'Window' Jim Snyder

About the Instructor

We wanted to provide you, our customers, with a method of installation that would be good for both your pets and your home’s integrity. Most pet door installation techniques do not conform to building best practices or code requirements, and we wanted to solve that problem.

In these instruction videos, nationally-recognized window installation expert Jim Snyder (aka “Window Jim“) demonstrates techniques he developed for properly retrofitting a pet door into an existing exterior wall. While the videos below were created for use with our doors specifically, these principles can be used while installing any brand of pet door. Jim touches on critical steps that are skipped by other pet door installation instructions, such as framing and sill panning. Even if you choose to purchase a different brand of pet door, please consider using these techniques to minimize the risk of damage to your home from poor installation methods.

Jim has over two decades of experience as a professional window installer, and has spent the last ten years of his career consulting with major window manufacturers and doing fenestration research. He is highly credentialed, a member of important industry groups, and regularly contributes to Window and Door Magazine. You can be confident that you are getting the best possible guidance.

Jim is also a pet owner, having both a cat and a dog in his family. Jim’s beagle Paul, is one of the stars of the installation video.

Introduction

These instructions and the accompanying video were created to help you apply standard building practices to installing your pet door. A common scenario – 2 x 4 framing, lap siding, and drywall interior – was chosen for wide applicability. If your house is built with different materials, you may need to slightly adapt some of these techniques.

 

Brick Mold Casing (optional)

Using brick mold casing as exterior trim is optional for the installation of a Freedom Pet Pass pet door. In some cases, it can help integrate the pet door into the weather barrier system. Some people view adding brick mold casing as an aesthetic improvement, but this is obviously subjective.

Brick mold casing is not included with the pet door, but it is widely available at home improvement stores for relatively low cost.

If you decide that you want to use brick mold casing for your installation, we provide step-by-step instructions for making and implementing it. If you choose not to use the brick mold casing, there will be some sections of the installation that you will have to slightly alter from what is demonstrated on the video.

Click the button below for detailed, step-by-step instructions for creating your own brick mold casing:

 

BMC Instructions

Choose Installation Location

The installation location for a wall-mounted pet door should be chosen with care. Take all necessary precautions to avoid or safely work around electrical, plumbing, and gas lines. If you are unsure about how to handle possible in-wall hazards, contact a licensed professional.

Determine the height of the installation. Measure your tallest pet at the withers (shoulders), add three inches (76 mm) to that height, and record on the template. This is the minimum height of your rough opening from the floor.

Using a stud finder, locate the approximate stud positions. Ensure width of studs will accommodate width of pet door.

Create Interior Rough Opening

Choose one stud against which your pet door will be positioned and begin to open the wall. This is most safely accomplished by using a small scrap of 2×4 wood material and hammer. Start near the edge of the stud and slowly make a small opening to verify the stud location.

Once you have verified the stud location, position template against the wall with one edge against the exposed stud and the top at the height measurement (your pet’s height at the withers + 3 inches). Ensure the template is straight and level, and trace around the rough opening hole template.

Gradually open the wall with the wood scrap until you can verify the lack of hazards behind the wall. From there, cut the rough opening with a drywall saw.

Remove insulation and clean the rough opening for the next steps.

Take Measurements for Blocking Material

Using the template, take measurements for the needed blocking (components of the rough opening framing). Some of these measurements are predetermined by the pet door, others will need to be measured for your specific opening.

Cut the blocking, preferably using a chop saw, miter saw, or table saw.

 

Frame Rough Opening

Mark the location of the trimmer on the header and the sill. Make sure the marks are visible when installing these components.

Install the blocking components, fastening in place with appropriate screws:

  1. Install the sill risers and the sill.
  2. Install the cleats and header.
  3. Install the trimmer filler(s) and trimmer if needed.

Finish any remaining drywall cuts, using the framing as a guide.

Cut Exterior Opening

Using a reciprocating saw, multi-tool, or other tool of choice, cut a hole in the exterior wall using the framed rough opening as a guide.

Cut Back Siding (optional)

If you are using the optional brick mold casing, it is recommended that you cut an additional ~2 ⅛’’ of the siding only (not sheathing or weather barrier) to accommodate the brick mold casing and incorporate the pet door installation into the weather barrier.

Prepare Rough Opening

Using a sill pan is highly recommended and may be required by your local building code. If you choose to use a sill pan, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation of the sill pan and incorporation into the weather barrier.

Insert and Attach Door

Insert the door into the rough opening. The pet door should be shimmed as appropriate for a sturdy, level, and square installation

The pet door must be attached to the rough opening through the side jambs and head jamb to accommodate the force of pets passing through it. Decorative screws are provided for this purpose, although alternate fasteners can be used at the installer’s discretion. Use sufficient anchorage fasteners to satisfy regional structural requirements.

The four shorter screws are intended to screw through the side jambs, two on each side at least 2’’ (50 mm) from the top and bottom to avoid the screws used in the assembly of the product. The two longer screws are intended to attach the head jamb to the rough frame. To prevent damage to sill pan, do not anchor through bottom sill.

If the optional brick mold casing is used, screws may be driven through the brick mold casing into the framed opening for additional strength and installation convenience.

Seal Interior and Exterior

From the interior, insulate the perimeter between the pet door frame and the rough opening on both sides and head jamb only with low-expansion foam designed for this purpose. Do not do this under the bottom jamb. This needs to be left open for drainage of incidental water.

After expansion is complete, remove excess. Seal all four sides at interior-most edge of pet door (including the bottom) with backer rod and a sufficient bead of sealant designed for this purpose.

From the exterior, seal between the pet door (or the optional brick mold casing) and the siding material with an appropriate weather-resistant sealant. This should be done on all four sides.

Trim

If the optional brick mold casing was not used, trim the exterior as appropriate for your exterior wall covering.

Dress the wall cavity as appropriate. This can be accomplished with the optional jamb extension kit or with materials available on-site. Drywall returns are common, as are jamb extensions made from stained or painted wood. Cellular PVC (such as Azek brand), laminate (such as Formica brand), and tile are more exotic materials that some customers have used successfully to dress the wall cavity.

In the video, Jim demonstrates a way to make your own return box out of primed pine trim boards.

Wrap Up

Your installation is completed! You should take some time to ensure that the level on the outside of the pet door is very similar to that of your floor level. Often, ground level can be substantially lower than floor level. This can be remedied with simple steps or a ramp.