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How To Install A Pet Door

How To Install A Pet Door

Endura Flap Pet Door Installation

In a perfect world my two Labrador pups would let themselves in and out of the house as needed – and make their own dinner!

Although we don’t live in a perfect world that doesn’t mean we don’t strive for greater efficiency and better solutions. My search for this led me to installing a pet door. In this article I offer you my thoughts and tips on how to choose, measure for and install a quality pet door.

What’s a pet door?

A pet door, also known as a cat door and dog door, is a small portal in a wall, window or door to allow pets to enter and exit a house on their own.

The value of a pet door:

These doors are great for allowing your pet free access to the outdoors, providing emergency egress in case of a fire or other emergency, assisting when potty training and also allowing guard dogs access to the property.

It’s also a great feature for pet owners who work long hours and want their pets to have free access to a fenced in yard or other location. A pet door eliminates the need to rely on neighbors or friends to let your pet out.

Types of Pet Doors?

Today’s pet doors have spring loaded, flexible flap doors with strong magnets to close and seal the door flap from the weather. Some pet doors are electronically controlled by a Rfid chip on the animals collar. The Rfid chip unlocks the pet door as the animal approaches and locks it after they pass through.

The most common pet door is the flap door which is also the most cost effective and easiest to install.

Most folks don’t opt for the more complicated electronic door unless they have security issues or are concerned with stray animals entering the home. Other issues with electronic doors include battery failure in the animal’s collar or, should the collar be removed or lost, failure of the pet door to open.

How To Install A Pet Door Video:

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Advantages of a Pet Door In a Wall vs. A Door

Pet doors can be installed in walls, in a door and even come as a special panel to allow a pet door installation in a sliding door unit.

Wall units have several advantages over door units. First, a wall unit allows for a double flap pet door to be installed. A double wall pet door creates an air space between flaps and provides a superior weather seal and less air leakage. Double door flaps are far superior in energy efficiency than single door flaps.

A pet door cut through a door typically ruins the door and that door will need to be replaced when the owner decides to remove the pet door. A flap door cut into an existing door is typically more costly than a wall unit which only requires repairing wallboard and some siding.

A pet door in a wall also gives the owner more options for placement. A wall entrance placed in low traffic areas (an alcove, closet or rarely used hallway) keeps it away from entrance doors which are usually highly visible.

How To Measure Your Dog:

To determine the proper width of the pet door for your animal open a door just wide enough for your animal to comfortably walk through. That measurement is your pet door flap width.

Sometimes the install location dictates height as well, a baseboard radiator dictated our minimum height: real world conditions. Always follow recommendations but also deal with the environment as you find it where the install will take place.

Special Considerations and Issues? [Exterior wall finishes]

In our situation we had two things working to our disadvantage. The location where we wanted to place our pet door also had 8-inch high hot water baseboard radiators along the wall at the floor level. This meant that our pet door had to be installed over the radiator.

The pet door exited onto a covered porch that was 7-inches lower than the floor of the mudroom closet. This meant that the pet door was 13-inches off the exterior porch deck which was much too high for my dogs.

Because this was the only location for the pet door we decided to install it and construct a 2-foot square stoop for the dogs to stand on as they entered or exited the pet door. This worked very well.

Hidden dangers inside the wall – tips to look for.

Prior to installing a pet door in the wall, pay close attention to what is behind the wallboard. Things like pipes and wires can cause problems and you don’t want to have to relocate you door and then patch an area you didn’t use.

Some tips for locating hidden obstructions is to do the following:

Features To Consider When Purchasing A Pet Door

Our research told us that the Edura FlapWall Mounted Pet Door was the better quality door to install and best for our needs.

We used several criteria when deciding on a pet door manufacturer. They were:

Flexible Flap Design:

A flexible flap door allows the pet to enter, exit or back out without the danger of pinching the animal.


Embedded magnets in the flap and frame of the pet door ensure a tight seal.

Double Flap Feature:

A double flap pet door creates an air space that helps insulate and keep the conditioned air in the house. We felt that the double flap doors in our 2×6 framed walls would be beneficial for New England winters as well as when the AC is on in July.

Flap Pivot Point:

The flaps swing on a rod, not a hinge to avoid stressing or cracking the flap as can happen on hinged flaps. Endura tested their pet doors over 3 million times with no failures. To put that in layman’s terms that equals 100 opens and closes a day for 80 years. (We’d love to see their testing jig!)

Wind Resistance:

A strong wind or Nor’easter can easily blow open a pet door. Endura Flap magnets are rated to 50 mph winds and more magnets can be added if desired.

Temperature Resistance and UV Retardant:

The endure flap door is made of a polyethylene based polymer and is rated to flex to minus 40 degrees. Vinyl doors will crack at temperatures that low. Direct sunlight can also cause fading and cracking: the Endura flap door is treated with a UV retardant.

Clear See-Thru Door:

The pet door flaps are clear (contrasting between the wall and the door) and allowing light to pass through and the pet to see through as well.

Security Panel:

Most pet doors have a security panel to close off and lock the pet door. We liked how the Endura Flap door slides and locks between a full length groove on three sides of the frame. The security panel then locks in place. We do this at night for added security as well as to reduce heat loss.

Tools Needed:

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How To Install A Pet Door

Determine Location:

Consider floor levels and step downs when choosing your location.

In our situation we had a radiator running along the floor in the install location. In addition to the 7-8” of height needed to clear this radiator the porch outside was 7-inches lower than the house floor so we had 15-inches of drop on the exterior side. This meant that we needed to build a ramp or stoop for the dogs.

Also consider installing your pet door under a covered roof or porch as it offers the best rain and inclement weather protection.

Locating Space Between Studs:

The easiest installation involves installing this pet door between two existing wall studs. Wall stud finders work well but I always confirm the stud finder’s readings by using a small finish nail and poking a few holes.

Try to locate the two wall studs so you can install your per door between them.

Note – If you need to cut a stud, special framing is required to prevent structural degradation.

A Tip in Locating Wall Studs:

Look closely at the top edge of the baseboard trim in the area of the possible pet door location, try to locate the finish nail locations. Many times the upper nail locations will indicate a wall stud location.

Wall studs typically run 16-inches on center leaving approximately 14-1/2 inches of space between them. Other common wall spacing is 12-inch and 24-inches on center.


Statistics say that 80 percent of the population is right handed and I apply that theory to locations of electrical outlets and wall studs in this way: 80 percent of the time the outlet will be installed in the right side of a wall stud because right-handed electricians will swing their hammer from right to left to install the outlet box onto the stud.

Depending on the pet door size, electrical wires can usually be left undisturbed in a stud bay with the pet door tunnel.

Installing Template:

The pet door provides a template, which you tape to the wall [between the wall studs] where the door will be installed. Double check for hidden wall obstructions, wires, pipes and studs.

Install the template with a level to keep it square to the floor and to insure a proper look after installation. I located the top of my door, leveled a line and then installed the template to that line.

Cutting Wall and Siding:

Use a long drill bit or feeler wire to mark the 4 corners of the door. This means drilling all the way through the wall to the outside.

I used (?) insulation rods which measure 16 inches long and can easily be installed in a drill. The rods easily penetrate all of the wall materials and are long enough to see (to be seen?) on both sides of the wall.

Use a level or straight edge to connect the four corner holes on both sides of the wall.

Use a jigsaw or drywall jab-saw to cut the wallboard out and a jigsaw to cut out the siding and plywood sheathing. I like using a jigsaw because the blade doesn’t penetrate as deep as a reciprocating saw thus eliminating the chance of hitting a hidden wall pipe or wire.

TIP – Use a shop vacuum to collect the dust while cutting – this will dramatically reduce the airborne drywall dust in the house as well as the clean up after installation.


Carefully remove only the insulation that will be in the way of the pet door. Later, while installing the pet door, re-use some of this insulation and tuck it into the sides, bottom and top of the cut hole and pet door channel.

Putting Together the Pet Door:

Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for putting the pet door weather stripping on and constricting the wall channel. The wall channel is an aluminum tunnel between the two door flaps. It protects the inside cavity of the wall and seals it off as well.

Our Edura Flap pet door had 4 threaded rods that clamp the two door flap units tight to the house sheathing and to the wall cavity tunnel. This creates a tight seal and secure installation.

Recessing the Exterior to Look Right:

I have cedar clapboard siding on my house. Once the wall holes were cut I used the door flap frame as a guide and carefully cut away the clapboard siding to recess the frame in between the siding. This provided a professional looking installation and avoided unsightly and leaky gaps along the side of the frame and clapboards.

The best tool to do this cutting is an oscillating multi-tool. We used the FEIN Multi-Master FMM 250Q to make these cuts. Any multi-tool will work as would repetitive scoring with a straight edge and utility knife – but that takes a lot of time!

Sealing the Siding:

Caulk the siding to the door-frame when complete. Also apply a bead of silicone to the inside of the flap frame and the tunnel to keep water from getting into the wall cavity.

TIP – install the pet door in a protected area and eliminate the worry of water getting into the wall.

Training the Door to Use the Door:

With patience you can train your pets to use this door. The one rule when training is never to shove your pets through the door.

After doing this a few times over a few days we started only using the pet door to allow the pets access to the outdoors. We kept treats near the door and when our two dogs went to the back door and whimpered we simply took our treats to the side door went outside and coaxed the dogs through the pet door.

If the animal is having difficulty you can reduce or eliminate the magnets until they get the hang of pushing the door.  Within two to three days our two dogs were using the pet door with no issues.

Safety Warning:

If you have a child, he or she may be able to crawl through your new pet door. Never install a pet door if it could expose a child to danger.

 Temperature Testing

Building The Pet Door Step


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