My Winter Chore: Weather-Stripping
On the day before Thanksgiving, an able crew completed the task of repairing and repainting my home’s wood siding. Over the past 14 years, the sun had faded the yellow body and green shutters, and the dogs (when puppies) had chewed a few of the lowest planks of siding. Planks in disrepair had to be removed and new ones installed before the painting began.
As with any home repair job, a few wrinkles slowed down the progress, including an occasional rain shower. So, when the project was complete one day before our Thanksgiving deadline, I was impressed, relieved and thankful.
On the day after Thanksgiving, I noticed light peeking through at the front door. I’d been aware of the need for new weather-stripping before the painting began, but in the frenzy of choosing colors, cutting back shrubbery, and comparing siding prices, I completely overlooked the need for new seals.
So now it’s back to the home repair drawing board.
Along with completing an attractive look for my newly painted home, I’m counting on weather-stripping to keep out the cold air in winter and hot air in summer—and to lower my power bill in the meantime.
To prepare for this New Year’s task, I’ve been doing my homework. Who knew there was so much to learn about weather-stripping?
Only my front and back doors need this attention, and I want to choose materials that will best hold up to the friction produced by opening and closing doors, along with weather and seasonal changes in temperature. First and foremost, I want weather-stripping that will seal the tightest when the doors are closed but still allow them to open and close with ease.
Ah, the choices!
Some types of stripping, such as felt or foam, are inexpensive but not the most efficient in blocking airflow. Vinyl weather-stripping resists moisture well, making its case for paying a little more. Metals are affordable, also, and last a long time.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the most common weather-stripping options:
- Felt: Easy to place and the least expensive, felt weather-stripping can be tacked, glued or stapled into the door jamb. For a more durable felt, try all-wool, which costs a bit more but is better at preventing airflow.
- Tape: When applied to doors and windows that are not used much, this low-cost option is a good one. It’s easy to install but doesn’t provide the most durable seal.
- Foam: More difficult to install because it must be sawed, nailed and painted, reinforced foam provides effective sealing at a relatively low cost.
- Tension seal: Invisible when installed, this durable option comes in vinyl (sometimes self-adhesive), copper, aluminum or stainless steel and is durable and relatively simple to install.
- Vinyl: Rolled or reinforced vinyl is easily installed and moderately priced.
- Rubber and vinyl tubes: Placed around a door, vinyl or sponge rubber tubes can be effective as doors press against them to form a seal. Cost is moderate to high.
- Reinforced silicone: Similar to vinyl tubes, reinforced silicone comes as a tubular gasket attached to a metal strip that’s applied on a doorjamb or window stop. The seal is good, but installation requires cutting metal and the cost is higher than other options.
- Magnetic: One of the most effective sealers, magnetic weather-stripping works like refrigerator gaskets and can be applied to the sides and top of doors and on double-hung and sliding windows. It’s among the most effective choices, so expect to pay more.
- Interlocking metal channels: For professional installation only, this option for doors provides the best in a seal but comes with the higher price to achieve it. Oh, how I’d love the interlocking metal channels, but their price turns me back to felt or foam.
I’ll probably do this job myself, using tips for application from Energy Saver:
- When preparing to purchase weather-stripping, add the perimeters of doors and windows to be stripped and add 5-10 percent for waste.
- Follow instructions on materials packaging.
- Apply stripping to clean, dry surfaces when temps are above 20 degrees.
- When weather-stripping doors, apply a continuous strip along each side, making sure stripping meets tightly at the corners.
Happy New Year—and happy home repairs, too!
Jackie Kennedy has worked with Georgia’s electric cooperatives for 23 years, producing newsletters, press releases and articles about the industry or energy-related matters. She is the author of People, Power, Progress: The Story of Jackson EMC, published in 2013. In her blog, she grapples with a variety of energy efficiency topics.