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Winterizing Windows and Doors Inside and Out

October 26th, 2020, 9:34 AM

Does anyone feel a draft? If so, you may want to investigate winterizing your windows and doors to keep the chill out and the warmth in. Depending on how extensive the air leakage or insulation deficiencies are, you may or may not need to consider replacing windows or doors entirely. Before you commit such an investment, however, there are several more affordable approaches from both inside and out. 

Caulk from the outside

Choosing the right caulk

Caulk is a waterproof filler and sealant useful for all sorts of home improvement projects. The number of choices available at your local hardware store will reflect that, which can be daunting if it's your first time winterizing your windows or doors. Essentially, what you're looking for is something labeled "exterior grade" — it's formulated to withstand the elements. 

There are three types of caulk that are best for weatherizing windows and doors.

  1. Acrylic: An economical option for sealing narrower gaps. For better performance and longevity, look for labels such as "100% silicone," "plus silicone," or "siliconized.

  2. Polyurethane: The best caulk for exterior projects due to its superior adhesion and flexibility. It's a little harder to work with, but will save you effort in the long run because it needs replaced less often.

  3. Hybrid: A combination of polyurethane and silicone, easier to apply than straight-up polyurethane but with a higher price tag. 

How to caulk

Caulking is a simple three-step process — scrape, clean, apply.

  1. Scrape away old or deteriorated caulk with a putty knife or 6-in-1 painter's tool. In some cases, a caulk remover can make this job less strenuous. Let it set for 2 to 3 hours to work its magic.

  2. Ensure the perimeter between frame/siding or frame/exterior trim is clean and clear of all leftover caulk, residues, and debris. A household cleaner or rubbing alcohol should do the trick.

  3. Apply the new caulk. This is best done with a caulking gun rather than directly from the tube. Snip the caulk cartridge nozzle to dispense your desired bead size, puncture the inner seal, and load the gun. Apply consistent pressure to the trigger and hold at a 45-degree angle.

winterizing windows

Weatherstrip from the inside

What is weatherstripping?

Weatherstripping refers to materials applied around the edges of windows and doors to prevent leaks and moisture infiltration. This job can often be performed from within your home, which means you're less likely to have to pull out the ladder. It's a good thing, too, because as with caulking, there is a dizzying array of options. 

Four popular types of weatherstripping

Here are the four types of weatherstripping you should be most aware of.

  1. Adhesive-backed foam (aka foam tape) is applied to either the outer edges of window sashes themselves or the interior edges of door or window framing. It compresses when the windows or door is shut to seal any gaps.

  2. Tubular rubber gaskets function in much the same fashion and are sold in foam-filled or hollow-core varieties. The foam-filled holds its shape better than hollow-core.

  3. V spring or tension seal weatherstripping consists of a strip of plastic or metal folded into a V-shape that springs open when a door or window is closed to create the seal.

  4. Felt is the old standby, sold in rolls and cut to fit. It's not as durable or precise as other weatherstripping methods, but is inexpensive and can be fairly effective.

Other weatherproofing solutions for windows

Window insulation kits

Window insulation kits allow you to shrink wrap the inside of your windows with an insulating layer of plastic film. The film is stretched out to a size slightly larger than the window opening and heat is applied until it shrinks to fit. When utilized properly, window insulation kits add a wrinkle-free, waterproof barrier that guests would hardly know is there.

Interior storm windows

Interior storm windows (aka invisible storms, window inserts, or energy panels) are clear glass or acrylic panels that pop into the interior window frame casing, sealed either magnetically or by compression.

Thermal window treatments

Thermal window treatments such as thermally-lined drapes and cellular shades wall off drafts while adding a decorative touch.

Extra sash lock

Ensure your sashes fit together nice and snug by installing an additional sash lock. Space each sash lock about a third of the way away from either side jamb.

winterizing windows and doors

Other weatherproofing solutions for doors

Bolt them shut!

Simply using the deadbolt can make a big difference. Bolting exterior doors shut creates a tighter seal against the frame.

Draft guards and door sweeps 

The gap between the door and threshold is especially vulnerable to energy loss during heating season. Draft guards (insulated tube not attached to bottom of door), door sweeps (attached flat strip of plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel with nylon, plastic, vinyl, or sponge brush underlayer), or even rolled-up towels can cover this breach.

Need replacement windows or doors after all?

You can winterize a window or door all you want, but it won't do a bit of good if the framing is rotted out or compromised. Can you see sunlight or light poking through? When you hold a candle or incense stick to the frame, does it flicker or smoke? Does it feel soft or spongy? If it ends up that you *do end up requiring new windows or exterior doors, Hodges is here to supply your needs with the top energy-efficient models from the best brands in the industry. Message, call, or visit either of our two showroom locations (by appointment only).


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Interested in installing new windows or doors?

All in all a really fantastic company - they've been in business a long time and it shows based on how they treat the costumer. Am planning to do windows next year, and they will be my first phone call.

Ian W.
North Potomac, MD
Door Installation

The deck door is fabulous and the installation is super!!! I love how wide it is, and how easily it opens and it actually locks! thank you for the expert product and installation.

Kevin J.
Springfield, Virginia
Door Installation

Your guys did a great job. The temperature in the house is up by 3 degrees and the heat pump is running half as much.

Larry C.
Gainesville, Virginia
Window Installation

I couldn't be more pleased with both my windows and the installation and now "on a clear day I can see forever". If you would like to use me as a reference I would be more than happy to cooperate.

Elizabeth H.
Arlington, Virginia
Window Installation

I am so pleased with my windows, your installers and staff. I would indeed recommend your company to anyone and everyone. They were quick, efficient and very polite.

Betty L.
Fairfax, VA
Window Installation

Your craftsmanship made all the difference, and it was nice getting to know you. We hope to hire you again.

Nany & Harry B.
Chevy Chase, MD
Windows and Door Installation

Everything was excellent. The salesman offered good advice and provided examples of how the end result would look. Hodges' workers arrived on time and worked quickly. The lead installer was quite knowledgeable as well, so the job was done neatly and without incident.

James G.
Vienna, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

Thank you so much for fixing my window today! Thank you for coming even though these windows aren't yours......No wonder the management office here thinks you guys can do anything and are the most helpful window company around.

Kim T.
McLean, Virginia
Window Repair

I must tell you that Mark Russow and everyone at The Hodges Window Company are nothing less than a great representative/distributor for your company and we will not hesitate to recommend both companies to our friends and family.

Debbie P.
Manassas, VA
Window and Door Installation

I wouldn't deal with anyone else. Working with Hodges, I know I can get anything I want, and my imagination can run wild.

Arlington, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

We enjoyed meeting with Brian Whitehouse and were impressed with his ability to explain our options, always respecting our wishes and never annoying us with hard-sell tactics...It was such a pleasure to deal with people who know their job and do it well.

Sara R.
Falls Church, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

Before, we could never keep up with the cold. Now we just turn the heat on, and it stays in the building. Complaints are way down, and we're very happy.

Rev. Davies K.
Falls Church, Virginia
Window Installation

We love our new door. The installation work was timely, quick and well-done.

Mary Ann M.
Arlington, VA
Door Installation

Hodges had very knowledge salespeople, highly skilled installation crews, and the product lives up to expectations. You can't ask for better than that.

Richard N.
Ashburn Village, Virginia
Door Installation

Tom is definitely a master craftsman and did an excellent job. Just want you and the company to know that both Tom and Larry did an outstanding job and we are very pleased with the results.

Dave H.
Arlington, VA
Window Installation

The installer, who I think was Tom Langworthy, did excellent work. He was respectful of our space and cleaned up after himself. He always conducted himself in a professional manner. He seems highly competent and he engenders confidence in his workmanship.

James B.
Washington, DC
Window Installation

We are so very, very happy (once again!) with the Hodges Company....this is the third time we have had a project completed, and each time we've been so pleased.

Valerie Soroka
Arlington, VA
Door Installation

I think they did a very good job. I will go back to them in a heartbeat.

Karen L.
Arlington, VA
Window and Door Replacement

I want you to know that your two colleagues who installed the windows did an outstanding job...Jean and I could not be more pleased.

Ted B.
Washington, D.C.
Window Installation

The whole process from initial meeting to installation was painless and quite surprisingly, a lot less expensive than we thought it would be... Thanks again for taking such good care of us. If anyone I know is looking for new windows, I will certainly recommend your company.

Carol B.
McLean, Virginia
New Window Installation

We will definitely be using Hodges again when we look to replace some windows in our house

Daniel Q.
Woodbridge, VA
Door Installation

Throughout the entire process - from our first meeting to the on-going daily supervision - by you of the job, the professionalism, the quality of the products, and the workmanship was outstanding.

David & Rosemary P
Vienna, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

I just wanted to express my appreciation to the team your company sent to install a few doors and repair windows in our house. They were professional, caring, cooperative and extremely courteous. They are a major asset to your company. On the whole, our experience with the Hodges Company has been very positive and we happily recommend your services to others.

Mary V.
Bethesda, Maryland
Door Installation and Window Repair