How to Easily Install a Pet Door

Written by  //  October 3, 2012  //  Home Structure  //  Comments Off on How to Easily Install a Pet Door

Pets may be your friends or seem like members of your family. However, unlike children, pets never learn to open doors to let themselves out or to come back inside the house. You can give more freedom to your pets as well as to yourself if you install a pet door in your existing door.

A pet door will allow your pets to go outside any time they like, and they can come in without first getting your attention by barking or scratching. In addition, after installing a pet door, you will not have to stop what you are doing to let your pets out into the yard or to let them back inside. Listed below are instructions on how to install a pet door in your wood or steel entrance door.

Materials Needed:

  • Large piece of sturdy cardboard
  • Pet door kit

Tools Needed:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Adhesive tape
  • Level
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit set which includes ½-inch size
  • Jigsaw
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Pliers


Step 1. Measure Your Largest Pet

Use the tape measure to determine your pet’s width at its widest point and its height from its shoulder tops to the bottom of the chest behind its front legs. Add 2 inches to both of those measurements to allow for clearance. If your pet is young and may continue to grow, select a door with an opening large enough to account for your pet’s adult size.

When determining the dimensions for your pet door, remember that you may want to adopt a companion for your pet at some time. Do not make the door too small to accommodate a larger animal unless you are certain you will not need it.

Before buying your pet door kit, cut a hole the size of your intended pet door opening into a sturdy piece of cardboard. If your pet can get through the hole easily, you have chosen the right size.

Step 2. Purchase a Pet Door

Select the door that suits your needs and your pet’s size. Pet door kits include fitted frames and the hardware needed to install them, and many kits have templates that help you position the doors correctly. Most kits also have flexible flaps that close behind pets after they enter or exit their homes.

Step 3. Cut a Template

If your pet door kit has a template, cut it according to the instructions, or make your own template from a piece of sturdy cardboard. Center and tape the template to your door at least three inches higher than the door’s bottom edge. Consider the animals chest and topline height when placing the template. Use a level to position the template properly.

Step 4. Mark the Door

Using a pencil, mark your door around the inside edge of the template opening. If you will use screws for attaching hardware to the door, mark the spots for the screws as well. After taking the template off your door, mark the inside corners of the opening to indicate the correct places to drill.

Step 5. Drill

Using a 1/2-inch drill bit in your electric drill, bore a hole inside the outline at each corner. If you will use screws for attaching hardware, drill holes for them at your marked spots with the appropriate size bit.

Step 6. Cut Out the Opening

Insert the blade of your jigsaw into one of the 1/2-inch holes you drilled in the corners. Use care to cut the door along your pencil mark all around the outline.

Step 7. Install Outer Frame

From the door exterior, insert the pet door’s outer frame into the opening. If the frame is not flush with the inside surface of your door, remove the frame and look for score marks on its inner edge. Using your pliers, break off one level of the frame at a time, checking the fit after removing each layer. When the frame fits flush with the inner door surface, run a small bead of caulk around the door opening and fasten the frame to the door with screws.

Step 8. Install Inner Frame

The flap will be on the pet door’s inner frame. Insert that frame into the interior door face, and attach the frame in place with screws inserted in the spots you drilled, tightening the screws just until they are snug.

Be patient, and allow your pets time to get accustomed to using their new pet door before leaving them alone for long periods.

Author Information
Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate. Chris has been helping customers since 2000, and often writes for Home Depot’s blog, on topics ranging from ranging from light bulbs to home automation.

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