While draft stoppers can reduce air flow at the bottom of a door or window, you probably also want to use weatherstripping because it can be installed on all four sides of exterior doors and windows. Weatherstripping is meant for movable building components like doors and operable windows. For components that don't move, caulking is the more appropriate material to use for filling cracks and gaps that let in unwanted air.
Installing weatherstripping is a good do-it-yourself project for most homeowners. The biggest challenges are determining where to add weatherstripping and how it will affect your home's ventilation.
- Detecting air leaks needing weatherstripping – If you have a few leaky windows or sitting near the back door is uncomfortable, you can use a small, handheld heat detector like this one from Black & Decker (click to learn more). Alternatively you can get a more comprehensive home energy audit that can help you identify and prioritize all the improvements you can make to your home to save energy.
- Verifying adequate ventilation for indoor air quality – As our homes become more airtight to conserve energy, we trap and breathe unhealthy contaminants like formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds. If you're adding weatherstripping to a few doors and windows in an older house, you're probably fine or learn more on the government's energy website.
How to Buy the Right Weatherstripping
Ready to get started? To start you'll want to do some research on what type of weatherstripping fits your project best. You'll also want to consider what you can install easily, and then take measurements before heading to the store. So here are the things you want to consider:
- How much wear and tear will the weatherstripping get, e.g. how frequently will the windows be opened? You want weatherstripping that seals well when closed but allows windows and doors to open freely.
- How much friction or resistance will the weatherstripping be exposed to, like the bottom of the door dragging across carpeting each time the door opens or closes?
- How will the weatherstripping hold up to exposure to rain water? temperature changes?
- What is your budget for weatherstripping products, and possible installation by a home professional? Don't make your decision solely on today's cost as cheaper materials will need to be replaced more frequently.
The Different Types of Weatherstripping
Felt and open-cell foams tend to be inexpensive, susceptible to weather, visible, and inefficient at blocking airflow. However, the ease of applying these materials may make them valuable in low-traffic areas. Vinyl, which is slightly more expensive, holds up well and resists moisture. Metals (bronze, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum) last for years and are affordable. Metal weatherstripping can also provide a nice touch to older homes where vinyl might seem out of place.
- Cost and lifetime – felt is inexpensive but only lasts one to two years, because it doesn't hold up well to weather.
- Ease of installation – farily easy, requiring you to cut the felt to length and tack/staple into place.
- Description – comes plain or reinforced with a flexible, metal strip. Felt can be used on doors and windows but I've only seen dark felt, so you're going to see it which might not be acceptable.
- Cost and lifetime – open cell foam is inexpensive but needs to be replaced every one to two years.
- Ease of installation – easy because the tape is backed with an adhesive. You simply measure, cut to length with scissors, peel the tape off and stick in place.
- Description – this product is made from foam, rubber or a sponge rubber. It comes in multiple widths and thicknesses, making it a good solution for irregular cracks. It can be used to seal doors and windows and can be found in white, gray and black.
- Cost and lifetime – vinyl is slighty more expensive than felt or foam which makes sense because it holds up well and usually lasts five or more years.
- Ease of installation – a little more challenging to install because you've got to deal with the tube while stapling/tacking the flange in place.
- Description – these small tubes made of vinyl or sponge rubber can be used to weatherstrip both doors and windows. When closed, the tube flattens and forms a tight seal.
- Cost and lifetime – is inexpensive, durable and long-lasting.
- Ease of installation – easy to install because it comes with pressure sensitive adhesive on the back so you measure, cut and stick in place.
- Description – made of either vinyl or metal, the v-strip is folded back on itself to form a springy strip that bridges the gap … between doors and the door jam, or windows and the window frame surrounding them.
Foam Wrapped Choices
You'll need to visit your local hardware store to find these higher quality weatherstripping products. If you're fairly handy around the house, you can probably install them with ease or you might have your handyman do it.
- Cost and lifetime – are more expensive, combining the durability of vinyl with the look of wood or metal to match the style of your doors and windows.
- Ease of installation – are slightly more difficult to install because you've got to nail or screw the wood or metal which requires more tools and skill using them.
- Description – combine multiple materials to provide a more elegant weatherstripping solution. You may find what you're looking for at a hardware store or ask to see a catalog and order through the store if possible.
There are special weatherstripping products for the bottom of the door. We'll cover door sweeps and threshold seals in another article to follow shortly.
mentioning the very essential thing – what measurement we need to take – would be very helpful. I regularly go to the store and discover the measurements I took aren’t the measurements I need. It those details that are constantly left out of most ‘how to’s’ I have read or watched. And often, I go to the store, having read all the different options I have, making the best choice for me, and discovering the store only supplies 2 choices so knowing there were 10 options out there does me very little good.
OK, fair critique but that’s another article that I’ve added to my list. For now let me offer the following advice as there isn’t a simple answer.
You always want to take measurements before heading to the store. I recommend drawing pictures of each window & door that needs weatherstripping. Measure the height and width, placing the numbers on your pictures. Add up the 4 sides and put that number in the middle. So a window 2 ft wide x 6 ft tall = 16 ft but you want to add 5-10% or more for the little pieces left after you cut strips to fit.
When you go to the store, you want to read the directions as some weatherstripping goes on one side … others on both sides so you need double the length you measured. My suggestion is to only do 1 or 2 windows to start, to see if you’re comfortable with the installation and you like the results.
You might also buy 2 different types of weatherstripping and compare them … before picking one to install throughout your home.
Hope this helps.
Good article describing where weatherstripping comes in handy!
I never knew there were so many different kinds to choose from. Our house could use some of these in all of our windows and doors
Samantha, Don’t bite off too big a project. Start with just the doors or maybe the 1 or 2 rooms where you spend most of your time (except bedrooms because you can snuggle under the blankets).
This is awesome! I think it’s nice that there’s a device that can help you maintain your home without having to call someone and pay for a consultation fee. It’s a must have for home owners!
Thanks Elizabeth. This is exactly what I’m trying to do with Home Tips for Women, help you learn which projects you can handle yourself … and when it’s time to call a pro.
my family up north could def use this product. it gets so cold up there and this would def help them save money on the heat.
Dawn, Please pass along a link to the article, as that’s the goal of Home Tips, to help people manage their homes more effectively.
These are great ideas and tips! Anything to help save on your heating bill! I have used the clear plastic and you don’t something as little as that would help, but it does!
I enjoyed learning about the different options! It is important to get the best weather stripping for the job.
We love tips like this. For new homeowners, info like this is invaluable!
What a great idea! Those weatherstripping looks easy to install. Bookmarked this.
I didn’t know such thing existed lols. I should go and check each of our windows. Thanks for sharing!
This is great to know! I will keep this in mind.
I’d never even heard of weather stripping before, thanks for informing me! Might have to get my partner on to this job.
Yes, you will save money with the right weatherstripping.
Thank you for the info and the choices and the HOW TO… A very useful tip, especially for Dad ‘s out there.
Weather stripping looks so easy to install. I need to have my husband do this.
Good article describing where weatherstripping is most effective and examining various products and prices. That’s a good point to verify you have proper ventilation beforehand.