Barn doors play an important role on farms and homesteads, in barns, stables, and interior architecture. Especially in the winter, sealing your barn doors from frozen, drafty winds and inclement weather is crucial. Below, we explore the definition of weatherstripping, the importance of proofing your barn doors from inclement weather, and a step-by-step guide to weatherstripping your barn door.

What is Weatherstripping?

Weatherstripping is the process of sealing doors, windows, automobiles, etc. from outside elements. Weatherstripping is often implemented to prevent rain and water to enter the interior of a building or vehicle. Often, this is accomplished by rerouting the water. A second goal of weatherstripping is energy conservation – keeping interior air in. The preservation of heating and air conditioning saves energy and monetary resources. In buildings, weatherstripping is often made from felt, vinyl, rubber, poly foam, vinyl tubing, EPDM cellular rubber, or brass and aluminum.

Why is Weatherstripping Important?

Building Code Requirements

Beyond barn doors, most exterior doors require weatherstripping in adherence with building codes. Of course, building codes differ based on jurisdiction. Understand your building codes clearly and ensure your barn doors adhere with these rules and regulations.

Keep Unwanted Creatures Out

Keeping inclement weather out of your building is one thing – keeping unwanted creatures out is another. Weatherstripping addresses both problems. Barn doors have the tendency to allow birds or rodents in, both unwanted creatures. Barn owners often site this benefit as a major consideration for weather-sealing.

Thermal Comfort

Staying warm inside your barn, home, or farmstead is important for the comfort of those working in the barn and for livestock stalled in the barn. One rancher from Kansas emphasized the importance of thermal comfort: “most ranchers will say they know how to keep cattle warm, but there are ways to make sure stock do not endure frostbite and maintain adequate body weight during those bitter winter months.” He then considers smaller, more fragile creatures, like goats. “Insulation is… necessary for the kids’ sweet little 4-H meat goats… insulating a barn is an ideal way to keep goats warm in the coldest of winters.” Maintaining a warm barn in cold winter months, with the proper ventilation, is necessary for farmhand and livestock safety.

Energy Efficiency

Weatherstripping doors lowers utility bills – by keeping inside air within the building – and promotes overall energy efficiency. In our day and age, sustainable energy is important. The idea of a Green, Natural, or Sustainable building is emphasized in new construction. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs (LEED) is one such, widespread sustainability rating system. However, taking steps to create a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is possible on existing buildings. Weatherstripping your barn door is one such step.

How to Weather-Proof a Barn Door

Weatherstripping can be done in many ways, often by professionals. However, the general steps taken to weather-proof a barn door are examined below.

Keep Moisture off the Top

As we mentioned, one major goal of weatherstripping is keeping water away. In the winter, moisture can freeze the track along the top of the door. Attempting to open an iced-over barn door is unpleasant. Perhaps even worse, moisture that sinks between the flashing and barn can rot the wood. How can one prevent this issue? Install a rain guard along the top of the door. Often an aluminum flashing or gutter will keep moisture off the top track. While installing the rain guard, use a quality seal to secure the area between the barn and the flashing to keep moisture from rotting the wood.

Seal the Edge of the Barn Door

When the barn door is closed, examine the distance between the barn and the door. If it is greater than a quarter inch, a seal should be applied to the edges. Close the gap with a high-quality, rot-resistant material.

Seal the Top and Bottom of the Door

The top and bottom of the door provide both the greatest possibility for cold drafts and the greatest challenge, because the door needs to be able to slide with ease. Thus, the seal chosen must be effective while allowing for movement. Often, brush-type seals are utilized to close off the tops and bottoms of barn doors. Brush seals are available in many different sizes, according to the required application.

Install Latches

Latches work to securely compress the seals against the door. If you do not have a good set of latches, invest in them! To prevent freezing, consider installing the latch inside the door.

How to Maintain a Ventilated Barn

Livestock require ventilated air to thrive in a sealed barn. Especially in the winter, when doors are sealed shut and the barn is closed, allowing for good ventilation is crucial. Warm air rises while cold air sinks, accumulating on the floor of the barn with toxic substances. Among the most toxic include ammonia from waste, bacteria, dust from bedding, mold, and fungus. Poor ventilation also allows moisture to condensate in stalls, without drying out, increasing the possibility of moldy bedding. Allowing for ventilation moves the cold, toxic air out while the warm air sinks down, exchanging stale air for fresh air without increasing drafts.

Convection, aspiration, and perflatation are the three primary ways air is ventilated throughout a barn. According to Equus Magazine:

Convection causes a cycle called the “stack effect” where warm air rises and flows out through roof or high wall vents, drawing in cool air through openings lower in the barn. Aspiration is when wind blowing across the roof creates a low-pressure area, a vacuum, which pulls air out of the barn through vents or any other openings. Perflatation is when air moves through a barn by passing through openings (windows, doors, and vents) located on opposite walls. 

Thus, a balance of ventilation and weatherstripping during the cold, winter months build a healthy environment for livestock and employees.

RW Hardware: Barns, Stables, and Equine

RW Hardware has been keeping barn and equine environments on track with rugged, smooth hardware. We have been providing the industry’s strongest supplies for barns, stables, and equine for over 140 years. Our equipment supports barn and stable doors from 200 – 1,000 pounds.

To inquire about a safe, secure, and simple solution for your homestead, contact us today!