How to make an effective door seal for under $10

If you have looked in the weather stripping section at your hardware store you may have seen the plethora of door sealing options available. In fact, it is this multitude of options which initially turned me off fixing the problem discussed below.

I ended up doing the easy doors (ones with a raised sill) and kicking a door snake behind the others. But we all know the problem with door snakes.

Sealing a door with a raised sill

Raised Sill Plastic Door Seal 

Doors with raised sills are relatively easy to seal. This is because the ground around them falls away, which means you can get away with using a basic plastic door seal (see picture on the left). The benefits of these include:

  • They provide an effective air seal directly onto the sill (see photo on left).
  • They are the cheapest door seal available (under $10).
  • They are very easy to install: you stick them on with the self-adhesive backing. No drilling or measuring required!
  • Their simple design means they are visually unobtrusive, unlike some others.

Sealing other external doors

In my experience the vast majority of other external doors require a slightly different solution. Without a door seal, the gap tends to get narrower as you open the door. This means that the plastic door seal of the type show above simply crumples up and jams.

The door seal manufacturers would have you think that this calls for a more complicated solution. But, all you really need is something for the door to close onto (to take care of most of the gap) plus a basic seal as above (to take care of the remaining few millimetres).

Here's an example of what you can do:

  1. Find a piece of scrap wood which will fit under the door in question.
  2. Cut it to size, paint it and fit it at the bottom of the doorway (notice that you don't need to drill anything in if you don't want to... So this can even be suitable for renters).
  3. Finally, fit a simple plastic door to finish off the job.

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Once again in pictorial form:

Door with a large gap

The problem: a door with a large and uneven gap 

Cut plywood to size

Find a piece of scrap plywood, cut and trim it to size to fit under the door 

Paint the plywood

Paint the wood to weather-proof it and match it to the door. 

Wooden door seal in place

The wooden door seal in place 

Wooden door seal with door closed

Wooden door seal with door closed 

Completed door seal

The completed product - including plastic door seal to close the final few millimetre gap 

Warm pets

Lower energy bills and warmer pets!

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