Steps // How to Install a Dog Door
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Day-to-Day Timeline

 
Step One // How to Install a Dog Door

Day-to-Day Timeline

dog door built by Tom Silva for the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project, exploded view illustration
Illustration by Doug Adams

 

SATURDAY  Install the dog door (Steps 2-20).
SUNDAY  Install exterior trim and siding (Steps 18-20).

 
2 ×

Find the Best Location

 
Step Two // How to Install a Dog Door

Find the Best Location

Tom Silva uses a keyhole saw to carve out a location for the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Cut an inspection hole in the drywall near the center of where you want the door to go. Stick in a straightened coat hanger to locate any studs. Here, an outlet box cutout showed where one stud was. Rest the door template’s bottom edge on the floor, check it for level, and tape the template to the wall in a stud-free spot, if possible. Drill a horizontal 3⁄8-inch hole completely through the wall at each template corner, as shown.

 
3 ×

Cut Out the Drywall

 
Step Three // How to Install a Dog Door

Cut Out the Drywall

Tom Silva uses a reciprocating saw to cut out the dog door opening for the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Guide a reciprocating saw blade into the holes and make straight cuts between them, as shown. Remove and save any insulation. If no studs are in the opening, go to Step 7. Stuff or spray insulation in any voids behind the drywall and put 2x blocking behind all unsupported edges around the opening. Toe-screw each 2x to the sheathing, then screw the drywall to the 2xs.

 
4 ×

Remove any Studs

 
Step Four // How to Install a Dog Door

Remove any Studs

Tom Silva removes studs to make room for the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

If studs are in the way of the dog door, make room for a header by cutting out a 5 ½-inch-wide strip of drywall above the opening. Extend this cutout past both sides of the opening to the nearest stud. In this case, Tom cut through the stud under the window, and saved the cutout piece of drywall. Then, using a reciprocating saw, he cut out the exposed studs, as shown, and used a pry bar to lever them off the sheathing.

 
5 ×

Build in a New Header

 
Step Five // How to Install a Dog Door

Build in a New Header

Tom Silva builds a header to support the cut studs for the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

To support the cut studs, build a header in place by screwing 2x6s to the sheathing and to each other, as shown. Here, Tom used three 2x6s, plus an additional filler strip made of 1-inch foam insulation, to make the header flush with the framing. Rest one end of each board on the cut stud under the window.

 
6 ×

Add Support

 
Step Six // How to Install a Dog Door

Add Support

Tom Silva installs supports for the header made to accommodate the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Both ends of a header require support, so Tom cut a short 2x6 jack stud to fit tightly between the other end of the header and the bottom plate. After hammering the jack into place against the face of a full-length king stud, he fastened them together with 2 ½-inch deck screws, as shown. Then he added leftover insulation from Step 1 and filled any voids with spray foam. A second jack stud, set in line with the drywall’s cut edge and toe-screwed to the header and bottom plate, ensures that the dog door’s inner frame has solid backing on all four sides. Screw the saved strip of drywall onto the header.

 
7 ×

Cut the Sheathing

 
Step Seven // How to Install a Dog Door

Cut the Sheathing

Kevin O'Connor removes plywood house siding to make way for the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Remove the siding and house wrap within the area bounded by the holes made in Step 2, and 8 inches beyond. Next, cut through the sheathing on the top and sides of the opening with a reciprocating saw; use the framing alongside the opening to guide the blade. Draw a horizontal line 1 ½ inches below the lowest holes on either side, and cut along it with a circular saw. Push out the scrap sheathing, as shown.

 
8 ×

Rough-in the Sill

 
Step Eight // How to Install a Dog Door

Rough-in the Sill

Tom Silva creates the sill opening for the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Trim the bottom of the opening so it’s flat and slopes to the outside, as shown. Let the bottom edges of the sheathing and drywall guide the blade.

 
9 ×

Patch the Drywall

 
Step Nine // How to Install a Dog Door

Patch the Drywall

Tom Silva patches drywall with joint compound for the dog door opening at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Using a taping knife, fill the screw holes and any cracks around the opening with joint compound.

 
10 ×

Attach the Interior Panel

 
Step Ten // How to Install a Dog Door

Attach the Interior Panel

Tom Silva fastens the interior dog door panel at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Fasten the door to the blocking with the screws included in the kit.

Tip: The door’s height above the floor should be 2 inches greater than the height of the dog’s shoulder. For door-sizing guidelines, see the Size Chart.

 
11 ×

Weatherproof the Opening

 
Step Eleven // How to Install a Dog Door

Weatherproof the Opening

Kevin O'Connor weatherproofs the dog door opening at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Using a utility knife, cut a piece of builder’s felt wide enough to reach from the bottom edge of the interior door panel, across the sill, and 8 inches below it. Staple the felt to the sheathing only, not to the sill. Cut two strips of felt 8 inches wide and long enough to reach from 3 inches above the top of the opening to 8 inches below the sill. Slip the top 3 inches of each strip under the existing house wrap, align their long edges with the edges of the opening, and staple them to the sheathing, as shown.

 
12 ×

Flash the Sill

 
Step Twelve // How to Install a Dog Door

Flash the Sill

Kevin O'Connor flashes the dog door sill at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Cut the bottom piece of felt where it meets the face of the stud on each side of the opening. Press the resulting flap down flat against the sill so its top edge touches the door panel, as shown. Protect the exposed wood in the opening by stapling a strip of builder’s felt to each stud face and to the underside of the header. In this installation, Kevin also stapled the siding’s yellow rainscreen mesh up to the edges of the opening.

 
13 ×

Install the Outside Frame

 
Step Thirteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Install the Outside Frame

Kevin O'Connor applies spray foam insulation to the exterior do door frame so Tom Silva can press it into the opening at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

To prevent water from getting behind this frame, squirt a bead of spray foam into the frame’s inside corner around its entire perimeter, as shown. Immediately press it into place in the opening.

 
14 ×

Fasten the Frame

 
Step Fourteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Fasten the Frame

Tom Silva fastens the dog door frame at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

As soon as the frame is set, screw it to the studs on the sides of the opening, as shown.

 
15 ×

Cut the Metal to Fit

 
Step Fifteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Cut the Metal to Fit

Tom Silva uses an angle grinder to cut the aluminum dog door liner at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

The aluminum liner provided in the kit is bent in the factory to fit the door width, but it has to be cut in the field to fit the tunnel between the inside door panel and the outside frame. Mark the cutline, then make the cut using a jigsaw or an angle grinder fitted with a metal cut-off wheel, as shown. Here, Tom uses the edge of a piece of scrap trim to guide the cut.

 
16 ×

Apply Spray Foam

 
Step Sixteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Apply Spray Foam

Tom Silva applies spray foam insulation to dog door sill flashing at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Squirt a bead of foam over the sill flashing and partway up the sides, as shown. The foam acts as an adhesive, eliminating the need for fasteners in this vulnerable location.

 
17 ×

Set the Sill Liner

 
Step Seventeen // How to Install a Dog Door

Set the Sill Liner

Tom Silva attaches the bottom sill liner to the dog door at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Squeeze a bead of silicone sealant, supplied in the kit, along the outside edge of the liner’s bottom face. Now remove the metal’s protective film and fit the liner under the bottom edge of the inside frame, as shown. Press down firmly on the liner to ensure that it’s securely attached and that there aren’t any gaps in the sealant.

 
18 ×

Attach the Head Liner

 
Step Eighteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Attach the Head Liner

Tom Silva attaches the dog door head liner with spray foam and silicone sealant at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Following the same procedure used in Step 16 and 17, install the head liner piece, as shown. Because it’s protected from rain, it’s okay to screw this liner to the top of the outer frame.

 
19 ×

Fit the Side Liners

 
Step Nineteen // How to Install a Dog Door

Fit the Side Liners

Tom Silva fits the aluminum side liner of the dog door before trimming to fit at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Using a jigsaw or an angle grinder, cut each side liner to fit the depth of the tunnel, and trim the lower ends to match the angle of the sill. Cut the upper ends to overlap the ends of the head liner. Apply beads of silicone and spray foam, remove the protective film, and slip the liner in place, as shown.

 
20 ×

Fasten the Sides and the Exterior Trim

 
Step Twenty // How to Install a Dog Door

Fasten the Sides and the Exterior Trim

Tom Silva fastens the dog door side liners to the frame at the Arlington Arts and Crafts TV project
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

 

Screw the lower and upper ends of each side liner to the outer frame, as shown. Now, nail up the exterior trim that surrounds the dog door so it overlaps the face of the outer frame (see opener). Reinstall the siding up to the trim.

 
 

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