Guide to Home Weather Stripping

By: Beth Krietsch How to, Winter

One of the simplest and most effective ways to prepare your home for cooler temperatures is weather stripping your windows and doors to keep warm air in, cold air out, and energy bills under control.

No matter how much warmth is generated by your heaters or fireplaces, this heat will escape unless cracks and gaps in doors and windows are sealed with weather stripping. Weather stripping will save you an estimated 5%–10% on your utility bills and can even reduce noise transfer.

Cost and lifetime of weather stripping

Weather stripping is a quick and inexpensive way to regulate interior temperature and save on energy bills. Weatherstripping the average American home can cost anywhere between $90–$250.

Weather stripping is usually priced by the foot or in three-foot lengths, and runs anywhere from 75 cents per foot to $2 per foot, depending on material. The size of your home and number of doors and windows you choose to outfit will also affect overall price.

Most weather stripping will last 12 months to three years. Milder climates will support a longer lifetime, and cold, wet, or harsh climates will require more frequent replacement.

Does climate matter?

Along with affordability, climate is a primary consideration when deciding which type of weather stripping to use. Because weather stripping may come in contact with the elements, it must be climate-appropriate.

For high moisture areas, vinyl and metal weather stripping are each effective and durable options. Though they may be more expensive than other types of weather stripping, they’ll last longer against the elements. Felt and foam are simple to apply and cheaper, but are best used in mild climates.

Types of weather stripping

Weather stripping is one crucial component to a home’s overall energy efficiency. It comes in a variety of forms, and which type you need will depend on your climate.

  • Felt—An inexpensive option that can also be reinforced with metal. You’ll usually find felt weather stripping material sold in rolls, and you can staple, glue, or nail it in place after measuring and cutting to size. Felt isn’t as durable or effective as many other varieties of weather stripping, and shouldn’t be used in high moisture areas.
  • Foam tape—Available in an array of sizes and thicknesses, foam weather stripping is great for filling oddly shaped gaps and cracks. Foam tape weather stripping has an adhesive back, making it easy to adhere to the intended surface after measuring and cutting down to size. It’s one of the less expensive options, though not very durable and thus better for milder climates.
  • Magnetic—This type of weather stripping is an extremely effective air sealer and is best applied to the top and sides of doors, and double-hung and sliding window channels.
  • V strip (tension seal)—This type of weather stripping is a durable variety that works as a tension seal folded into the shape of a v. V strips need to be cut to size, then peeled and stuck into place. These are invisible when applied and are known to be highly effective, especially for cold and harsh climates.
  • Door sweep—Primarily used for gaps beneath your door, a door sweep fits between the bottom of the door and the sill or threshold. Door sweeps are made of aluminum, plastic, or stainless steel with a strip of plastic, vinyl, nylon, or sponge brush, and are usually installed with screws. Some varieties even retract automatically, which can make them more durable and reduce drag on a carpet in cases where the threshold is uneven.
  • Bulb threshold—Made of vinyl and aluminum, a bulb threshold is best for door thresholds. Although this type of weather stripping can wear down from foot traffic, it’s available in different heights and can be custom fit to your door.
  • Rubber or vinyl—Tubular in shape, this type of weather stripping forms a seal when pressed against a wall and is a good choice for blocking air passage. To install, you’ll either stick or nail the mounting strip—usually made of metal or wood—into place.

Tips for installing weather stripping

Weather stripping application varies according to the option you select to install. Here are three things to keep in mind before and during installation:

  1. Measure—Before purchasing your weather stripping, measure the perimeters of all windows and doors you plan to seal. Plan to purchase 5%–10% extra to account for mistakes.
  2. Prepare—Once you’re ready to get to work, clean and dry the application area. Keep in mind that for adhesive types of weather stripping, the temperature should be above 20°F for the strip to properly adhere.
  3. Install—Ensure the strip fits as flush and as snugly as possible and that it compresses upon closing the window or door. The weather stripping should not interfere with your ability to operate the window or door.

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