How to Weather-Strip a Door

Put an end to drafts and maximize your home’s heating and cooling efficiency by installing weather stripping around exterior doors.

snowy white porch with wood and black door

John Gruen

Whether you’ve physically felt a draft in your home or you’ve simply felt its effects on your wallet, a lack of weather stripping around exterior doors can have a significant impact on your home’s ability to efficiently maintain a comfortable climate. A doorway that lacks weather stripping or has old, damaged weather stripping is susceptible to unwanted air movement around the perimeter of the door. Additionally, properly installed weather stripping can keep dust and pests from getting into your home, leading to an all-around cleaner and more comfortable environment. 

Weather stripping is quick and easy to install yourself, so there’s no need to make a call to a contractor or handyman. Just follow the steps below to put your home on the path toward comfort and efficiency.

Types of Door Weather Stripping

There are many types of weather stripping for doors, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The steps below outline how to install foam weather stripping with an adhesive backing, but the general idea can be applied to many types of weather stripping with some slight adjustments. Here are a few of the most common types of weather stripping for doors: 

  • Felt Weather Stripping: Felt is a classic type of weather stripping known for its low price and ease of installation. However, with a low price comes a low lifespan. 
  • Foam Weather Stripping: Foam is the modern answer to felt weather stripping. It’s equally easy to install and comes with a similarly low price, yet it lasts much longer and seals much better. For this reason, many homeowners opt for foam weather stripping for doors.
  • Aluminum and Vinyl Weather Stripping: Aluminum and vinyl weather stripping consists of an aluminum strip that’s mounted to the outside of a door jamb with an attached vinyl weather stripping that presses against the outside of the door. It’s slightly more difficult to install and more expensive than felt and foam varieties but creates a very tight seal that lasts a long time. 
  • Aluminum and Vinyl Door Sweep: An aluminum and vinyl door sweep is a piece that mounts to the bottom of the door to keep air and pests from passing through the gap between the door and floor.

How to Weather-Strip a Door

Installing door weather stripping is one of the simpler home improvement projects you’ll come across, though we have a few tips and tricks that will help to ensure the job is done right. Keep in mind that the installation process may vary slightly depending on the age of your home, and the process of removing old weather stripping will vary depending on the type that’s currently installed. 

What You Need

  • Foam weather stripping roll
  • Aluminum and vinyl door sweep
  • Stiff scraper or flat pry bar
  • Dish soap and water
  • Rag
  • 220-grit sandpaper (optional)
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Hacksaw
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Marker

Step 1: Remove Any Old Weather Stripping

If your exterior door currently has damaged weather stripping in place, you’ll have to remove it before installing new material. Use a stiff scraper to remove foam or felt weather stripping or a small flat pry bar to remove nailed varieties. 

Editor's Tip: A heat gun or hair dryer will soften the adhesive, making it easier to remove foam and felt weather stripping while minimizing the amount of residue left in the jamb. 

Step 2: Clean the Door Jamb

New weather stripping won’t properly adhere to a dirty door jamb, which will compromise the seal. Remove any residue from the door jamb, then thoroughly clean dirt and grease with soapy water and let dry. For tough residue, lightly sand using 220-grit sandpaper.

Step 3: Adjust Your Door

Even perfectly installed weather stripping has a hard time sealing if your door needs an adjustment. Ensure all hinge screws are tightened and the strike plate is close enough to the jamb to close any unnecessary gaps.

Step 4: Install Door Weather Stripping

Unroll the foam weather stripping and place the end at the bottom of one side of the jamb. Remove the tape from the back of the foam and press the adhesive backing firmly against the jamb with the end against the floor. Remove the tape gradually as you press the foam into the jamb, moving upward toward the top of the door. Once you reach the top, cut the foam with scissors or a utility knife. Repeat this process on the opposite side, then once more at the top of the door jamb. 

Step 5: Install Door Sweep

Because there’s no surface for the bottom of the door to rest against, a door sweep is necessary to prevent drafts and pests from traveling through the space below the door. With the door closed, hold the metal frame of the door sweep against the bottom of the door with the vinyl sweep against the floor. Mark the holes in the metal on the door. 

If the sweep is too long, mark the metal at the edge of the door, then cut to size using a hacksaw to cut through the metal and a utility knife to cut through the vinyl. Predrill the holes for the screws on the door at each mark, then screw the door sweep in place. Open and close the door to ensure the sweep allows for the door to swing freely and adjust if necessary.

How to Maintain Weather Stripping

For the most part, weather stripping doesn’t need maintenance. The best thing you can do is simply replace it once it starts to deteriorate. However, keeping your weather stripping clean and free of debris will help to ensure it seals as tightly as possible. Refrain from painting the weather stripping when you paint your door and door jamb and allow the paint on the door to thoroughly dry before you close the door against the weather stripping. 

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