Window and Door Installation

The student will understand the importance of proper window and door installation in order to prevent heat losses and gains in the house.

The student will be able to:

1. Explain heat losses and gains around windows and doors.
2. Describe how proper window and door installation, including weatherstripping and caulking, can decrease energy waste.
3. Recognize other areas of the house that may need treatment to prevent heat losses and gains.

Up to 40% of heating and cooling needs in the home are due to air exchange. In the winter, heat losses occur when heated air leaks out of the house. Energy must then be spent warming the cool air that replaces it. In the summer, heat gains occur when warm air leaks into the house; thus, more money is spent on cooling costs.


One area of the house that may allow up to 17% of this unwanted air infiltration is around windows and doors. Energy waste and cost can be cut by the proper installation of windows and doors.

The main objective when installing windows and doors should be to create an airtight seal between the window or door frame and the exterior wall. Most of the time the window or door will not fit perfectly into the rough opening. It is then important to find a way to seal the cracks that will otherwise cause air leakage. It is also possible that there will be cracks between the movable parts of windows and doors. These areas also need attention.

Two easy ways to help ensure that this seal is airtight and will help reduce energy waste is to use weatherstripping or caulking when installing windows and doors.

Explain the purpose of weatherstripping?___________________

Of caulking?________________________________________________

Weatherstripping is a material that can be placed around the moving parts of windows and doors so that they will close more tightly and prevent heat losses or gains. One way that weatherstripping may be purchased is as a self-adhesive foam tape. This is very easy to apply but may only last one season. Another type is the vinyl weatherstrip, which can be screwed or stapled into place and is very durable.


Weatherstripping may be placed between window and door frames and the exterior wall, between moving parts of windows, or as a door seal between the bottom of the door and the floor.

To install weatherstripping, it is important to:
- Choose the right type of weatherstripping for the job.
- Cut the material to the right length.
- Check to see that the window or door will still close properly after the weatherstripping has been attached.
- Follow manufacturer's instructions for installation.

Caulking is a soft, semi-solid material that can be used to seal cracks around windows and doors. Caulking should be resilient and allow movement between the window or door frame and surrounding material without cracking or allowing infiltration.


Caulking these cracks or joints is important. The materials of the window and door frames or the openings may swell or contract under varying weather conditions. Caulking seals these cracks with a pliable material that "moves" with the changes in the materials.

Caulking is fairly easy to install as the material can be purchased for use in a caulking gun. The tip of the caulking tube should be placed at a 45° angle to the crack, and then the caulking material can be squeezed into place.

The caulking is squeezed into place as a bead of about 1/4" to1/2". When purchasing caulking, the container will list how much caulking is inside by explaining how many liner feet of a certain sized bead it will make.

Among the most important caulking procedures include:
- Removing any old caulking material.
- Cleaning area of grease and dirt.
- Applying caulking to a solid, dry surface.
- Using enough caulking to fill the crack.
- Following manufacturer's instructions for installation.

Caulking is not only used around windows and doors. Examine this figure to see other areas of the house where caulking might be useful.


How much weatherstripping and caulking is needed in the following situations?

1. If a homeowner wants to put weatherstripping around three doors, each 3' 6" wide by 9' 0" in height, how much does he need? He will put the weatherstripping around both sides and the top of the doors.

2. A homeowner wants to put caulking around all of his windows. He has six 3' 0" wide by 5' 0" high windows and four 3' 6" wide by 8' 0" high windows. How much caulking, in linear feet, will he need?

Manual for Building Energy Efficient Homes In Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Baton Rouge,LA, 1983.

A Builder's Guide to Energy Efficient Homes. SLEMCO, Lafayette, LA, n.d.

Caulking and Weatherstripping. SLEMCO, Lafayette, LA, n.d.

Provisions for Energy Efficiency in Homes and Small Buildings, Part 1. U.S. Department of Energy, 1980.

Fill in the blanks with the word or phrase that completes each statement. Some answers will not be used.
heat loss
air exchange movable parts heat gain
17% cracks and joints 15%
50% solvent 40%
airtight seal wall joints caulking

1. _______________ is a soft, semi-solid material used as a sealant.

2. Up to __________ of unwanted air comes in around windows anddoors.

3. The ____________________ is another area of the house where caulking may be used.

4. Caulking is used at the ___________________________________around windows and doors.

5. ____________________ refers to unwanted air leakage.

6. Up to __________ of heating and cooling needs in the home are due to air exchange.

7. A ____________________ is caused by warm air leaking into the house in the summer.

8. Creating a(n) ____________________ is the main objective when installing windows and doors.

9. A self-adhesive foam tape is an example of ________________.

10. A ____________________ refers to warm air leakage out of the house in the winter.

11. Weatherstripping is put around the ________________________ of windows and doors.

Activity 1:
The purpose of weatherstripping is to stop air leakage through the movable parts of doors and windows or between door and window frames and the exterior wall.

The purpose of caulking is to fill in cracks and joints between materials so that there is no air leakage, even during swelling or constriction of the materials.

Activity 2:
1. 75 feet
2. 188 linear feet

1. Heat gain -
This is when warm air leaks into the house; summertime.

2. Heat loss -
This occurs when heated air is lost through cracks; wintertime.

3. Infiltration -
This refers to unwanted air leaking into the house and desired air (that has already been heated or cooled) leaking out of the home.

Answers to Information Check:
1. Caulking
2. 13%
3. wall joints
4. cracks and joints
5. Infiltration
6. 40%
7. heat gain
8. airtight seal
9. weatherstripping
10. heat loss
11. movable parts

Comments or questions to: TechAsmt@LA.GOV

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