How to Build a Pet Door

Learning how to build a pet door can give your animal a sense of freedom and you a break from your doorman duties. A pet door is most secure in a back door with a fenced in yard and least secure installed in the front door of your home.

How To Build A Pet Door Sparky Will Love

  • Sizing the door. It is important to properly size the pet door before you begin installation. The width of the pet door should be two inches wider than widest part of your pet and two inches taller than the length from the top of your pet's shoulder to her chest. An inexpensive way to test for size is to cut a hole (that matches the proposed door size) in a large sheet of cardboard and then encourage you pet through the hole.
  • Build or buy? There are many commercial pet doors available in process ranging from $30 to well $100. These doors provide a professional looking finish and some security features not available in a do it yourself solution. A DIY pet door, on the other hand, can be built for $10 or so-even cheaper if you have spare parts and fasteners lying around.
  • Working simple. No matter what route you choose, you'll need to make a hole in your door. The easiest way to do this is to take the door off its hinges and work horizontally with the door propped on sawhorses or other supports.
  • The door swings both ways. To build a pet door of your own, you'll need to cut an appropriately sized opening and then provide a door that will be heavy enough to keep out the cold, but light enough for your pet to open on her own.
  • Opening lines. To cut the opening in your door, mark the edges of the opening (centered in the door and about three inches from the bottom) with a pencil. Drill a 3/8" hole in each of the corners, making sure not to drill past the marked edges of your opening. Cut the opening in the door by inserting a jigsaw into the holes and cutting carefully along the lines. Sand the cut edges of the opening and cover the edges with a strip of heavy cloth to protect your pet from splinters.
  • Creating the door. Car floor mats are heavy enough to provide insulation, but flexible enough to be pushed aside by your pet. Cut two mats down to the size of the opening with an extra one-inch border. Mark and cut a slit on the sides and bottom of the doors, one inch from the edge to create the door flap.
  • Installing the door. Position one door over the opening with the flap opening facing down. Attach the edges of the door around the opening with one-inch wood screws spaced every two inches. Repeat this process for the outside surface of the opening. The two doors will create a small air lock that will help insulate the pet door.
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