Replacing Wornout Weather Stripping

A line drawing of a house with a coil of yellow and white weather stripping.

Weatherstripping seals the space around your windows and doors while still allowing them to function. It is possible to save a significant amount on your power bill with the proper use of weather stripping. It can keep your cool air or heat inside. Weatherstripping can also keep unwanted critters from gaining easy access to your home. When installed properly, it works wonderfully but doesn’t last forever. And if you have cracks or holes in your weatherstripping, you might not be getting all the benefits from it.

Knowing When to Replace It

A coil of worn and dirty weather stripping

You should give your weatherstripping a good check about once a year. You can do a quick check when it gets cooler outside by running your hand around the perimeter of the door or window. If you feel a draft, you may need to replace your stripping. Different types of weatherstripping show wear in different ways. Here are a few common types and how to recognize problems with them:

V-shaped or tension seal weatherstripping is usually metal and can bend or crack when it gets overused.

Self-adhesive foam tape may separate from the door or window frame completely. The foam could also deteriorate and allow a gap to form. Foam tape is a fairly inexpensive option, so it will likely show wear sooner.

Rubber weatherstripping can get dry and cracked over time. When it does start to deteriorate, it’s time to replace it.

Vinyl weatherstripping shows wear in much the same way as rubber. It dries out and breaks apart.

Replacing Existing Weather Stripping

Step 1 - Remove the Existing Weather Stripping

Begin by removing the remnants of the worn-out weatherstripping. You can peel away adhesive weatherstripping. Other types may require you to remove nails or screws.

Step 2 - Prep the Area for the New Material

Clean up the area. Use adhesive remover on areas where you previously had foam tape weatherstripping. Fill in nail and screw holes. Then, give the area light sanding to prepare it for the new installation.

Step 3 - Measure the Space

A man measuring weather stripping against a windowed door.

Measure the area all the way to the corners twice to make sure you have the proper amount of stripping. You don’t want to waste any!

Step 4 - Cut the Necessary Length

Then, cut your weatherstripping of choice with a razor, scissors, or metal shears. The cut should be a continuous piece from one corner to another, making a complete seal.

Step 5 - Apply the New Stripping

A man installing weather stripping in a window

Put the weatherstripping in place, according to the type. For adhesives, peel the backing off and apply. Peel the adhesive off as you go, so it doesn’t stick somewhere it shouldn’t. Other kinds of weatherstripping require nails or screws. For these, there will be holes in the proper place to secure them.

Step 6 - Check Your Work

Test the connection by opening and closing the door or window. If it seems too difficult to open or shut, you may need to reconsider the type or size of weatherstripping.

If Your Door or Window Still Won't Seal

If you only notice a crack on one side of the door, your door may not be completely straight in its frame, also known as out of plumb, You also can lift the door handle to check for this problem. If you lift it and the door moves, no amount of weatherstripping can truly fix the problem. Try getting your door set plumb before installing your weatherstripping. If the gap runs all the way across you may have gotten the wrong size stripping or another possibility is that you just need to loosen the screws in your weatherstripping so that the two sides will meet up.

If Your Door Won't Close

It may seem like the tighter the seal, the better it will hold. However, if the weather stripping is too compacted, it could cause problems. If the door still won't close, you might have your weatherstripping too compressed. The goal is for the two pieces to compress slightly. This is a common mistake.