In and Out: How to Install a Doggie Door in a Metal Door

Just because you have a metal entry door, doesn’t mean you can’t install a pet door. With the right tools and some patience, your dog or cat can go in and out on their own.

Related To:

Tools and Materials

  • screwdriver
  • hammer
  • measuring tape
  • straight edge or yardstick
  • painter's tape
  • jigsaw with metal cutting blades
  • variable speed drill and drill bits
  • automatic center punch
  • four small hand clamps

Measure Your Pet’s Shoulder Height

You’re going to need to position the pet door so that it’s easy for your pet to enter and exit freely. In order to do that, measure your friend to their upper shoulder area and make note of the measurement. This is usually easier to accomplish with a handful of treats and a little extra love.

Remove Door and Place on Sawhorses

With the door closed, use a hammer and a small screwdriver to remove the door pins that hold the two halves of the hinges together. Start with the bottom pin, and work your way to the top. Once you’ve removed all three pins, carefully open the door and lift it off the hinges. If your door is heavy, have a friend positioned on the outside of the door to assist you. Lay the door flat on a set of sturdy sawhorses. Position the door so that the location of your pet door is clear of the sawhorses and the interior side is facing up.

Layout the New Opening

Every brand of pet door is a little different. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve chosen one that’s correct for your application (and your pet) and always follow the manufacturer's installation instructions. Our example is an insulated, exterior facing, steel door. Generally, you'll want your pet’s door to be at least three inches from the floor at a minimum, and centered in the middle of the door. Your particular door will have a recommendation for where the shoulder height should be in relation to the bottom of the door. Following your door’s instructions, use a pencil and a straight edge to lay out all of the cut lines on the door. Always double, even triple, check your measurements. Once you start cutting any door, there’s no turning back. So, make sure you’re accurate and take your time.

Center Punch and Drill Holes in the Corners

Using your automatic center punch, press firmly in each corner to produce a small dent about 1/4” inward from the guideline. This will keep your drill bit from “wandering” as you try to drill through the steel. Once you’ve put a dent in each corner, place the point of your drill in a dent and begin to slowly drill. You want to go straight down and all the way through the door, placing one hole in each corner.

Tape Off the Perimeter and Saw Glide

After you’ve drilled your corner holes, it’s a good idea to protect the door before cutting. Use painter's tape around the outside of the guidelines, and make sure to tape off the bottom of your jigsaw. This will guard against scratching the surface of your door. Use two layers if your door’s surface seems more susceptible to scratching.

Choose the Right Blade and Cut Your Opening

Metal cutting blades are drastically different from those used to cut wood. They have more teeth, that are smaller and closer together, much like a hacksaw. They also operate at slower speeds, so make sure to adjust the speed on your saw to your blade’s recommended settings. Select a metal cutting blade long enough to cut through both sides of the door at once. Insert the blade into one of the corner holes you drilled, and cut along the outside of the line toward the next hole. The holes give you enough room at each corner to turn the saw and make your next cut. Continue this process until you’ve completely cut the opening.

Test Fit Frame Mark Screw Holes

You’ll want to test fit the frame for your pet door to ensure that it fits from both sides of the door. It’s a good idea to test the fit with the cover and any other accessories attached. Then, using a pencil, mark the holes in the frame for the fasteners.

Center Punch and Drill (Again)

Once again, use your center punch to drive small dents onto the marks for the fasteners. Use the recommended size drill bit and slowly drill through the door. It is not necessary to drill metal at high speeds, just make sure to apply pressure and take your time.

Clamp Inner and Outer Frames Together... Assemble!

Now you’re ready to assemble both sides of your pet door. Using four clamps, hold the two halves of the pet door together and insert your fasteners to secure both halves together.

Hang the Door, Get Some Treats and Have Fun

Re-hang your door by aligning the hinges and re-inserting the door pins. Once you’ve secured the door, it’s time to train your friend to use theirs! Get a handful of treats and call your pet from either side of the door until they’ve gotten used to walking in and out.

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