How to: Weather strip your windows and doors

Winter is here, and with it comes unwanted guests: drafts. Send drafts away with the help of weather stripping.

Many windows and doors in our homes have spots where warm air escapes. To make up for the loss, we tend to turn up the thermostat to keep our home temperature balanced – but it’s a balance that can prove to be costly. Luckily there’s an affordable solution to help you save money from escaping: weather stripping.


Why weather stripping?

While the small holes, gaps and spaces in your home may not seem like much on their own, when you add them together they can make a big impact. In fact, when added up, they can equal the size of a basketball!

Holes and spaces make your furnace work harder and your home less comfortable. Applying weather stripping is an easy solution to better insulate your home and decrease your heating bill. Plus, it’s a cost-effective solution you can easily do on your own.


Tip: Weather stripping is beneficial all year-round. In the summer, it will ensure that the cool air from your air conditioner stays indoors.

To get started, search for drafts

An easy way to tell if a window or door needs weather stripping is to place your hand close to the window or door frame and feel for cool air. Make sure to put your hand all around the frame. While it may be airtight on three sides, the fourth side could be letting a cool draft in.


Energy-efficient windows can help cut down on energy costs and keep your home comfortable. Learn more by reading our Windows Buying Guide.


Keep this tip in mind: doing your draft check on a windy day will make it easier for you to identify areas that require weather stripping.

What kinds of weather stripping are available?

There are a wide variety of weather stripping materials available to cover up just about any gap, space or hole. From foam and felt, to metals and vinyl, here are a few kinds to consider when draft proofing your home.


Adhesive-Backed Tape:
Made of foam or rubber, this weatherstripping may be the kind with which you’re most familiar. Sold in a roll, it comes in a variety of different sizes and – as its name describes— has an adhesive back that is used to adhere around windows or doors. It is easy to install; however, it does require replacing more often than other types of weather stripping.


Felt:
Felt weather stripping may come as plain felt or as felt reinforced by a thin metal strip. It does not include an adhesive backing so it must be stapled into place around a window or door. Although it is more durable than the adhesive-backed tape, it usually lasts one to two years and is susceptible to moisture and wear and tear.


V-Strips:
Made of metal or vinyl, this weather stripping is long-lasting. Many V-Strips come with an adhesive back, which makes them easy to install. V-Strips are a good option for high-traffic areas as they are durable and do not stand out.


Tubular Rubber or Vinyl
While it requires more work to install, tubular weather stripping can last about five years. This type is useful for areas that require more closure as the tubes of rubber or vinyl create a tight seal when a door or window is pressed against them.


Door Sweeps
If a draft is entering from the bottom of your door, a door sweep can help keep the cool air out. Door sweeps can be made of a variety of materials from plastic, vinyl to a felt brush. They are installed along the bottom of a door and are relatively affordable and easy to install.


How do I choose the right type?

With so much variety, it may be difficult to decide which material is right for your needs. Keep these tips in mind when purchasing:


Location, location, location: Before purchasing weather stripping think about the needs of the location where you’re installing it. Is it a window in a high-traffic area? Is there a risk of the weather stripping getting wet? Different materials will perform better than others. Felt and foams are typically cheaper but they don’t hold up well to weather, plus they tend to be noticeable and may not mesh well with the décor of your room. Metals and vinyl are more expensive but are durable and weather resistant.


Sized, Sealed, Delivered: Weather stripping comes in a variety of depths and sizes. When choosing a product for your home, make sure it will seal well when the window or door is closed and that it won’t prevent it from easily opening.


Make sure it lasts: Choose weather stripping that can stand the test of time. Whether it’s temperature changes, weather or general wear and tear, look for durability especially when you’re comparing costs. A more expensive material may be worth it in the long run, as it may mean less wear and tear and a longer period before it needs replacing.


Tip: Looking to replace weather stripping around a window or door? Bring a piece of your weather stripping material with you to the store so you can be sure to purchase the correct type.


You can find weather stripping materials at most building supply stores. If you’re looking for high-quality weather stripping, reach out to window or door manufacturers or installers. They will be able to provide recommendations based on your specific needs.

Installation

Each weather stripping product has its own method of installation, and while some may be simple, others may require more work. Before you start installing it, always consult the instructions on the product packaging. However, no matter the type, keep these few tips in mind for smooth installation:

Make sure you have enough to complete the job. To determine how much you need, add the perimeters of the windows and doors that require weather stripping and then add 5 to 10 per cent for any possible waste1. It’s always better to have too much than not enough!

Apply weather stripping to clean and dry window and door surfaces, and ensure the product properly adheres. When applying to doors, use one long strip along each side and make sure that the weather stripping material meets tightly in the corners.

Don’t stop at weather stripping!

There is more you can do to increase your home’s efficiency. To further understand how your home uses energy and what other areas are causing air leakage, consider a home energy audit. A professional home auditor will conduct a variety of tests to help pinpoint problem areas in your home and identify projects you can complete to make your home more energy-efficient.

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