|Exterior Doors and Storm
Below is for information purposes
only, we do not sell exterior or storm doors.
Doors are necessary for access and
often for ventilation and illumination too. However, if they are in poor
condition (or just very old) they can contribute to high amounts of air leakage
and related energy losses.
Exterior Door Replacement
Modern exterior doors often fit and insulate
better than old ones, and their associated heat losses (or gains) come from
opening and closing the door. However, damaged weatherstripping can increase
energy loss around the door by many times. Check your weather-stripping
every year and replace it as needed. After replacing the weather-stripping,
check the door seal again. If the door still does not seal tightly to all sides
of the jamb you either installed the weatherstripping badly or the door is bent
and in need of replacement.
Consider an insulated metal or fiberglass door
when replacing exterior doors. They are a better investment than wooden doors
since they are much more durable, have lower maintenance needs and seal and
insulate better. They also have the added advantage of offering more of a
deterrent to intruders.
Most insulated door prices range from $200 to
$400. One common type has a steel skin with a polyurethane foam core; they
usually have a magnetic strip (similar to a refrigerator door magnetic seal) for
weather-stripping. If installed correctly and, if the door is not bent, this
type of door needs no further weather-stripping. The R-values of most steel and
fiberglass clad entry doors range from R-5 to R-6 (not including the effects of
a window.) For example: A 1-1/2 inch (3.81 cm) thick door without a window
offers better than five times the insulating value of a solid wood door of the
When you buy a door, it will probably be a
pre-hung frame. Pre-hung doors usually come with wood or steel frames. In most
cases, you will need to remove the existing door frame from the rough opening
before you install a pre-hung door. The door frame must be as square as
possible, so that the door seals tightly to the jamb and swings properly. It is
a good idea to use expanding foam caulking to seal the new door frame to the
rough opening and threshold to prevent air from getting around the door seals
and into the house. You should do this before adding the interior trim.
Glass or "patio" doors, especially
sliding glass doors, loose heat much faster than other types of doors because
glass is a very poor insulator. Multiple layers of glass and low-e coatings
improve the situation by 2 to 3 times, but it is still considerable worse than
for a foam-core door.
A sliding glass door's weather-stripping is
intended to reduce air infiltration, however by the sliding nature of the door's
design it is impossible to stop all the air leaking around the weatherstripping
while still being able to use the door. Also, after years of use, the
weatherstripping wears down and air leakage increases as the door ages. If the
manufacturer has made it possible to do so, replace worn weatherstripping on
sliding glass doors with new weatherstripping.
When replacing patio doors, keep in mind that
swinging doors offer a much tighter seal than sliding types. Most modern glass
doors with metal frames have a "thermal break," which is a plastic
insulator between inner and outer parts of the frame. Glass doors are also
optionally manufactured with several layers of glazing, low-e coatings, and low
conductivity gases between the glass panes. These options are a good investment,
especially in extreme climates. Over the long run, the additional cost is paid
back many times over in energy savings.
Adding a storm door that costs about $200 or less
is generally a good investment if your existing door is old, but still in good
condition. However, adding a new (or more expensive) storm door to a modern foam
core door is not generally worth the expense since the added energy saved is
very small. But you may have aesthetic reasons for wanting a storm door anyway.
In any case, never add a glass storm door if the door gets more than a few hours
of direct sun each day. The glass will trap too much heat against the entry door
and possibly damage it.
Storm doors for patio doors are hard to find but
they are available. Adding one to a modern multi-glazed energy-efficient low-e
door is seldom economic. Insulated drapes, when closed for the night in the
winter (or on sunny days in the summer) are also a good idea.
High quality storm doors and windows use low-e
glass. Frames are usually made of aluminum, steel, fiberglass, or wood (painted
or not). Wooden storm doors require more maintenance than the other types.
Metal-framed storm doors and windows might have foam insulation in their frames.
Some doors have self-storing pockets for the
glass in summer, and an insect screen for the winter. Some storm windows have
fixed, full length screens and glass panels that slide out of the way for
ventilation. Others are half screen and half glass; these two components slide
past each other. Some are easily removed for cleaning, others are not. All of
these features add some convenience and higher costs.
Replacement weatherstripping is often available
at most building supply and hardware stores. There are a wide variety of
materials to choose from including: foam rubber, EPDM rubber, felt, bent metal,
When selecting weatherstripping, you should
consider the durability of the material as well as what would work best for what
you are weather stripping. For example: bent brass and aluminum is found on many
older doors and are durable, but they conduct heat easily, don't usually seal
that well, and are easily damaged by being bent the wrong way or through poor
installation. Bent metal weatherstripping is also one of the most expensive
weatherstripping materials. Bent plastics are similar to the bent metals, but
are less expensive. They are also less durable. Most rubber and foam materials
stay flexible for years, are inexpensive, easily replaced and effectively seal
air leaks. You should choose the appropriate door sweeps and thresholds for the
bottom of the doors as well.
For the best possible results from your
investment, you should make certain that the weatherstripping material will stay
flexible under extreme weather conditions. Also be sure to follow the
manufacturer's instructions. In general, you should: 1) weather strip the entire
door jamb; 2) apply one continuous strip along each side; 3) make sure the
stripping meets tightly at the corners; and 4) use a thickness that, when the
door closes, the stripping tightly presses between the door and the door jamb
without making the door too hard to close.
Plastic Storm Doors
In most cases, storm doors are intended to be
permanent additions to a home. If you have a window or door that is not opened
for long periods of time, a less costly do-it-yourself solution is to seal it
from the inside with a plastic sheet. You can make a temporary storm door (or
window) by mounting the plastic sheet on a light-weight wooden frame, which has
the same dimensions as the opening. Add small handles near the bottom half of
the frame to make taking it out easier. Add a strip of felt weatherstripping
around the frame for a tight seal. Some hardware and home improvement stores
sell prepackaged kits. The plastic usually comes folded or in rolls, and is 4,
6, and 8 mils (one mil equals 1/1000 of an inch) thick. The thicker sheets are
more durable. If you leave your plastic storm door (or window) up all year long,
try to buy plastic that is ultraviolet (UV) resistant. It will last longer.