Pet Doors for 'People' Doors
Pet Doors to Install in 'People' Doors
The versatile 'door mount' is what most people think of as a pet door: Cut a hole in the back door and screw it on. They are all designed to easily install in a flat surfaced, solid core door. Hollow core doors, including metal doors, are no problem if you make sure you've chosen a 'self-framing' dog door or cat door. If you've got something different, you might find some help on our installation problems page.
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However, there are quite a few considerations including how well the door seals, insulation value, appropriate size for the pet, wind resistance and specific features to name a few. We've presented a great deal of detailed information to help you with this selection process.
Some of these doors are self-framing which is an important feature. If you get a self-framing pet door, be sure to confirm that your door thickness is within the adjustment range.
All of these pet doors come with a locking cover, or other method of locking the door shut, unless otherwise noted.
A special note on doors specifically for cats: Most of the pet doors presented here come in various sizes, for example small, medium, large and X-large. The small size is generally a fine choice for a cat. However, there is a whole class of pet doors commonly referred to as 'cat flaps' which are specifically for cats. These are found in this section but also separately in our Just for Cats section where it's easier to choose just among that group.
Q - Does it matter if my door is hollow core rather than solid core?
A - It used to matter a lot. In the old days pet doors consisted of a frame and flap assembly for one side of the door and sometimes, but not always, a decorative trim frame for the other side.
These worked fine in a sold core wood door (though you did need to seal the exposed wood if you didn't want rot). If you wanted to install one of these in a hollow core door, you had to "frame out" the door first so that the weather didn't get inside the door between the two pet door frames. Of course, the lumber yard didn't have any wood that would fit inside the sides of the hole that you cut so you needed a table saw to fit the frame pieces. It was a huge hassle.
Then Pet Eze Company developed a pet door where the outside frame wrapped through the hole in the door to meet with the inside frame. All you had to do was caulk the seam between the two and you were done. No framing or sealing needed!
Today nearly every pet door on the market is self-framing though not all and you should remember to check especially if your door is hollow-core.
Q - Why else might I want to use a "self-framing" pet door?
A - An important reason is that the job ends up neat and clean. If there are any jaggies in the hole you cut, no worries. You won't see them because the pet door framing will hide them. Another reason is that this will make it easy to seal everything in, so that moisture does not get inside the frame and cause damage.
Q - Does it matter how thick the door is? I want to install my pet door in a storm door that is thinner than a normal door.
A - Every self-framing pet door has an adjustment range that indicates the thinnest door it can be installed in and the thickest. Go too thin and the pet door framing prevents a tight fit. Go too thick and the inside and outside frames don't meet. So measure the thickness of the material that the pet door will go into and make sure that figure is inside the range of the pet door you are considering. Each self-framing pet door on this site shows this adjustment range in the "Details" section on each specific product page.
Note that you can always shim out the opening if the door is too thin. Clever work with a router can fix the case where the door is too thick.
Q - How thin can the material I install in be? Can I put it in the kick panel of a screen door?
A - Nearly every self-framing pet door will fit the "standard" interior door dimension (1 3/8") and the "standard" exterior door dimension (1 3/4"). A few high-end exterior doors now are 2 1/4" and a few pet doors will accommodate that (such as the Endura Flap). Likewise, many pet doors will adjust to quite thin dimensions. Several cat doors start at zero! (They are designed with a tunnel extending from the read of the flap assembly and a trim frame that slides down that tunnel until it stops). If your door is even thicker than 2 1/4", you might look into installing a pet door meant for walls and simply trim the tunnel down to the depth you need!
For your screen door kick panel the ideal adjustment range would go to zero since your metal may be a little less than 1/16". If you need to, of course, you can use thin shims around the hole you cut to get the necessary thickness. Be sure you leave enough door framing top and bottom for the strength of the door.
Q - Does it matter that my door is steel or aluminum?
A - If we were discussing electronic pet doors than it might very well matter but this section is devoted to manual pet doors and they don't care what the material is provided it's strong enough to provide the necessary support.
Q - The door I want to install a pet door in is a fire door
A - The pet door won't care, but your insurance agent might. Check with him first.
Q - I want to install in an irregular surfaced door. Is any pet door designed for that?
A - No. Every pet door wants to be installed on a flat surface. Or, at the very least, the four corners must be at the same level with nothing thicker in between. Our installation problems page shows one solution to his problem. If that looks like too much work then you can cut the hole so that 2 or 3 corners are on the same level and use shims to bring the remaining corner(s) up to the same level. If you've used a self-framing pet door then a bead of caulk inside the frame along the low spots will make the seal tight. Caution: It's best to use a pet door with a flexible flap whenever there's a chance that the surface isn't perfectly flat. The reason is that rigid flaps can easily bind in their frames if there is any mis-alignment whereas flexible flaps are more forgiving.
Q - Any special thoughts about installing a pet door in a garage door?
A - Everything above applies to a garage door installation as well. Your garage door is probably hollow and may be thinner than an ordinary door so, again, use a self-framing pet door and be sure the thickness is inside the adjustment range. Deal with any irregular surface and be sure you leave enough of the garage door top and bottom so as not to weaken it.
That said, there's one issue that comes up only with garage doors. If you've installed a flexible flap pet door, the flap is probably going to hang down when the door is open. If you leave the garage door open for long periods, the flexible material is likely to take a "set" and not seal well when the garage door is closed. This is particularly true of the cheaper pet doors that one naturally thinks of for a garage. This problem disappears with a rigid flap pet door or a flexible flap one that has magnets strong enough to keep the flap shut even when tilted flat.
A final thought: It's not so hard to injure or kill a pet by backing over him. Unfortunately, we know of cases where this has happened. Please don't install a pet door in your garage door unless you've got a fool-proof plan for avoiding this tragedy.
Q - How should I install a pet door in a recessed panel people door?
A - The easiest way to do this is to straddle the recessed area of one of the panels so that the pet door sits on the flat area in the middle, on the side, and below the recessed panel. The pet door frame will cross the recessed area on the top, and at this point, extra attention is required. The easiest way to fill this gap is to get battens or shims from a local hardware store, and cut them to fit into the gap between the door and the recessed panel. When that gap is mostly filled in, caulk the remaining areas to seal the pet door to the door surface.
Q - Any other important points?
A - Yes. First, use a level. You want your flap to swing parallel to the ground. Second, plan carefully the height at which you are going to mount the pet door. If you're having a handyman do it for you be sure to supervise him because he won't know the correct height. More information on this point is at measure your pet.
Q: Will this pet door allow my pet to go in AND out?
A: Yes, all the doors will allow your pets to enter and exit. However, there are certain doors that have ways you can allow your pets to go inside only or outside only. These are generally going to be smaller cat doors with the 4-way locking feature or in the larger electronic doors such as theHigh Tech Power Pet and PetSafe Passport doors.
Q: Do you have doors with aluminum frames?
A: Yes, Patio Pacific, PetSafe Freedom, Pride, Hale, Gun Dog House door, Mason Company Pickwick and Plexidor offer aluminum frames. Click here to see a nice comparison chart of all of these products in one table.
Q: Can all the doors be installed in hollow core doors?
A: Technically speaking, they can, but only self-framing doors are recommended for hollow core doors. If the doggy door is not self-framing there is no liner to close the space between the two frames meaning that you would be leaving the interior of the door exposed, framing of the interior of the door can possibly be done by you or a professional, depending on the type of door.
Q: Can I install one into a garage door?
A: Yes, a dog door can be installed in a garage door, but it is probably hollow and may be thinner than an ordinary door so we recommend going with one that is self-framing. Although, there are a few issues that arise such as how the flap may hang when the garage door is open as well as the overall safety of your pet in an area where cars may be coming and going. As a result, we don't particularly recommend this option, but a few products that would work include the Endura Flap pet doors as they have significantly more magnet strength to keep the flap in place when the door is raised and doors with rigid flaps like the Cat-Mate 221 so it won’t change shape or warp if it hangs for prolonged periods of time.
Q: Can I install a doggy door in a door that has panels?
A: You can install a dog door in a door that has panels, and the best way to do this is to straddle the recessed area of one of the panels so that the doggy door sits on the flat area in the middle, on the side, and below the recessed panel. The doggy door frame will cross the recessed area on the top, so you will be left with a gap. The easiest way to fill this gap is to get battens or shims from a local hardware store, and cut them to fit into the gap between the door and the recessed panel. When that gap is mostly filled in, caulk the remaining areas to seal the doggy door to the surface of the people door. There are some great photos on the PetSafe Freedom page that show some examples, and a few solutions to common installation problems on our site.
Q: I have Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Danes, is there one for Extra Large Breeds?
A: The Extra Large version of the Endura Flap is a viable option, at 12"w x 23"h. Also Hale makes a Giant size at 15-1/2"w x 27-1/2"h as well as custom dimension dog doors if you have very specific needs. There are more economical options, although they tend to be less durable, like theIdeal Super Large Ruff Weather or the PetSafe Freedom. Ultimately, we suggest that you measure them and choose the brand that would be the most suitable. You can find out how to measure your pet accordingly here.
Q: What if I need a door that is a specific size, to fit in an existing hole or specific area?
A: Sometimes it’s easier to make a pet door fit an existing hole than it is to make an existing hole fit a pet door. For this we have the Hale Custom Dimension Pet Door for Doors.
Q: What is a 4-way lock?
A: These locks allow 4 settings and are only available on the pet doors with rigid flaps.
- In-Only - When the cat comes in, they cannot go back out again. One possible use would be a case where you want the cat in at night. You set the pet door for "in only" in the evening.
- Out-Only - When the pet goes out, they cannot come back in again. A possible use for this setting would be a case where you want the pet out during the day. You'd set the flap on "out only" in the morning.
- Locked - This setting allows no entry or exit.
- Open - This setting allows the dog to go in and out freely in both directions.
Q: Is installation of a dog door in a ‘people’ door easy?
A: That highly depends on the type of door, surface material and your handy skills. Please refer to the installation instructions for your specific product in order to help assess the difficulty of the installation. We also provide resources that can help locate an installer for your product.
Q: What are the best ones for extreme weather?
Q: I want a crystal clear flap, which doors can I get?
A: Hale would be a good choice for more severe weather, although if you were looking for something with a little less insulating capability or are on a budget the Ideal Original or the Ideal Deluxe models could work for you.
Q: I want a double flap door that isn't $300 for my large dog, what would you suggest?
Q: What doors can I use for my storm door, its about 1/2" thick?
A: We highly recommend the Patio Pacific Endura Flap for a storm door, as it can frame down to ½” in the single flap version. If insulation isn’t a concern or you need it to go just a bit thinner then we recommend the PetSafe brand in the Freedom or Plastic versions.
Q: Where can I find the size hole that I need to cut in my door for this pet door?
A: When browsing for specific pet doors, there will be a Size Chart tab that will list what we call the rough cut out dimension that is needed to determine the size that needs to be cut in your existing door. The one for the Endura Flap is listed below. However, we really recommend that you hold off on making any cuts in your people door as pretty much all of them will come with instructions and templates to make the installation easier.
Q: Does it matter what material my door is made out of?
A: If the door you have is electronic, then be aware that if the people door is made of metal, it may not function properly and there are special instructions for installation. These type of installations will require a wooden frame between the door and pet door. Other than that, for all other models, the door must be sturdy enough to support the installation of the door.
Q: Are any of these pet doors fire-rated or okay to use on my fire door?
A: No, pet doors are not fire rated, but can be installed into a fire door. Please consult your insurance agency before installing a pet door into a fire door.
Q: Do all pet doors have the option of having double flaps?
Q: What if I want to close the door at night, how can I do that?
A: Most doggie doors (with the exception of kennel use type doors) will come with some way to close it off when not in use. The more common types are the slide in closing covers, such as with the Endura Flap Pet Doors. These ones will slide in from top to bottom. The electronic doors can be programmed to be opened and closed at certain times. A neat feature of the Hale is that they offer a side load option in case there is something above the pet door like a window sill. This way you can actually slide the cover in from the left or the right side. The Plexidor has a keyed lock in the medium, large, and XLarge sizes, and an aluminum cover that you can screw on if you are away for a longer period of time for extra security. The Carlson doors also have a know that you turn to lock up the flap and the separate aluminum cover.
Q: What is the thickest my door can be before I need a wall mount instead?
A: Over 2" is generally what determines whether or not you need a wall mount.
Q: What is a more economy style door if I don't care about insulating that well?
Q: What doors can I get that come in bronze?
Q: I need a really sturdy door for my kennel, what would you recommend?
A: We would recommend the Endura Flap Kennel Door because it avoids the rigid flap issue. However, this flap is not chewproof. The Gun Dog Door is also a good kennel door option with a warranty against chewing. Also many times customers will get one of the guillotine styles to close it off since they don’t really come with covers. This way you have a flap to help seal it up on one sid If this is what you would like to do take a look at Mason Co or Gun Dog for details and sizing.
Q: My dog won't push on a flap do you have a dog door that would work?
Q: What if I get the door and it doesn't work? Can I return it?
A: Yes, returns are usually allowed, with the exception of most custom items. Most doors have a 30 day return policy, while the Endura Flap has a 90 day policy. Also, some manufacturers have restocking fees. For questions it you can give us a call at (800) 826-2871 and press 2 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is a side load option on dog doors?
A: A locking cover that slides in through the side of the frame instead of from the top. This avoids the problem of overhang above the dog door which could interfere with the operation of a locking cover. Like the Hale.
Q: I would like a cat door for indoor use for a litter box going into the closet, doesn't need a flap so what would you recommend?
A: We recommend the Cathole for Interior Wood Doors, which does not have a flap and offers a arch-shaped wood frame.
Q: I don't have a dog, I have a cat. Which door can I use for him?
A: You can use the same generally flexible flap models of smaller dog doors or you can go with the cat doors that have the more rigid or polycarbonate flaps like the Cat-Mate 235 or 221 Large Cat Door.
Q: What do you think is a good simple door for a large cat?
Q: What does it mean to be "self-framing"?
A: A self-framing door means that the pet door has a flange that will go into the cut out in order to cover it up so that you don’t have any of the people doors core exposed. This is one thing that makes installing through a hollow core or foam core door much cleaner.
Q: Why are the Endura Kennel doors different from the regular door mounts?
A: The kennel door is a what you would call a stripped down version of our regular door mount. We don’t include the external trim frame, the installation hardware, template, weather stripping, hole plugs to hide the screw heads, and the locking cover assembly (can be added if desired). These also come in cases of two and some quantity discounts are available.
Q: What is a double flap pet door?
A: A double flap has two flaps, usually one on the inside and a second one on the outside of the house. It’s a great idea for extreme weather conditions, both hot and cold. For the harshest climates we suggest the Endura.
Q: I have a Great Dane and an 8 pound Yorkie. What dog door should I get?
A: Hale offers doors that are great for large and small dogs sharing because the flap is easy to push and giant sized doors are offered. Another option would be to get an electronic dog door so that your 8 pound Yorkie isn't trying to push open a Great Dane sized flap. You want to make sure that you measure both pets to get the size comfortably fits both. You don’t want the step over too high or the flap too low so the big dog is left having to crouch.
Q: Why are the Hale models so expensive?
A: Hale offers quality products in more colors, standard sizes, and options than other manufacturers. You can even get them custom made to fit an opening you already have. As far as aesthetics these doors are a perfect choice for matching well with home decor.
Q: I have a Plexidor Door for my dog, but the lock broke. How do I get a new lock?
A: You can purchase a Plexidor Lock, Cam and Key set to replace the lock.