I have installed several prehung exterior steel entry doors over the last
few years, and virtually all of them have minor leaks somewhere around the
bottom. The first was the entry door to our garage, which has now rotted
and will need replacing this summer. Obviously, I don't want any other
doors to rot like the first one, or worse yet cause structural damage to
I've tried to follow the best building practices I can, wrapping the wall
felt into the door opening, applying flashing tape around the opening
(bottom, sides, then top), caulking with high quality PL polyurethane
caulking, etc. The exterior door frame is completely sealed and there's no
possible way water is coming in around the exterior of the frame.
As far as I can tell, the water comes in somewhere around the door sill at
the bottom. I'm not positive, but I think the water runs down the sides of
the door against the weatherstripping then along the crack between the
metal sill and the the wood jambs. I've tried caulking these joints also,
which has helped, but the water is still getting in somewhere.
Unfortunately, there's no overhanging roof to protect most of the doors,
and adding an external storm door is not an option either.
I'm stumped. It shouldn't be this difficult to make a door water tight...
A lot of my doors and windows have a piece of angle tacked above the
top trim & it seems enough to make it drip away fro the door or
window. The older ones are lead, or something really soft, but so long
as it is metal it should work. Drip edge for roofing comes to mind.
When I built the shed shown below, I installed vinyl drip edge on the
roof edges. When I looked at the trim above the doors, it looked like
a place that could used some protection, so I installed a piece of
drip edge on top of that and caulked the seam. When it rains, I can
see the water dripping out away from the doors so it appears to be
doing it's job.
What Eric is referring to is called Z flashing. One edge tucks up under
the siding above the door or window, the center (horizontal) section
extends over the top edge of the door or window and the opposite edge
extends downward at an angle outward. The whole purpose is to keep water
off of the top edge and from running down the side. Therefore, it's
important that it extend outward past the right & left sides of your door
Three doors leak, none of which are anywhere close to the ground.
1. Garage entry door. Top is protected by a 12" roof overhang with a full
gutter system. Bottom of door sill sits about 4" higher than the concrete
walk in front of it.
2. Back door of house. Gable roof end only overhangs about 6" and is
approximately 12' above the door. The sill of the door is roughly three
feet off the ground with a wood landing about 6" below the door.
3. Front door at in-laws. Hip roof overhangs about 18", but no gutters
installed. Door sill is roughly three feet off the ground with a wood
landing about 6" below the door.
In all cases, the only source of water would be windblown rain, or
splashback from the deck/patio below the door. The doors can't be raised
any higher and still comply with stair height codes.
Is it on an eave side where the water splashes up? If so, you need to
stop the water from splashing or stop it from running off the roof so
intensely. Mulch may be a quick half effort thing but that may get washed
away and/or dragged in the garage and/or just look like crap.
Can a rain diverter be put under the shingles above? Certainly would help
Actually, they are called roofs or awnings. This is one of the things we
lost when deep covered porches went away. Exterior doors really need an
overhang over them. They also need a step down in front of them, so
there is no ponding at threshold level. My garage service door has same
problem, but I won't replace it until I figure out how to lay some
pavers in front of it a couple inches lower than threshold level, and
maybe also add a little eyebrow awning over it that doesn't look TOO
tacky. Front door needs a roof too, but short of adding an actual
dormer to the house roof, no way to do it that would look right. Top of
door is only a couple inches below the soffit. Overhangs on that part of
the house are only 18" or so, instead of the 36" they should have been.
Gutters are another option. What I was mentioning is the strip that under
the shingles a few rows up and slants to one side.
But if wind driven rain against the door is the root cause, none of that
will help. As mentioned, storm door.
Wind driven rain runs down the outside of a door to the threshold
where it is supposed to flow down and off without entering the house.
Unfortunately this is not always the case. Some finds it's way in
around the door edges and weatherstripping. If it can't run in
directly it may wick in through the smallest cracks.
I believe this is a common problem that many people are unaware of
because water soaks in under the flooring around the threshold and
goes unnoticed until the problem becomes a major one.
Two of my neighbors have the same problem. By the way we are all
building are own houses and are living ln them as they are being
completed. I found and corrected a few problems that would not have
been very visible once the finishing had been completed.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to stop the water leaking in, I
ended up installing storm doors on all my outside doors. Not a drop
of water on the floor after that.
The storm doors keep the inside door warmer during the winter. They
may eventually pay for themselves in reducing heat loos through the doors.
Yep, we had the same problem with the entry doors of our old mobile home.
No amount of caulking would prevent the leaking, but a storm door did stop
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons I do not want storm doors on the
doors that are leaking. Especially for the garage and back doors where
we're often hauling large objects in and out. My in-laws just splurged on
a decorative door and don't want to cover it with a storm door.
Well, you can solve the problem or replace the sills over and over, your
There are full-exposure s-doors that won't hide the face of the inner
door if that is a requirement.
W/O pictures including installation details it's hard to make any
specific conjecture but I'd say the likely culprit is there is no slope
outward so water stays where it lands rather than drains. As well,
capillary action may be pulling some under the sill if there is any
small crack at all.
Depending on where and how they were caulked, it (the caulk) may be
server more as a drainage dam than as a sealant.
On Fri, 22 Jan 2010 15:30:21 +0000 (UTC), HerHusband
I say you are correct. Often door jambs are not prime/sealed at the
bottom, so water wicks up into the wood.
Caulking is best done when the door was/is installed, not as a fix
Exterior doors clean the sill, caulk along the jamb sides the width of
the threshold. Run two 1/2 inch beads of silly-caulk the length of the
threshold and set the door. Apply some foot pressure to seat (TH).
Caulk lines (top view)
When I installed the doors I wrapped the wall felt into the door opening.
Then I applied flexible door/window flashing tape along the bottom of the
opening, extending it about 6" up the sides of the rough opening. Next, I
applied the flashing tape along the sides of the opening, and finally
along the top of the door. All layers overlapping in shingle fashion.
Before setting the door in place, I ran three beads of caulking along the
bottom of the rough opening, with a little extra along each side in the
corners. I also ran a bead around the outside of the opening, so the
brick moulding sealed against the sheathing when I fastened the door in
place. After installing the siding, another layer of caulk was applied
between the siding and brick moulding (top and sides).
I also caulked all seams on the exterior door trim, jambs, etc. EXCEPT
for the bottom of the door sill. This allows any water that might find
it's way in to have a way to get out. The gap is covered by lower trim,
so there's no way water can splash in from the outside. The beads of
caulking under the door sill ensure any water that does end up under the
door should go out and not into the building.
Once the door was fully installed, I also caulked along the inside of the
door sill, and about 12" up between the framing and door jamb on each
side. The larger gaps up higher were filled with minimally expanding
On the outside of the door, I caulked the seams on each side where the
metal sill meets the wood jambs.
Despite all my efforts, water is still coming in somewhere (showing up as
a small leak on the subfloor right in front of the door jamb, centered on
the door opening). At first I thought it was water dripping off the
bottom of the door when the door was opened, but my in-laws confirmed it
shows up even when the door has been closed all night.
In the future, I'm thinking of installing special sill flashing like
www.jambsill.com, but that's of little help with the current doors.
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