When we first moved into our house the windows were really drafty and we had young kids, so I went round sealing them all with weather stripping. It took ages but made a real difference. I never actually had to take it off again though, as we refitted all the windows with new PVC ones a couple of years later.
Weather stripping can be removed using your fingers, pliers or a pry bar to gently ease it off. On painted wood windows and doors, try a test area first to avoid pulling off the paint. Many manufacturers sell weather stripping that is advertised as being removable without damaging paintwork.
In this article we’re going to look in greater depth at removing weather stripping from your windows and doors, what tools you’ll need and the process to use – so let’s get cracking…
How Do You Remove Weather Stripping From Windows?
Weather stripping on windows can be nailed on, stuck on or jammed into gaps called kerfs. Weather stripping removal (and installation) is an easy DIY task.
Weather stripping, whether it’s felt, foam, tubular rubber, or vinyl does wear out. If the weather stripping around your doors and windows has lost its adhesion or it has nicks, cracks, tears or holes, it’s time to put “Replace Weather Stripping” on your Spring To Do list.
Depending on the type and age of the weather stripping, the tools you’ll need will vary from pry bars to fingertips.
For old wooden windows, sometimes the weather stripping has been nailed on. You may need to take the door off its hinges to get to the weather stripping. Use a small pry bar to gently pry up the strip. If the weather stripping has been screwed on, use a screwdriver to remove it.
For self-stick weather stripping, start by assessing the window. For painted wood windows, there is a chance you will peel off paint with the weather stripping. Consider doing a test area. First, pick an out-of-the-way window. Cut the weather stripping with an Exacto around 4 inches from a corner. Use a pair of pliers or your hand to peel it off the window.
Most self-stick weather stripping manufacturers say that they will not damage paint. But if any paint came away in your test area, consider using a sharp utility knife or an Exacto to cut a thin line beside the weather stripping so paint doesn’t come off in big ugly flakes.
Then, peel the weather stripping away from the rest of the windows. If the weather stripping leaves a sticky residue, use the method described below.
If your windows have a kerf, then grabbing the seal and pulling it out is not hard. First, check out your window. If the window is wood, there is a chance the weather stripping was painted. Consider doing a test area on a hidden spot. Use a flat screwdriver, a painter’s 5-in-1 tool or a small pry bar, inserted gently into the kerf to pry up the end of the weather stripping.
Using a pair of pliers, gently pull it out about 6 inches. Was there damage to the paint? If so, try running a sharp utility knife along the edges of the seal to cut the paint off before continuing.
How Do I Remove Weather Stripping From My Front Door?
Most modern front doors have a slot (or kerf) that is designed for weather stripping. Some windows have kerfs, too. For exterior doors, a common kerf seal is the V-shape (aka tension seal, V-channel, or V-type).
The “V” part of the tape is springy, compressible foam rubber. The rigid part that fits into the kerf is called a fin and often has barbs or ridges to keep it secure.
The good news with this kind of seal is that it requires no adhesive, it just gets jammed into the kerf good and tight. The bad news is that you must get a good strong grip on it to get it removed.
First, examine your door. When you pull out the seal anything stuck to it – like paint – will be coming off too. Before grabbing a large piece of seal and yanking it off, try a small piece as a test.
Hardware stores sell specialized kerf tools to help you grab the seal or you can use a flat screwdriver, 5-in-1 painter’s tool, or small pry bar. Start at the top, bottom, sag, or tear. Gently using your screwdriver to get into the kerf, under the seal’s fin. Try to pry the seal out of the kerf.
Once you have a little of the seal out of the kerf, slice the seal with an Exacto knife so about 6 inches comes out. Grab an edge with a pair of pliers. Try to grab the entire seal – if you grab the foam V part, it will probably just tear apart. Then gently pull.
If paint chips off with the seal on your small test piece, then try running an Exacto or sharp utility knife along the seal so you don’t leave an ugly chipped door that you’ll have to repair.
Then, pull all the seals off the door.
Be sure that the kerf is totally cleaned out before installing a new kerf mounted seal. You may need to get a flashlight to check if all the pieces are out. If your seal was so old it was rotting, try some compressed air to clean it out.
Before installing your new kerf seal, it’s a good time to spruce up the door. Repair chips and cracks, freshen the paint and then install new weather stripping.
How Do You Remove Old Weather Stripping Adhesive?
Most modern self-adhesive weather stripping removes cleanly. If yours doesn’t, first try some old-fashioned soapy water.
Mix warm water with some gentle dish washing soap in a bucket. Then, wash the door or window with a soapy sponge. Rinse. Let the window or door dry for at least a day. Rub your finger along the jamb area. If you still feel some stickiness, then start Round 2.
Round 2 consists of chemical help. Buy some glue and adhesive remover – there are several to choose from. Be sure to read the instructions or watch an informational video, if possible. Most adhesive removers require a warm temperature, so pick a sunny day.
Pick an out of the way spot to do a test first. Spray the adhesive remover on the sticky surface, saturating the glue. Let the chemicals work for up to 15 minutes. The chemicals should soften the old adhesive, allowing you to gently scrape or wipe them off. Use a plastic or rubber scraper or putty knife – gently.
For really sticky spots, you may need to repeat the spray. When the adhesive is gone, wipe the area with a damp cloth then allow it to dry up to a day.
Is Rope Caulk Removable?
Oh heck yes! Rope caulk (aka caulking cord) is a tried-and-true method to stop drafts. And you can put it on your windows in the fall, remove it in the spring, roll it up and do it all over again next fall.
If you purchase a good quality rope caulk, it will not harden, crack, chip, or peel. Rope caulk is for indoor use. You can even paint it. Manufacturers recommend using rope caulk for small gaps, not large ones.
One product reviewer said that their dog ate about 8 inches of rope caulk. So, here’s a caution for pet owners or parents of toddlers – although rope caulk is not toxic, it should not be ingested.
Here is Mr. Hardware’s short video extolling the virtues of rope caulk.
Can You Buy Removable Weather Stripping Tape?
There are several tape products you can buy that are removable. Taping windows shut in the fall is an excellent way to prevent cold air leaking in. In the spring, simply pull the tape off.
Removable tape is a clear polyethylene, so you won’t even notice it during the winter. It is completely waterproof. Weather stripping tape is designed to stop drafts, not serve as insulation. One manufacturer claims it stops drafts from air at temperatures down to -20° F.
Choose a nice day in the fall to apply the tape – it needs to be warmer than 45° F. Removable weather stripping tape comes in rolls that you can cut with scissors. Removal is easy and the tape doesn’t leave a sticky residue OR take the paint off.
This tape is flexible enough to seal around AC units or ducts.
As mentioned, I never had to take the weather stripping off our windows at home because we replaced them with new PVC ones a few year later – but it’s good to know it would have been an easy job if I had attempted it.
Even better is knowing there are products available now that are advertised as fully removable – that won’t damage paintwork if you’re using it on older painted wood.
Nobody relishes household jobs like this, but with a good pair of pliers, nimble fingers and a pry bar – you should have this sorted in no time. 🙂