The Demise of Drafty Doors

With the winter winds blowing, it's a great time to turn your attention to ways you can save energy and keep your heating bills under control this season. When it comes to heat loss, drafty doors are a typical culprit. Cold air infiltrates from all four sides if a door is not weather-stripped. Installing a door weather-stripping kit to seal up the top and sides, plus a door sweep at the bottom, is a straightforward project that homeowners can do with a few basic tools. Here's how to go about it:

Tools Needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • 1½" finish nails (galvanized or stainless steel, if outdoors)
  • Miter box
  • Utility knife

Step 1

With the door closed, measure the length of the head jamb (the jamb is the frame around your door) from inside edge to inside edge.

Step 2

On the short piece of weather stripping, use a pencil to mark the length you just measured. Cut the piece to this length by first cutting the vinyl with a utility knife and then using a saw and miter box to cut the wood. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!)

  • Tip: If you want to paint the wood carrier strips to match your woodwork, consider painting them before installing.

Step 3

With the door closed, place the weather stripping flat against the top jamb, with the foam touching the door. The foam should be compressed, but not so much that it will make the door hard to close.

Step 4

Attach the strip by nailing the wood carrier. Use a nail 2 or 3 inches from each end and about every 12 inches in between.

Step 5

Measure the height of the side jamb, from the bottom side of the top piece of weather stripping—which you just installed—to the threshold.

Step 6

Cut one of the long pieces to the length you just measured, using the same procedure as Step 2. With the door closed, place the weather strip against the door with the foam slightly compressed and nail it to the jamb, as you did in Steps 3 and 4.

Door Weather Stripping Kit (store pickup only)
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Step 7

Measure the other side (the two sides may differ slightly in height) and repeat.

When you're done, you will be more comfortable, and your time will be well rewarded with savings on your heating bill as well. Any door that leads from a heated space to an unheated space should be weatherstripped.

You can also download these instructions in PDF format.

For a comprehensive look at your home's energy use and opportunities for savings, schedule a free home energy audit from Renew Boston, Co-op Power, or Mass Save.