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Rodney R 10-22-2011 06:31 PM

Old wooden doors - how well insulated?
My house has an entry door that either needs a ton of weatherstriping, or replacement. I sorta like the door - it's old, solid wood, and about 1 3/4 thick. It has a big single pane window in it, about 2ft by 3ft. I also have a storm door mounted on that opening, and there is about 2 ft between the doors. I recently bought this house, and old door has sagged (which leaves a space at the top), and the entire perimeter of that door is not sealed at all. The door is not rotted at all, and will easily last another 100 years. The issue for me is that it leaks air. I know that I can install some weather striping, install new hinges and make the thing seal tight. The thing that is stopping me is I am wondering how well the thing is for keeping the cold out, and the heat in? Should I bother with this old door or replace it with a more effecient one?


TheDoorGuy 10-23-2011 06:53 AM

Personally, I like old stuff...
If your door fits the look of your house I would be inclined to
tune it up and add weatherstripping and a door shoe.

The weatherstripping that screws to the jamb and has a bulb in it to create
the seal is more effective than the stick on foam tape products. If your
door is painted I suggest spending the extra money and getting the
weatherstrip with silicone bulb instead of the vinyl. the silicone seals better
and more importantly does not stick to the latex enamel that most of us
use these days. It is available from Pemko or Columbia by special order from
quality hardware store, not big box. I wrote a detailed article about it on
my website but don't want to get in trouble by posting link!

The combination of tuning up your door, improving the weatherstripping
and making sure the storm door is fitting and sealing as good as possible
should stop the air intrusion that you mentioned.

Regarding the hinges: Make sure that the top one isn't pulling away from
the jamb or door...Common problem with heavy doors. If that is the problem
you can hammer 1/8 or 1/16" dowels into the holes, drill pilot holes and
reinstall screws. Another way to make the assembly stronger is to install
longer screws in the screw holes closest to the door stop making sure that
they attach firmly to the stud inside the wall. Always best to drill pilot holes
for these screws so that you don't strip or break them.

Best of luck!

oldognewtrick 10-23-2011 07:19 AM

Richard, as long as you stay away from advertising, feel free to post a link to an article, we appreciate your help around here.

Rodney R 10-24-2011 06:55 PM

That tip about the hinges is a good one. I know that the door has 2 different kinds of hinges, and I figured that was the problem, but I will also look to see if the screws are pulling out of the wood. Thanks!


nealtw 10-24-2011 10:33 PM

More often it is easier to pull the hole thing out and take it to a door shop and have it remounted in a new frame and re-install it.

Tru_blue 10-25-2011 09:17 AM

I'm not sure if you're asking about the insulating value of the door or just air infiltration, or both. I think what you're asking is should you bother making the door more airtight given that it's a single glazed "inefficient" wood door. I like wood doors so my own preference would be to reuse the existing door if possible. However, it would be the least energy-efficient door choice. If you get a new door it could be double or triple glazed, representing a significantly better insulating value compared to the single glazing you currently have. The door would be (presumably) prehung in a new weatherstripped frame, resulting in a much more airtight system when installed correctly. If you choose a steel or fiberglass door, they have a foam core that is a much better insulator than wood. Reusing your existing door would likely cost the least, and if reset in the frame correctly it could yield satisfactory although not the best results. Best wishes for your decision.

TheDoorGuy 10-26-2011 03:35 PM

Hi Old/New,
Thanks for that input...
Definitely not trying to sell anything, just want to help and learn stuff myself!!


joecaption 10-27-2011 07:25 AM

If the old heavy door is truly "sagging" one trick I've done is remove the whole door and square it back up. then predrill and counter bore for some 6" long deck screws that go into the stiles and pulls the rails back together, then insert wood plugs to cover the screws.
Any door really needs three hindges to spread out the load and they need to all be the same. If not the door may become what's called hindge bound and not close properly.
For it to be truly air tite I'd bite the bullet and buy a whole new prehung door.

Rodney R 10-27-2011 06:53 PM

Thanks for the replies! My wife wants a new door. My dad says that the old door is a good one. I am up in the air. Tru_blue hit the nail on the head. I'd rather not toss the old door just cause it's old, but I want something that is energy efficient, and air tight. I know the old one needs new hinges and some weather striping.

Another question..... this door is currently not the main door, but with future remodeling, it will be hence the wanting to get a good door on there now. Seeing as it's going to be too cold do this work soon, how should I seal up this door until springtime? I will not be using the door after it's sealed. I know that I've seen folks use plastic and tape.... That's not very tight, is it?


Dionysia 10-28-2011 06:12 PM

You might be able to order an energy-efficient glass insert to replace your single-pane glass. If you have an odd size, it might be custom aka expensive though. It's gotta be better than my old back door, which snow will blow through between the panels. (One of these days I will get around to special ordering a new one, but some of these old houses (like mine) have odd-sized openings.)

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