If you’re a homeowner who’s used to dealing with old, leaky windows, you’ve probably had your share of harsh winters already. As the owner of a historic house, there’s nothing more frustrating than maintaining beautiful older windows at the cost of your home’s internal temperature, especially when it gets cold and those high winds start to blow. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple way that you can keep your current windows and keep out drafts.

All you have to do is know how to do a great job of weatherstripping in time for the cold weather. Weatherstripping doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. All it takes is a few household tools and a free weekend before winter starts. Even if you’re not concerned about home drafts, keeping your windows protected from the elements will go a long way toward helping you regulate your home’s temperature and lower those yearly energy bills. For weathertight windows, read on.

Take Your Window Apart

The first thing to do when making your windows fully weatherproofed is to start from the base. That means taking apart your window fully, beads, sashes and all. This may feel time-consuming, but window replacement experts all agree that it has to be done if you really want to seal up your windows completely. When you only weatherproof each window from the outside and inside borders, you’re not actually eliminating the problem of cold air flow. When cold air can find a way in, it will certainly find a way out.

Taking everything apart piece by piece will allow you to refit your window without any gaps whatsoever, keeping the cold air completely out in the process. You may need to refit and remeasure a few key parts, like your top and side beads, and if you’re using weatherstripping on the inside, it’s possible that you’ll need to shave it down to fit. Be careful during this part: If you shave too close, you’ll be creating a gap for cold air to escape through. Shave too little off, and your window won’t fit, rendering all your work pointless. Ideally, you should do your measurements first to make sure you’re buying the right parts and pieces.

Install Your Internal Weatherstripping

After your window is gutted, it’s time to apply the weatherstripping itself. If you need to do any routing to make sure your window’s base and sides are even, this is the time to do it. Routing will make it much easier for your weatherstripping to closely adhere to your window’s borders and do its job. The type of weatherstripping you purchase will depend on your budget and window type. However, if you’re looking to create a truly airtight seal, purchasing a silicone weatherstripping bar is a great way to keep the cold out. The silicone molds to your window’s frame, making it easy to seal and protect your window from the inside. If your weatherstripping isn’t matching up, try trimming it a bit. Make sure it fits completely flush with the inside of your window before moving forward.

Close All the Gaps

After your weatherstripping is set and you’ve put in any extra insulation you need inside your window’s frame, you’re ready to replace your window and do a bit of extra caulking for protection. Now that you’ve sealed up your window from the inside, caulking and sealing each window’s border will serve as a handy stopgap to keep the air from getting in. With your weatherstripping and internal insulation in place, cold air won’t stand a chance against your window. While caulking, make sure you’re also taking the time to clear away old weatherstripping from previous seasons. If you’re just adding caulking and tape over the older material, you won’t be doing much to protect your window from the outside. Old caulking can be taken off by hand or gently scraped off using a paint chipper or similar tool. This is also a good time to inspect the quality of the wood around your window’s border.

Do a Thorough Final Check

Now that your window is firmly in place and you’ve applied extra caulking around the border, it’s time to do a full check around your home. Start from the outside and work your way around the house, check for gaps or air leaks around each window’s border. When that’s finished, start checking from the inside. If you’re noticing any leaks, try taking your window out again and inspecting your silicone weatherstripping bar to make sure it lines up perfectly with your window’s border.