Protecting the Opening: Locksmith vs Weather

July 1, 2015
This door repair included replacing the existing threshold, perimeter weather stripping and door gap protection. The concrete floor and the wood jambs were in relatively good condition.

For many institutional and commercial locksmiths, maintenance includes making sure that weather stays on the outside of the buildings. The weather has the advantage when it comes to gaining entry into a building. It does not need a large opening; in fact a very small opening can be enough to create puddling and problems. We are on the disadvantage against weather as we need to have large openings to gain access and egress.

To help solve some of the weather problems, many of the newer buildings are constructed with weather protection; either by recessing the entry doors or building some type of structural protection into the exterior walls.

Unfortunately, for this installation, the upper level side entries appear to have been cut into the side of this building built in the 1930s. These inswinging 36" wide entries were probably installed post construction to accommodate the steel exterior stairs. The doors access offices, not hallways. Each of the door openings look very much like a window opening. The stucco curves around the edges, finishing against a wood jamb. These west-facing doors and windows have no weather protection.

When we inspected, moisture was in the office carpeting behind the lock and hinge side of the door. The moisture entered through the gap in the weather stripping and under the threshold; there was no leak in the ceiling or beyond the puddling.

Looking at the opening, problems could easily be seen. The perimeter gasketing did not contact the door in a number of areas. The threshold/door area did not seal. A vertical nylon brush was installed along the bottom of the exterior face of the door. The adhesive securing the threshold was no longer moisture resistant. It appeared the problems were not new. Partial fixes had been previously applied without much success.

The decision was made to take the time and spend the money to properly complete the repair, which included removing the existing threshold, perimeter weather stripping and door gap protection. The concrete floor and the wood jambs were in relatively good condition.

The new products are the latching panic saddle threshold, retainer with rain drip, snap cover perimeter gasketing with concealed fasteners and overhead rain drip guard. Choosing the appropriate threshold, weather strip and accessories include choosing the proper seal and, if applicable, brush. Depending upon the product and the application, seal material can be polyurethane, vinyl, polyprene or silicone. All of the weather protection products installed for this article are made of aluminum alloy.

The latching panic saddle threshold seal provides additional protection that was needed for the entry. Each of the companies listed at the end of this article have online catalogs that enable locksmiths to make product decisions. Most of these companies offer product support and can offer recommendations.

Once the proper hardware was ordered and received, the entry had to be properly prepared. The old threshold and perimeter weather strip had to be removed and the surfaces prepared. A wire brush, solvent and scraper were used to clean the surfaces of dirt, loose paint, etc. The threshold was installed first. This is because the perimeter weather stripping is installed on top of the threshold.

PEMKO Latching Panic Saddle Threshold provides a built in doorstop that runs the width of the opening. The threshold was mounted onto the indoor/outdoor carpet without padding glued to the floor in this office. Additional holes were drilled in the threshold to secure the carpet.

The second component to be installed was the aluminum retainer with rain drip that contacts the face of the door just above the bottom. The seal compresses against the door as it closes, providing weather resistance. The latching panic saddle threshold came pre-drilled. Drilling additional holes, especially if there are two different surfaces, helps ensure the threshold will stay in place. Always use flat head screws and counter-sink the openings in the threshold to have a smooth surface.

The new threshold was cut to length using a reciprocating saw and form-fit to the jambs using a battery operated die grinder. Protective equipment was worn during the installation. Sizing the threshold was accomplished away from the door opening to insure the burrs did not enter into the office.

After the threshold was dry-fit, hole locations were marked and holes drilled using a hammer drill and concrete bits. Three holes were drilled over the carpet, one at each end and one in the middle. The anchors were checked for fit. Then several non-hardening sealant cartridges were used to provide a protective coating securing the threshold to the concrete. The threshold was installed and the anchor screws were tightened securing the threshold to the carpet.

The aluminum retainer with rain drip was cut to size and mounted onto the exterior side of the door above the threshold saddle and the bottom edge of the door. The retainer's rain drip (lip) deflects any water running down the door approximately 9/16" beyond the saddle and seal, forcing the water to run down the exterior portion of the threshold away from the building. For this application, the vinyl insert was installed.

To complete the seal around the door, snap cover perimeter gasketing was installed. The gasketing was measured and carefully cut to length. The top corner was miter cut at 45 degrees and the base cut was angled to accommodate the aluminum retainer's rain lip. The header (horizontal) portion was miter cut at 45 degrees to mate with the vertical. This way when the door was closed, the perimeter gasketing seal pressed against the exterior face of the door along the hinge and lock edges and the header. Note: Slide excess seal onto section installed before rough cut.

A thin coat of sealant was spread to make the perimeter gasketing adhere to the jamb. Once dry, a coat of primer and the trim color was painted between the stucco and the perimeter gasketing to protect the wood and provide a more complete seal.

The decision was made to use concealed screw perimeter gasketing for several reasons: to prevent people from easily removing it and for a second reason, hopefully, preventing employees not authorized to make adjustments/repairs from working on the weather stripping.

To be certain the components would be properly installed to prevent moisture infiltration, everything was temporarily (dry) fit and the door was closed. From the inside of the building, we checked for light infiltration. If outside light could be seen, the gasketing or threshold was not in the proper position.

The final component to making the opening resistant to moisture infiltration was an overhead rain drip guard. The curved aluminum alloy extrusion extends 2-1/2" from the mounting surface. When installed above the door on the wall, the rain drip guard prevents water from running down the wall and entering the doorway. The mounting surface has pre-drilled openings for screws. Because the wall was relatively smooth, a relatively thin coat of sealant was spread onto the drip guard before being pressed against the stucco. When ordering, the overhead rain drip should be at least four inches wider than the total door opening, providing at least an additional two inches of protection on each side.

We checked to be sure the butting hinge screws were tight as well as the door closer mounting screws. We made sure the door closer operates properly, opening, closing and securing the door.

Protecting an entry in today's world should include protection against air and moisture infiltration. This has been validated by global security products providers Allegion and ASSA Abloy purchasing commercial door and window accessories products companies Zero International and Pemko. For locksmiths, expanding your offering to include threshold and weather-stripping applications brings additional value to your customers.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or:

  • Hager Co. Telephone: 800-325-9995, Web Site:
  • National Guard Products, Inc. Telephone: 800-647-7874, Web Site:
  • PEMKO. Telephone: 800-283-9988. Web Site:
  • Reese Enterprises, Inc. Telephone: 800-328-0953. Web Site:
  • Zero International. Telephone: 718-585-3230.Web Site: