Weatherproofing Doors and Windows

Drafty doors and windows not only make for an uncomfortable home – especially in the winter months – but also drive up heating bills. Installing weather stripping and door sweeps are easy projects that can make a big difference.


One of the easiest fixes for a drafty door is to apply adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to the inside of the door stop as pictured above. The foam stripping is inexpensive. “Installing” the adhesive-backed strips is as easy as peeling the tape off the adhesive side of the foam and pressing the strip against the door stop. Typically this project will take less than 30 minutes per door. Make sure the foam is thick enough to seal the gap around the door.


If cold air leaks in at the bottom of the door, installing a new sweep is usually the best solution. Sweeps are available for both interior and exterior doors and come in a variety of styles. Additionally, sweeps can be installed with screws, nails or peel and stick adhesive strips. Installation with screws is typically the best and most long-lasting. Peel and stick adhesive strips typically don’t hold up to the friction of the opening and closing of the door.

Slide-on and staple-on sweeps require the door to be removed for installation. Wrap around door sweeps typically can be installed without removing the door. Be sure to drill small pilot holes for the screws for the best installation of screw-on sweeps.

Snap-on or pressure fit sweeps will generally hold up longer than those installed with peel and stick strips but not as long as sweeps stapled, nailed or screwed to the door.

Be sure to purchase a sweep with sweeps that are long enough, but not too long, for your door’s gap.

If you’re on a really tight budget, a rolled up blanket or towel can help block under-door drafts.

There are even more types of weather stripping for windows than there are for doors – in part because there are so many different types of windows. A relatively recent development that works in most applications is removable caulk. Sometimes called “rope caulk,” this product can be easily installed in or on virtually any clean surface. Once the weather warms up, and you want to open the window, simply peel away the rope caulk and toss it in the trash.


In addition to the typical, easy-to-see areas, a window might also be leaking air from behind the trim. Most window installers utilize an expanding foam product to insulate around the outside edges of a window before the window is trimmed out. Depending on the installer, however, this doesn’t always happen.


The expanding foam around the window pictured above is yellow and has been properly installed. You’ll need to pull off a trim board to determine if your window installer utilized expanding foam. To remove a trim piece, pry the board carefully with a thin pry bar. You may also want to place a four-inch square piece of 1/8″ or 1/4″ plywood under the fulcrum of the pry bar to avoid damaging your drywall. Start at one end of the trim board and carefully work your way toward the other end.

If you’ve tried all of these methods and still feel cold air around your windows, it may be the windows themselves. Older windows and lower quality windows simply don’t have the same insulating abilities as newer, higher quality windows. Although a window replacement project isn’t inexpensive, the savings on your heating bill and the additional comfort in your home can certainly justify the cost.