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HERE'S HOW- Install High-quality Interlocking Weatherstripping PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pat Logan   
Thursday, 14 February 2013 03:19

Dear Pat: The doors in my parents' old house had interlocking weatherstripping, and it sealed very well. Is it still available, and how can I install this type of seal on the doors in my newer home? — Karen C.

Dear Karen: Before plastics and other synthetic materials were available, metal interlocking weatherstripping was commonly used on entry doors. It still is the most durable and best-sealing type of weatherstripping for doors, even considering all the newest synthetic materials available. It is a wise choice for areas prone to severe and high-wind weather conditions.

Metal interlocking door weatherstripping is available at most home center stores. Your parents' door probably used weatherstripping made from bronze. Bronze weatherstripping is still available today, but it costs about three times as much as zinc weatherstripping, which holds up almost as well as bronze.

Interlocking weatherstripping does not require a difficult installation procedure for an existing door, but it does require precision. If done properly, the door will open and close easily with a super-tight seal. If it is off just a little, it will still seal fairly well, but you will notice the pieces do not interlock smoothly.

There are two types of interlocking metal weatherstripping available. Simple interlocking metal channels are the easiest to install, and they seal almost as well as J-strips, which are more difficult to install. The advantage of J-strips is they are recessed into the edge of the door. This makes them less susceptible to damage from children or when large objects are moved through the door opening. The channel-type weatherstripping is nailed to the face of the door near its edges, and the mating piece is nailed to the door frame jamb. The male half of the interlocking channel is mounted on the door along the top and the lock sides. On the hinge side of the door, the male half is mounted on the doorjamb. This results in smoother movement as the door closes. In order to install J-strip or any other type of recessed metal weatherstripping, it helps to have a power saw to create the recess (rabbet). A router can be used, but it may cause more tear-out on certain types of wood doors.

Another option is to use a handsaw, which was how they are were installed many years ago. The best type to use is a kerfing handsaw. Since you may not use this for many other projects, try renting one at a tool rental shop. If you want to buy one, they are available from Metal Weatherstripping at 800-536-6043. The portion of the interlocking weatherstripping that mounts in the doorjamb is not recessed.

When making the recessed saw cut in the edge of the door, tilt the blade so there is about a 25-degree undercut. This provides clearance for the interlocking mating piece when the door closes. Make a second saw cut slightly deeper to provide a nice pocket for the strip. If this sounds like more than you can handle, but you still want durable metal weatherstripping, consider installing a spring strip. This is a V-shaped metal strip with one leg longer than the other. The long leg is nailed in the doorjamb with the V pointing indoors. When the door swings shut against it, the short leg springs against the edge of the door.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit