Pet Doors For In a Screen
Pet Doors to Install In Window Screens, Sliding Screens, Screen Doors & Porch Screen Enclosures
Most of the dog doors and cat doors offered in this section are designed for installation through a screen. Could be a window screen, sliding screen door or the screen in a screened in porch. The other type is the 'instant' or 'hanging' screen door which may be installed in any doorway whether regular door, sliding door or French door.
For the through screen approach you have two major choices:
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Q. What are the different types of through-screen installations?
A. There are two approaches to installing a pet door through a screen:
- Some pet doors are designed to clamp onto the screen itself. These are very simple to install requiring only a sharp knife, a flat surface (like the kitchen floor) and a hammer. Also they are quite inexpensive.
- Others are designed to fasten with sheet metal screws onto the screen framing in a lower corner. These require more expertise to install (you might even want to have a screen shop do this for you) and cost significantly more. However, they are also much more sturdy and come in a wider variety of sizes.
- Note that the hanging screens for a doorway are covered in this section as well.
Q. Does the type of screen that I have matter?
A. If you intend to use the type that fastens to the screen framing then the screen type doesn't matter.
However, if you have light-weight fiberglass screen, then the clamp-on type may not have enough support. Metal screen would be much better.
Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of installing a pet door in a screen?
- Cost. Particularly the clamp-on style are very inexpensive and easily installed.
- If you have nowhere else to put your pet door then it's nice to know that you can use a pet door through the screen of a window, door or porch.
- Obviously, you let the weather in with the pet. This might not matter for a screened-in porch but it could be very undesirable for a living area during bad weather.
- If you lock the pet in or out you may find that the pet scratches the screen in frustration trying to use the pet door.
- With the clamp-on style the pet door is not nearly so well supported as is the frame mount style. Hopefully, you have a sedate pet. If you don't, then an active dog may take the pet door out into the back yard as he goes through even though the pet door may be large enough for the dog. It's cheaper in the long run to be sure the door you choose is sturdy enough for the pet.
Q. Will the screen in the pet door match my screen?
A. Some screen mount pet doors come with their own screening and are not likely to match your screen exactly. Others allow you to use the screen that you cut out in the flap are, so, are a perfect match.
Q. What if my screen is already torn out by my pet?
A. The clamp-on type is unlikely to work because you won't have screen to clamp onto on two sides. You'll need to go to the screen shop for re-screening, then install the pet door.
If you're planning to use the type that fastens to the screen frame then, so long as the pet door frame is larger than the torn out portion you'll very likely to be able to do the install with the screen "as is". This, of course, implies that you have the skill to re-spline the screen to the pet door--a job that isn't particularly easy. You might need to make a trip to the screen shop anyway just to make sure you get a good result.
Q. I'm getting the sturdy type that fastens to the screen framing. Does the thickness of the screen framing matter?
A. Yes it does. This type of pet door expects the screen frame to be no thicker than 1/2". If your frame is thinner, no worries unless it's thinner than 3/8". Then it might not be strong enough to support a larger dog door. If it is thicker than 1/2", then the pet door frame must be modified. We indicate if the manufacturer will do this for you or you may do-it-yourself with a table saw and metal-cutting blade.
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First, there are several pet doors on the market that install directly through the screen and rely upon the screen itself for support on all four sides. These come in a variety of sizes and are most suitable for smaller and less active pets like cats though some may be sized for large dogs.
For larger or more active pets we recommend something more sturdy. Choose a brand that allows the pet door frame to be fastened to the screen frame with sheet metal screws down one side and across the bottom. Then the screen is re-splined to a special groove in the other two sides.
Important note regarding the snap-in style: We've gotten some complaints from people with heavy wire screening that they can't install them because the screen is too stiff to force into the groove provided by the pet door. If you have that type of screening, we'd suggest getting the “Sturdy Mount” types. Also, we worry about the very, very light fiberglass screening. It may not be strong enough to support the snap-in types even with gentle use.