edge of the glass louver, cut the gasket to size with scissors, and snap the gasket in place. To weather-strip casement windows, measure the edges of the frame, cut strips of gasket to size, miter the ends of the gasket strips where they will intersect, and slip the strips in place over the lip of the frame.
Double-hung wood windows almost always require weather-stripping, although if the top sash is never opened, you can solve an air leak problem by caulking to seal any cracks. You may find it advantageous to use more than one type of weather stripping to complete the job. Be sure to follow the correct installation procedures for each type of weather stripping.
Installing Weather Stripping Onto Doors
All four edges around a door can permit air to leak in and out of your house. In fact, the average door has more gaps than a loose-fitting window. Doors, moreover, don't run in grooves as windows do, so any crack area around a door is likely to be far greater than the area around a window. Weather stripping your doors can seal those gaps, get rid of drafts, and help to reduce your heating and cooling bills. In this article, we'll review the various types of weatherstripping for doors and how to install them.
Before you start weather stripping, inspect the door to be sure it fits properly in the frame opening. Close the door and observe it from the inside. Look to see that the distance between the door and the frame is uniform all along both sides and at the top. The distance does not have to be precisely the same all the way around, but, if the door rests crooked in the frame, weather stripping may make it impossible to open or close. Naturally, if there is great variance in the opening between the door and frame, it will be difficult to fit weather stripping snugly at all points, and gaps will result.
The cause of most door problems is the hinges. Therefore, the first thing to do is open the door and tighten all the hinge screws. Even slightly loose screws can cause the door to sag. If the screw holes have been reamed out and are now too big to hold the screws, you can use larger screws as long as they will still fit in the hinge's countersunk holes. If even the larger screws won't work, pack the holes with toothpicks dipped in glue, and use a knife to cut off the toothpicks even with the surface. Now the screws have new wood in which to bite.
Sometimes the door must be planed off to prevent binding. If so, you can usually plane the top with the door still in place. Always move the plane toward the center of the door to avoid splintering off the edges. If you must plane wood off the sides, take the door off its hinges, plane the hinge side, and always move toward the edges.
Spring metal is quite popular for door weather stripping. It works effectively when installed properly and is not visible with the door closed. In the packages designated as door kits, most manufacturers include the triangular piece that fits next to the striker plate on the jamb.
Applying Spring-metal Strips
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 weather stripping seems like a simple installation, it does require patience. Here's how to install spring-metal weather stripping around a door:
Step 1: Measure and cut spring-metal strips to size.
Step 2: Position side strips so flared flange almost touches door stop. Trim away metal where needed to accommodate any hinges, locks, or other hardware.
Step 3: Tap in one nail at top and one nail at bottom of each side strip. Do not put in any more nails, and don't drive top and bottom nails in all the way. If strips do not have prepunched holes, make pilot holes with ice pick or awl. Check to make sure side strips are straight and properly positioned.
Step 4: Drive nail in center of side strip but only partway in. Then add nails spaced at regular intervals between ends. To avoid damaging strip, never drive nails all the way in with hammer. Instead, drive nails flush with nail set. Repeat procedure for other side strip.
Step 5: Put top strip in last, and miter it to fit. Flare out edge of each strip with screwdriver to render snug fit.
Applying Self-Sticking Spring Metal Around Doors
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. Self-sticking spring metal can be used in the same places as regular spring metal. To install the self-sticking spring metal around a door, follow these steps:
Step 1: Clean surface where strips are to be placed. Measure and cut strips to size with tin snips.
Step 2: Put strips in place without removing backing paper. Mark spots for trimming (for example, hardware points and where vertical and horizontal strips meet).
Step 3: Peel off backing at one end and press strip in place, peeling and pressing as you work toward other end.
Applying Pressure-sensitive Foam
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 weatherstripping can last from one to three years.
To install pressure-sensitive foam weather stripping around doors:
Step 1: Select warm day to work, if possible. Adhesive forms a better bond if applied when temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Clean surface where weather stripping is to be attached with detergent and water. Make sure no dirt or grease remains. If pressure-sensitive weather stripping had been previously installed, use petroleum jelly to remove any old adhesive. Dry surface with rags.
Step 3: Use scissors to cut strip to fit, but don't remove backing paper yet.
Step 4: Starting at one end, slowly peel paper backing as you push sticky foam strips into place. If backing proves stubborn at beginning, stretch foam until seal between backing and foam breaks.
Step 5: Attach strips on hinge side to doorjamb.
Step 6: Attach other two strips to doorstop. If corner of door catches weather stripping as you close it, trim top piece of foam on hinge side. Serrated-metal weather stripping, usually with a felt-strip insert running the length of the serrated groove, also can be used to seal air gaps around doors. To install this type of weather stripping, measure the length of strips required, and then use tin snips or heavy-duty scissors to cut the serrated-metal material to the proper lengths. Nail each strip at both ends, add a nail to the center of each strip, and drive additional nails every 2 to 3 inches along the rest of the strip.
Creating A Weathertight Threshold
The gap at the bottom of the door is treated differently from the gaps on the sides and along the top.The wood or metal hump on the floor along the bottom of the door is called the threshold.
Many of the metal types feature a flexible vinyl insert that creates a tight seal when the door closes against it. Other thresholds consist of one unit on the floor and a mating piece on the bottom of the door. These two pieces interlock to form a weathertight barrier.
In most cases, the threshold with a flexible vinyl insert is the easiest to install. Interlock systems are quite effective when properly installed, but they require a perfect fit or they will not work satisfactorily.
Wooden thresholds often wear down to the point where they must be replaced. This is an easy installation, and there are many types of replacement thresholds from which to choose. Most are aluminum and come in standard door widths; however, if your door is not standard width, you can trim the aluminum threshold with a hacksaw. Here's how to install a replacement threshold:
Step 1: Remove old threshold. If it is wood, there are two ways to remove it. In most cases, you can pry it up after removing doorstops with small flat pry bar or putty knife, but you must work carefully and slowly. If jamb itself rests on threshold, saw through old threshold at each end.
Use backsaw placed right against jamb, and saw down through threshold, being careful not to scar floor. Once you make cuts, threshold should be easy to pry up. If prying doesn't work, use chisel and hammer to split piece. Metal thresholds are frequently held down by screws concealed under vinyl inserts. Once you remove screws, threshold will come up easily.
Step 2: Install replacement threshold by driving screws through metal unit and into floor. If you don't want aluminum threshold, cut replacement from wood, using original one as pattern.
Step 3: Install door sweep to seal gap. Most sweeps are attached to inside of door with nails or screws. Cut sweep to size, and close door. Tack both ends of sweep to door, then install remaining nails or screws. If you are using screws, drill pilot holes first.
Some types of sweeps slip under the door and wrap around the bottom. Still another type fits on the outside, with a section of it flipping upward to miss the threshold when the door is opened. When the door is closed, this section flips back down to provide a seal against the threshold. You can adjust this type of door sweep so it renders a snug fit.
Weather-stripping and weatherproofing your doors -- and the rest of your home -- can help keep you comfortable when the weather is inclement. And the good news is that you can make these improvements to your home without having to call a professional.
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