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Community and Q&A

Serious weatherizing of exterior doors

fitchplate | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Gents … I am surprised that I cannot find internet guidance on optimum door sealing design, tested methods and materials. I have a mid-range Lowe’s back entrance door facing NW that allows some air in at the bottom corner all the time and when it’s windy the air leak spreads up the jamb and across the threshold.

I have considered the following solutions:

– over-center compression latches – one at upper and one at lower ends of lock side of the door to push the door against the stops
– an aftermarket metal threshold jamb that pusheson the door base
– a new 5 or 6 fin bottom sweep
– corner pads on the two bottom corners (the most common point of air leaks on all doors, I understand, is the bottom corners)

I looked at Passive House sites and found nothing inspiring.

My front door is the same quality but not exposed to the wind. I was able to make it pretty tight with a strike plate adjustment but I will probably do the threshold stop and corner pads there as well.

What say ye?


PS my very well airsealed and insulated house has passive/manually controlled air inlets in strategic places for fresh air ventilatin and make up air at the neutral pressure plane as well as near the wood stove, dryer, range hood vented areas so I don’t need the fugitive infiltration at the doors.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Wealthy homeowners who care about air leakage at doors buy European doors with multi-point latches. Some Passivhaus builders praise Drewexim doors from Poland; these doors cost less than German doors. (For more on Drewexim doors, see Visiting Energy-Smart Designers and Builders in Maine.)

    American exterior doors with a single-point latch can be difficult to air-seal. The usual approach is just what you are doing -- adjusting the strike plate location as necessary, and fiddling with after-market weatherstripping to try to limit the worst air leaks.

  2. charlie_sullivan | | #2

    There are also "multi-point" locks available on US-made doors, or as retrofits. They pull and hold the door in at top and bottom, various places and various ways. It's much more expensive and involved to install than adding extra latches, but it's more convenient and is safer as an egress door in an emergency, since one handle undoes all the latches.

    One manufacturer:

    You might find the answers to my related question a while back interesting:

  3. Expert Member

    Multi-point locks have just become code here in BC. They add about $500 to cost of each door (!), but they sure make them a lot tighter.
    From what I can see looking at the exposed bits on the jamb, the mechanisms look quite complex. I wonder if this is going to mean hiring a locksmith or other specialist when things go wrong, rather than doing what we do now and just head to the hardware store?

  4. user-3133848 | | #4

    After thirty-plus years in the millwork biz, I'm most impressed with Endura's Trilennium multi-point lock system. They cover single and double doors at both 1 3/4" and 2 1/4" thickness, with lever/lever or lever at interior and handle grip/ thumb latch at exterior. Multiple finishes and styles. They work great and can be installed over-riding the typical double bore . . . but they do take extra work from a very skilled installer. Best system for pulling sloppy doors into tighter alignment with the weather-stripping surfaces.

  5. user-1135248 | | #5

    I've definitely found that single-point doors will slowly warp back
    under pressure from weatherstripping, and have added "stress bars"
    to the interior sides of mine to counteract that and push at least
    one corner back into alignment. Looks a little "industrial", but
    it works.

    I'm skeptical of sill sweeps/bulbs since as a sliding fit they will
    eventually wear out; a threshold compression piece along the bottom
    is definitely the better answer but introduces a small inconvenience
    that you have to step over it and be careful not to kick or bump the
    weatherstripping on its face and mangle it.

    And the Endura "corner pads" definitely help, *if* you have that type
    of weatherstripping that they nest with. But even with mine I had to
    add a couple of small pieces of stick-on foam gasket in strategic
    spots around them to stop all the airflow.


  6. charlie_sullivan | | #6

    I suppose if you aren't particular about how it looks, you could simply install two extra ordinary lever-handle door latches, one at the top and one at the bottom, and have a rod connecting the ends of those levers to the lever handle on the regularly positioned lockset, so that when you open the ordinary one, all three open. Closing it would likely require an extra push at the top and at the bottom, to get them to latch. It would mean you'd cut two extra holes in the door, and the heat loss through those holes might be more than the gain from better sealing, unless you omit the exterior handles and cover over those spots with extra insulation--like some of that R6 housewrap stuff (just kidding).

  7. fitchplate | | #7

    Hobbit ... Home Depot has some basic corner pads and I can modify them to fit; the Endura's are not expensive but $16 to deliver a $3 item is tough to swallow (All about

    When I go for new doors, I will go up market and might bite the cost of the Endura three point locking system. But for the time being I found a good price on Southco's over center compression latch designed for gasketed doors. I will mount two on the door (top and bottom) with the latch on the casing.

    These compression latches are typically found on freezes and commercial coolers. Will use them at night and during storms on the back door and less publicly used entrance door. I will avoid this weather side entrance during winter windy season. Its too fine a view for a permanent fence or evergreen tree, wind break close to the house. Use XPS fabric covered, velcro insulation panels on the north and west windows and doors.

  8. fitchplate | | #8

    Here is an "automatic door bottom" (self adjusting spring loaded gasket) for a reasonable price and it can be retrofit. Provided its good quality.

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