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Community and Q&A

Making an Entry Door Airtight

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?

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  1. Expert Member


    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

    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. dankolbert | | #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
    BILL WICHERS | | #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.


  5. Sadig | | #10

    Thank you for all the answers in this thread! They are helpful, and I think that I will install the hardwood threshold on my door. I am tired of constant draughts in my house, and I want to air seal all the doors. The new entrance door is from, and I still have to install it. So, I will install the threshold there right away. Bronze weatherstripping might be a good option, but I will think about it. Wish me luck because I’m not a professional at all.

  6. HannaRIO | | #11

    You should replace the front door leaf. It is the most radical, but effective solution to the problem.

  7. HenryThomas88 | | #12

    Hi. I was not adapted to this kind of issue for a long time. I work as a lawyer, so I am far from the correct technique for performing repairs. However, I had to replace an old garage door. I turned to for help. After that, I became interested in all this. Btw, it is important to make a sizing along the perimeter of the seal sash for the tightness of the door. It is a simple and inexpensive option. A rubber seal in the form of a tape or a profile foamed polyethylene is used for this purpose.

  8. jameshowison | | #13

    Always thought the automatic door bottom seals (that drop down only when the door is closed) looked slick, although I've never used one.


  9. jberks | | #14


    I've installed one on a front door I've built.

    They are very slick looking, especially because you don't have a threshold, just a curbless door opening. but come with its own issues.

    It's next to impossible to get a seal at the corners. Also they are finicky, for instance, I got a version with a foam neoprene seal, and it turns out it's so stiff that it can't quite seal the subtle inconsistencies of the concrete slab at the bottom. More, if I adjust it to put more downward pressure, it won't let the door close
    all the way and latch, it just gets in the way and is super stiff to overcome.

    This is my (lack of) experience with my first one. I perhaps should have gotten a silicon seal, I imagine it would have been more forgiving. Moreover, I might made the door stops of the frame wider, from ¼" maybe to ⅜" or ½" to have more sealing surface area, and to try to accomodate the bottom corners where the automatic door bottom doesn't quite get to. Although it'll never be perfect.

    If I had my perfect design world, I would do an outward swinging door. I know it's unconventional for resi's, but it provides better function such as a full perimeter seal, and to bring an element of slick, with careful planning you can eliminate a threshold by doing a step down in the slab at the outside. It's not curbless, but it's close.


    1. jameshowison | | #15

      Thanks, excellent experience report :)

      Looks like the multi-sealing, multi-locking passive house doors do all seem to have bottom thresholds to seal against, even when swinging in.

      I put and outward swinging one from the house into the garage. There was already a step up there so the additional threshold makes no difference. Would not be fun to worry about in a windy place, though.

      Anyone tried putting the automatic mechanism in the door surround, pushing into the door? Almost certainly too much mechanical to last.

      I guess the lift-and-slide type mechanisms don't work with hinges/

  10. jberks | | #16

    Since we're on this subject,

    Does anyone know where to get 3 point latches in Canada?

    A while ago, risinger did a video about the endura panolock system, which looks like an great system cause it's all one piece and has cam latches.

    However, I contacted endura and they told me to get lost.

    Does anyone else know of a similar system?



  11. JackBurns | | #17

    You should turn to a professional with such an important question. And I can advise you on the details of the decor. I can recommend cool door number signs for a house or apartment: from quality materials. This sign will always be visible and recognizable, and you can make your choice in the door sign shop. It will become a business card and decoration of your new home.

  12. ByronFlowers | | #18

    I found a store where you can buy double white wood barn door interior. They look very stylish and fit into any interior. This is very cool quality and at a great price; contact them and create a cool door for your space!

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