How to Replace or Install a Door Sweep Without Removing the Door
A door sweep can be the solution to insects, dust, debris, rain, and drafts coming into your house. If the bottom of your exterior door does not have a door sweep, this might be the avenue for outside elements. Or if your door's existing sweep is cracked or peeling apart, it's not doing its job. The great thing is that you can replace or install a new door sweep—all without removing the door.
What a Door Sweep Is
A door sweep is a narrow strip that attaches to the bottom of an exterior door. It's designed to seal your home against air, water, pests, and other unwanted intrusions.
The bottom-most section of the door sweep is a soft, flexible vinyl or bristle insert that seals the gap between the bottom of the door and the door's threshold. Because it's flexible, this section can drag across the threshold or floor as the door is opened and closed.
Types of Door Sweeps
- Aluminum and Vinyl Insert Door Sweep: The most common type of door sweep has an aluminum strip that attaches to the face of the door, with a thin vinyl strip insert acting as the sweep. Easy to install and inexpensive, this type of door sweep is effective for most needs.
- Brush-Style Door Sweep: Brush- or bristle-style door sweeps have plastic bristles about 3/4-inch long instead of flexible vinyl sweep inserts. While less effective against rodents and insects, brush-style door sweeps can adjust better to uneven floors than vinyl sweeps can.
- Rodent- and Insect-Proof Door Sweep: If rodents find their way into your house—even if you already have a door sweep—you may want to install a special rodent-proof door sweep. While this door sweep costs four to five times more, it's sometimes the only way to prevent rodents from entering.
- Self-Stick Vinyl Sweep: Some door sweeps attach to the door with pre-attached adhesive rather than screws. Self-stick sweeps aren't the best long-term solution, but they do quickly seal gaps for now—until you can install a door sweep that attaches with screws.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Cordless drill
- Drill bits and driver bits
- Tape measure
- Door sweep
With the tape measure, measure the width of the door at the bottom. Be sure to account for the door stops, too, and not just the actual size of the door.
Cut Door Sweep Frame
Transfer the measurement to the door sweep by marking with a pencil on the aluminum section. With the hacksaw, cut the aluminum frame of the door sweep. Stop cutting when you reach the sweep insert.
Cut Door Sweep Insert
Switch to scissors to cut the remaining vinyl part of the insert.
Mark Position of Door Sweep Drill Holes
Close the door. On the inside of the door, place the door sweep at the bottom of the door so that the bottom edge of the sweep insert touches the threshold. Have an assistant hold the sweep in place as you mark the centers of each of the oval holes of the door sweep.
Drill Pilot Holes
Choose a drill bit that's narrower than the screws provided with the door sweep kit. Drill pilot holes at each of the marks.
Attach Door Sweep
Hold the door sweep in place. Switch to the driver bit in the drill. Screw the door sweep onto the door. Be careful when tightening the screws to avoid stripping out the heads or warping the aluminum frame.
Test Door Sweep
Open and close the door several times, while observing and listening to the door sweep. The door sweep should firmly touch the threshold but should not stick or catch as the door is opened or closed.
Adjust Door Sweep
If needed, adjust the door sweep by slightly loosening the screws and sliding the sweep up or down. For uneven thresholds, you can even adjust just part of the sweep to match the profile of the threshold.
When to Call a Professional
A wraparound door sweep extends upward an inch or two on both the interior and exterior sides, with the sweep section directly below the bottom edge of the door. If your door has a wraparound door sweep that attaches with screws from the bottom, you may want to call a door company or a repair person.
Often, the door must be removed to install or replace the sweep. Some types of wraparound sweeps are specific to the manufacturer and style of door, so they should be purchased specifically for that door.