Save Money and Energy By Sealing Your Doorways From Drafts

by heather

Living in a historic home means I’m constantly battling against drafts. Now that winter really is on its way, I thought it was time to devote an entire article on how to seal doorways from drafts.

If you live in a brand new home, then chances are your doorways are sealed tightly already. But if your home is older, then you might have some work to do.

How To Find Doorway Drafts

To see if your doorways need to be sealed from drafts, use this handy tip: grab a partner and a flashlight. At night, have your partner go stand outside while you run your flashlight around the edges of all your doorways. If your partner can see light coming through the cracks, then cold air can get into your home.

Another nifty trick you can use is the Kleenex test. Gently tape a Kleenex to a wire hanger, and then steadily hold the hook of the wire hanger around your doorway. If the kleenex flutters at all, then air is coming in from outside.

The Kleenex test can also be used around windows, electrical outlets, air conditioners and switches to find drafts.

How To Seal Against Drafts

If you found some drafts in your doorways, then welcome to the club. Most people do (including myself!)

Fortunately, sealing them up isn’t that expensive to do, and there are several ways you can go about doing it.

Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping your doors is a great way to seal it against drafts. It’s fairly easy to install, and is much more cost effective than buying a new door.

Now, there are many different types of weatherstripping and sealants you can consider, and different doorways will need different types of sealing.

For instance, installing a harder doorsweep (like bronze or hard plastic) on a front door could erode your carpeting, since that’s the door that gets used the most. Conversly, sticking non-porous closed-cell tape around this door might not work either, since this type of weatherstripping is best used for doors that get little traffic (the tape can come off easily).

I’ll explain how to install the easiest fixes, but the more complex projects I’ll leave to the experts; I’ll include videos that clearly show how to install each type of weatherstripping.

So, let’s look at the different types of weatherstripping, and what doorways they work best for.

Foam Tape Weatherstripping

Foam tape is fairly inexpensive, and probably the easiest weatherstripping to install. But, this works best in doorways that get little traffic.

The reason is because the foam tape stays in place with adhesive backing. This means that if your door is constantly opening and closing, it won’t take long before the foam starts to fall off.

To install this, all you’re going to do is measure the inside of your doorway, and then cut four strips at the length you need. The tape will go inside the doorjamb.

It’s best if you clean the doorjamb with a little bit of soap and water before you apply the taping. If the surface is dirty, the adhesive isn’t going to make a good seal, and will fall off quicker.

Spring Metal Strips

Spring metal strips come in long rolls, and are available in bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, or copper. It’s fairly inexpensive (Amazon.com sells Ace’s brand for around $6), but if you need a lot this will quickly add up.

Spring metal strips go on the outside of your door, and they work fairly well for keeping out drafts. They’re more durable than the adhesive backed foam, and can be put on doors with heavier traffic. This is a great option for a front door.

Now, there are two kinds of spring metal strips. The first kind is attached to the doorway with nails. This type does take some patience to install.

The other kind is self-adhesive.

This is one project I’ll leave to the experts to explain: click here for detailed instructions. Spring metal strip instructions are about half-way down the page.

Doorsweeps

Doorsweeps go, as you can imagine, on the bottom of the door. They’re usually made out of aluminum, stainless steel, or bronze, and have a vinyl, plastic, or felt flap at the bottom which overhangs to the floor just a bit. It’s the hanging flap which seals the bottom of the doorway from drafts.

This great YouTube video clearly shows how to install a doorsweep.

Adjust Your Door Sill

Some homes have adjustable door sills, which allow you to narrow the gap (if you have one) at the bottom of your door. By twisting the screws at the top of the door, you can adjust the door will up or down. For those lucky few of you who have this option, you should try this first.

This excellent YouTube video shows you exactly how to do it.

More On How To Install Weatherstripping

If you’d like written instructions on how to do some these projects, the Do It Yourself Network (DIY) has a wonderful page that clearly explains how to install the various types of weatherstripping. You can find that page here if you’d like to know exactly how to do these projects in your own home.

Make Door Drapes

Here’s a neat fact: before homes had forced air heat and air conditioning, people made door drapes to keep their home’s temperature stable. They used heavy materials, like thick tapestry, to seal entry ways.

We can take this “oldie but goody” tip and use it to help save money now. For instance, if flannel or polar fleece goes on super-sale at your local crafts shop, then buy a mess of it and make your own hanging tapestries.

During the day (when you’re going in and out of a high traffic door) they can be pulled off to the side. At night, pull them over the doorway to seal out the cold air.

It’s also smart to keep them open when sunlight is streaming in, which allows the rays to naturally heat your home (as well as giving you some much needed Vitamin D this time of year!).

Now you can buy insulated curtains, which usually have multiple layered panels, but these are usually made for windows, and are quite pricey. The cost averages out to at least $100 per window for these, which is why it’s often cheaper to make your own.

If any of you have some nifty tricks for insulating your doorways from cold drafts, I’d love to share them with other readers!

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Chris November 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm

When I was growing up my dad always took an old pair of jeans and cut the leg off stuffed it with (whatever fabric was handy) and used it to block air from coming under the door. Of course now a days you can buy them, but either way that is a great way to keep cold air out in line with your tip for door sweeps. I really liked this post and think this is a great way to save money and stay warm/cool.

heather November 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Chris,

That’s an awesome tip! After writing this article I thought about making some of those doorway draft blockers, but my complete lack of sewing ability held me back. But the jean idea is something I could totally do, and I’m sure many other people could to. Thanks a lot!

Heather

Anderson January 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

My old front door leaked so much cold air that I just went and got a new one.

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