Pet Doors For use in Walls
Pet Doors to Install in Walls
A wall mount pet door can be a great choice. While installing a pet door in a door effectively ruins the door, a wall mount pet door can often be removed and the wall patched leaving no trace of the dog door or cat door. Stucco exterior and dry-wall interior is the perfect example since both sides can be patched and painted-to-match if the pet door must be removed later.
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Q. What are the advantages of installing a pet door in a wall?
- A. You may have no other convenient locations for your pet door in which case it's handy to know that the wall is an option.
- A pet door in a wall can always accommodate a double flap version of the pet door you want if that is available. The double flap version will always insulate, seal and stand up to wind better than a single flap version of the same brand.
- If you want to remove the pet door at some future date (say you sell the house and the buyer doesn't want the pet door) and you've installed the pet door in a door, then you'll be buying a new door which can be expensive. On the other hand, depending upon the type of construction, a pet door in a wall may be removed and the wall patched inexpensively.
Q. What are the disadvantages of installing a pet door in a wall?
- A. Installation through a wall can be dangerous! If you cut into electrical conduit or pipe you can be injured or even killed. We recommend a licensed contractor for this type of installation.
- If the siding is practically anything other than stucco, it can be difficult or impossible to remove the pet door and patch the wall so that it looks "like new". Brick siding, rock siding, wood or shingle siding and vinyl siding all present problems when removing a pet door from a wall.
- The same consideration is true for the inside wall. Drywall is easy to patch, but wood paneling may not be.
- If the wall is thicker than about 8" (not very common but it happens) the selection of "self-framing" pet doors diminishes greatly. If the wall is thicker than 16" there are no "self-framing" options except for a few cat-sized pet doors.
- Since wall studs are usually 16" on center, a pet door requiring a "rough cut" wider than 14 1/2" will probably not fit between your existing studs. There are ways to solve this problem but, again, only a licensed contractor should attempt them.
Q. What does it mean to "frame out" a wall?
- A. A wall installation pet door must always include a tunnel through the wall. The primary purpose of this tunnel is to ensure that water cannot penetrate to the interior of the wall--a leak into a wall if not quickly caught and repaired would have very serious and expensive consequences. As a secondary issue, the tunnel provides the pet with stable footing.
- There are two ways to accomplish this tunnel. The first and easiest is to purchase a "self-framing" wall mount pet door. This type of pet door will be provided with its own tunnel which is typically adjusted by cutting to fit the depth of the wall.
- The second way is to frame the wall yourself (or have your contractor do it) typically using lumber to build a wood tunnel through the wall. In either case the tunnel is carefully caulked to ensure water-tightness and any wood used is sealed.
- While framing yourself is probably going to involve more work and expense, it does have the advantage of allowing you to use virtually any pet door for your wall installation. That advantage is largely offset by the fact that there is a very good selection of "self-framing" wall through pet doors to choose from.
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When installing a pet door in a wall, the wall must always be 'framed out'. That is, after cutting the hole, the inside of the wall must be sealed off so that moisture cannot penetrate into the interior of the wall. The 'self-framing' pet doors and wall kits listed here will help to do this step for you and make the job much easier.
However, if you can frame the wall yourself, you can choose any pet door for a wall. For example, if you wanted a Pride pet door in your wall, you'd have to frame it yourself as there is no wall kit for that pet door.
All of these pet doors come with a locking cover, or other method of locking the door shut, unless otherwise noted. Be alert to the possibility of an overhang above the pet door which could interfere with the operation of a locking cover. Each brand has notes regarding this point. Hale Pet Door, in particular, may be ordered with a 'side-loading' locking cover which avoids this problem. Other pet doors have 'front loading' locking covers which is also an effective solution.
Important Don't confuse these with self-framing door mounts! The adjustment range for a self-framing wall mount must be much greater than for a door mount.
A second important consideration in a wall mount pet door is whether to have a single flap or a double flap (flap on both sides of the wall). The air-space between the two flaps of a double flap wall mount will insulate much better than a single flap pet door and the double flaps will stand up to wind much better also. Finally, it will look more finished to have the flap on both sides of the wall.
We haven't encountered any additional difficulty for the pets in using a double flap provided that a reasonable flap size is chosen by the customer.
Most of our wall mount sales are for double-flap doors. However, when installing in a moderate climate or in an unheated garage or shed, we'd suggest that a single flap may be adequate.
On the other hand, the Endura Flap based pet doors seal so well that we think a single flap is adequate for all but the most demanding climates.
In choosing the size, keep in mind that your pets will be negotiating a short tunnel. For that reason, we like to see a little more clearance vertically than would be the case for a pet door installed in a door. As always, try to mount the pet door so the top of the flap is at least as tall as the top of the shoulder of the tallest pet (the 'withers').
Vital Notes Regarding Installation of Pet Doors in a Wall
It is imperative to remember that even a self-framing pet door must be properly installed and caulked to ensure that no moisture enters your walls. If you have any doubt regarding your ability to do this, please assign the job to a qualified person.
Likewise, cutting a power line or hitting a pipe with power tools could cause injury or even death. If you are not sure you have the skills to tackle this kind of job, please have a qualified person do it for you.
Generally, you can be confident that a properly licensed and insured contractor will have the necessary skills.