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Installing a Dog Door in a Metal Door? A DIY Guide

Don’t let a metal door stop you from giving your pet the freedom of a pet door. Without a doggie door,  your dog can't indulge in canine pleasures like chasing the neighborhood cats, running with their dog buddies, and digging up bones.

Clearly, the best solution is a door with a dog door insert. But what type of door can you even install a pet door into? There have been plenty of flaps installed in screen doors, patio doors, panel doors, and sliding glass doors. What about your metal exterior door? Can you even install a pet door frame in a metal door? 

Yes, you can!

Compared to wooden doors, metal ones might seem like a much harder project. Cutting a metal door might be scary, but with the right tools and confidence, you can do it. Following this guide, your door will look just as good as a wooden door installation. You can even get the same weather stripping a wood dog door installation would have, ensuring that you're getting the most energy-efficient option for your home. 

Whether it's adding a cat door or giving your pet their own entrance on the garage door, it's one home improvement project that your furry friend will love.

The Prep: What Do You Need Before You Start Installing?

Here are a few pre-installation steps you need to get through before you start the actual work.

1. Measure Your Pet

Every shopper knows that getting the right size is important. Be it a dress or a piece of furniture. Similarly, you can’t purchase a pet door before measuring your dog.

dog chart for knowing how to cut pet door into metal doors and installing a dog door in a metal door correctly

Skipping this crucial step could have some consequences. Your dog could get stuck in a door frame that's too small for them. Or a smaller pet would find it hard to push through a big door.

 

Hence, it's best to take accurate measurements beforehand. You can do this by measuring your dog’s height from feet to shoulders. Next, measure their width to see how wide the door’s opening should be. Take into account your doggie’s growth while recording the numbers 

Pro-tip: To ensure that the calculations are accurate, it won’t hurt to measure your dog more than once. You can also follow this measurement guide to help you further.

2. The Checklist

Do you know how many types of pet doors are available in the market? Tons of them!

First, there are basic doors that are frame-less, single-flapped, and double-flapped. Then there is our favorite: the self-framed door. (It makes a DIY-maker's life a lot easier!) With a vast variety like this, you might find it difficult to pick a door.

To help you out, we made a list of questions you can ask yourself in order to make a sound purchase:

    • Can this pet door be installed into a metal door?
    • Is it the right size? The right thickness?
    • Is it durable?
    • Will it blow my budget?

    3. Hands-On

    Installing dog doors requires tools, and it’s practical to round up all the materials you need before you start working. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time locating your missing tools with a half-done door. And with your inquisitive dog on the loose and a door that needs caulking, it is a recipe for disaster. 

    What will you need?

    • Pet Door Kit
    • Timber (for the frame)
    • Marker
    • Jigsaw/Metal cutting blade
    • Power drill
    • Drill bits
    • Hammer
    • Filer
    • Screws
    • Screwdriver
    • Set Square
    • Tape measure

    Got all you need? Let’s begin!

    The DIY Guide: How to Install a Dog Door in a Metal Door

    Step-1: Unhinge

    Firstly, you will have to take the metal door off its hinges so that it is safer to work on. Additionally, it prevents you from working at an awkward angle as you mark and cut the door or try to adjust the pet door installation.

    How do you unhinge your door? The most secure way is to uncap the cover present on the pins. Then lightly nudge all the pins out of each of the hinges fixed on the door.

    Step-2: The Markings

    We suggest that you trace an outline on the metal door, following templates or measurements provided with your pet door's installation instructions.

    Most pet doors come with instructions and templates for the door. Just in case yours didn’t, you will have to measure the door and also deduce the distance you wish to keep between the bottom of the door and the flap.

    Pro tip: Use set squares to draw even edges on your pattern.

    Step-3: The Cutting-Edge

    Next, use your power drill to create holes on the four corners of the pattern. The drilled holes should be big enough to fit the blade of your heavy-duty jigsaw. A dog door for metal doors might be the same for wooden ones, but your jigsaw blade should not! Make sure it is a metal-cutting blade.

    Next, use your jigsaw to cautiously cut through the outline. Go slow and steady to prevent snapping your blade or creating jagged ends. The secret is to move from one corner-hole to another, starting from the bottom left.

    Pro tip: Use a hammer to push out the portion you cut through. A few taps in the middle should do the trick!

    Step-4: Fine Finishing

    Does the hole look untidy? Cutting a hole in a metal door can leave metal burrs and shards on the edges. Take a file or a deburring tool to get rid of these before they cut you. Even if you don’t see anything, it may be better to file off the edges before you fix your pet door.

    Why? Smooth edges make the installation easier. Plus, jagged edges can cut your dog when they use the door.

    Step-5: Attachment

    I. Installing a Self-Framed Door

    Self-framed doors are hassle-free options for doggy doors because you don’t have to make frames for them. After you clean off the metal edges, you can immediately move on to the installation phase.

    Follow the instructions below:

    1. Attach both sides of the door inside the holes.
    2. Fasten it with the screws that came with the kit.

    Pro tip: Make sure your installed door doesn’t rattle. You don’t want the door to fall off once the main door is hinged back on.

    II. Installing a Frame-less Door

    Before fitting your frame-less doors, you will have to build your own outer frame.

    Follow the instructions below:

    1. Measure the interior dimensions of the hole you have cut.
    2. According to the measurements, cut 4 pieces of timber.
    3. Using a screw as your support, glue the timber pieces into the frame of the holes.
    4. Clamp the structure to dry the glue.
    5. Once dried, remove the screws.
    6. Attach the door according to the manual.

    The Final Phase

    After you have installed the door, you’ll have to rehinge your main door with its new upgrade. Once that is done, get ready to train your dog to go through their customized entrance from one side of the door to the other. 

    Installing a dog flap into your metal door is a DIY project for the weekend, but your dog's delighted barks at their newfound freedom will be worth the effort.

    Dog excited to use their new outside metal dog door

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