GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Air sealing entry door

KurtGranroth | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

I have a bog-standard exterior door that I want to completely air seal.  We’re talking air-tight to the level that I wouldn’t see any difference if I taped up all gaps with Wigluv — i.e., no air at all getting through.  And to be honest, most of my reason for wanting to do this is centered around keeping out the bugs (scorpions in particular) and I figure that air molecules are much much smaller than any bug and if I can keep the air out, I can definitely keep even the most devious of the bugs out.

I would think that this would have an obvious and well traveled solution but it appears that most people have a far more laissez-faire attitude about it.  90% of the guides just talk about installing weather-stripping around the jambs and then adding a door sweep/shoe.  The remaining 10% will recognize that air will STILL get through in this case, by going around the threshold seal in the corners.  But the solution here is to put random amounts of felt or get some cheap foam corner wedge.  Well, I’ve tried a few of the corner wedges from the box stores and at best they do a not-terrible job (but far from great) and they get seriously chewed up by the door closing.

Mind you, I have created one completely air-tight door before in the guise of my home theater door — but that required stops going all the way around the door (even the bottom) to put a continuous non-gapped layer of weather-stripping that the door tightly presses into.  That lower stop won’t cut it for an exterior door.

Surely a solution must exist… but what is it?

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.

Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    Kurt,

    You can improve an in-swing door by adding a hardwood threshold on the outside flush with the jambs, so y0u can run gaskets continually around the whole perimeter - much as you find on out-swing doors.

    The downside is it may not be as good handling wind-blown rain, but I'd imagine if you are somewhere with scorpions, it's somewhere pretty dry.

    1. KurtGranroth | | #5

      Thanks, Malcom. Having a bottom stop with a continuous perimeter gasket definitely would work and it's what I did successfully with my theater door. My concern is that this is an exterior door and I simply have never seen such a thing done there.

      I've assumed that it was not done due to the style of access through an exterior door. That is, having an abrupt stop on my theater door is okay since everybody just steps over the threshold. It's notably more common to "roll" something over an exterior door threshold, though, and it seems like the stop would get in the way of that. But maybe I'm just making that up in my head and maybe the real reason it's uncommon is because of the potential of rain being driven in?

      Do you know if this is actually done anywhere, maybe in passive homes?

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    Get your self a Pemko or Zero International door seal catalog and decide where you want to stop.

    Overall, I've had very good results with traditional door sealing methods backed by a perimeter compression seal.

    By traditional I mean spring bronze weather stripping inside the door jambs. With a properly fitted and adjusted door, these seal well and last forever.

    I would also 2nd the hardwood threshold.

    1. KurtGranroth | | #7

      Thanks, Akos. I'll admit that I hadn't even considered using the bronze spring weather stripping since I've only ever seen them referenced in terms of "old homes" -- that is, I broadly assumed that they were an inefficient older technology that has been replaced by the more efficient "modern" elements. I'll have to research that option more. My base assumption is that it wouldn't do as good of a job as the flexible options since metal to metal connections are rarely air-tight -- time to learn if that's wrong!

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #9

        You won't get passive house type of air tightness with them but they work suprisingly well.

        The benefit of spring bronze is that it doesn't rely on the door staying dead flat to seal. This is important when you have wood doors that tend to bend and twist with humidity changes.

        Modern seals work better for some situations, but they will never outlast a bronze one. On my home, they seal well enough that you can't feel any draft on the perimeter. The only spot you do is by hinges and door lock where you can't put them. That is why you need a backup compression seal.

        The V shaped ones with adhesive are much less work to install.

  3. Ian Schwandt | | #3

    An additional option to add to the hardwood threshold would be a bronze interlocking threshold that would have a mating interlock on the underside of the door. Combining this with Akos suggestion of spring bronze weather stripping should get you scorpion proof. I have had good luck purchasing spring bronze and interlocking thresholds from Kilianhardware.com

    1. KurtGranroth | | #6

      Thanks, Ian. I wasn't aware of interlocking thresholds -- those look interesting!

      I've spent a notable amount of time looking at Pemko and Zero International products, largely at Trademark Hardware, but it can be overwhelming if you don't know what you are looking for in the first place. I must have passed over interlocking thresholds countless times and not even known what I was looking at.

      Very very interesting...

      1. Dan Kolbert | | #8

        The interlock are the gold (or, I guess, bronze) standard, but there is zero tolerance, so make sure you're up for the challenge.

  4. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #4

    Another vote for spring bronze weather stripping. That stuff lasts decades, and it is chew-proof so not critters can chew holes in it. I like to SLIGHTLY clip the corners though since I’ve found that the corners tend to catch at some point and damage the ends of the strip. If you slightly round the corners, they are less likely to catch and so less likely to get damaged.

    Bill

Log in or create an account to post an answer.

Community

Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |