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3 tips to improve the insulation of an exterior door

Last modified: 2020-02-27 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

It’s difficult to deny that as soon as the chilly weather arrives, rushing to the thermostat to crank up the heat seems like the only way to keep the inside of the home warm and comfortable. What you may not realize is that even if your heaters are on full blast, the indoor temperature will only stay cosy if your home is insulated correctly.

This is especially true of drafty areas, such as the doors and windows of your home. Many front doors leak air and heat, contributing to high energy costs. How can you improve the insulation of your exterior doors? Well, we’ve got 3 important tips so read on!

The top 3 tips for improving the insulation of an exterior door

1- Weatherstripping your doors


source: unsplash

If you haven’t heard of weatherstripping before, then take a trip down to your local hardware store. This inexpensive method is tried and tested among homeowners as well as professionals and will help you deal with an excessive amount of air infiltration and loss.

The most common way to compromise your indoor air is from improper or missing weatherstripping. Weatherstripping will be placed along all four sides of your door in order to provide a full seal. Without it, it’s very easy for air to escape as well as allowing dust and debris in from outside. Although your door may look like it’s firmly in place, over time doors shift and move out of alignment. Even if you installed weather-stripping a year ago, there is a good chance it may not be as effective today. Feel for cold spots along the edges of the door. If you come across a gap, you should take action.

There are a few variations of weatherstripping on the market. Adhesive foam comes in rubber or plastic and can be cut to fit any style door. This option is easy to install, although it will only have a 1 to 3-year lifespan. Felt is another commonly-used material. It is very effective but may compress over time. If you live in a place with serious weather conditions or the gap itself needs a heavy-duty fix, metal stripping exists. Though this option has the longest lifespan, this installation process would be best left to a professional.

2- Repair your existing door

If you change or replace your weatherstripping, and still find your door to be a major source of heat loss then it might come down to the structure itself. There are a number of repairs that can be taken to improve the efficiency of your door. Start by checking to see if the door fits directly into the frame.

As mentioned, over time your home can move and settle, and this leads to doors coming out of alignment with their frame. Open and close your door and see if you find that it sticks in place or makes noise when opened or closed. If you find it does, then it’s likely to have shifted. Luckily, this is an easy fix and will come down to cleaning the hinges of the door and looking for any dirt, grime or buildup that may have collected and is compromising how it sits. Also, tighten any noticeably loose screws as this can help to pull the door back into alignment.  If this doesn’t aid in the placement of your door, look for areas that may need to be sanded down so that it sits correctly.

Another area to check is the caulking on the seams surrounding the door frame, making sure that it is still intact. With repeated exposure to weather, caulk will wear down and lack effectiveness. When you visit your local hardware store, look for exterior caulk as it will hold up better against the weather. Also, make sure to remove all damaged caulk before applying a new layer. 

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3- Replace your exterior door altogether

front door

source: unsplash

If you’ve followed all of the methods we’ve offered above and you’re still finding a significant amount of heat loss by way of the door, then we’re recommending that you replace it. This is especially important if your door is old, as new doors have been outfitted with a magnetic strip that works in the same way as weatherstripping.

Further, most are outfitted with a foam core which acts as insulation and is rated in the same way. Insulation is rated by R-value, and this is the measure of insulation's ability to reduce the rate of heat flow. The higher the value, the more effective the material. Newer doors have a general rating of between R-5 and R-6. If you still have a solid wood door on the front of your home, chances are it’s lacking serious energy-efficiency.

If any of your exterior doors is an older model with glass panels, chances are that plenty of heat is escaping. However, newer glass doors come equipped with a plastic insulator, known as a thermal break that lives between the inner and outer frames. Even further, high-quality glass doors are usually made with several layers of glass as well as low-emissivity (low-E) coatings.

These work to reduce energy loss by 30 to 50 per cent. Bear in mind that these doors will be much more expensive but could very well be worth it for the amount of heat saved on your electricity bill.

When shopping for a new door, consider the climate where you live including the average temperature and weather patterns. In some cases, you will come across doors that are rated in regards to their solar heat gain (SHGC). The lower the value, the less solar heat it can capture and transmit. Of course, if you’re living in a fairly tropical or warm climate, you’re going to want to look for a door with a low SHGC rating but if you’re living in a place where sunlight is scarce then look for a high SHGC value.

When it comes down to the installation of your new door, this job won’t be overly complicated or difficult. But, remember if you’re feeling unsure it’s always worthwhile to get in touch with a professional. 

Get 3 renovation quotes for your exterior door weatherproofing project can help you get quotes for your door weatherproofing project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals. 

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