install a dog door in the wall (day one)

i learned a lot of things today. the most exciting thing being how to use a reciprocating saw. dad you’d be proud. i bought a skil saw. we went to home depot to pick up a pet door for the boxer max and the terrier sam. apparently the thing that little boys are supposed to do while their mother antagonizes over plastic flaps and large vs/ extra large is to slap and slam every dog door on display very loudly and squeal and giggle with delight. one torn and irreperable green flip flop later, we were at target sizing flip flops. after having looked at the cute diagrams illustrating what tools were needed for Dog Door Installation, i was now also in the market for a saw as i never took the chance to borrow one. so we stopped at lowe’s across the street and checked out all sorts of saws. which are cool but scary and intimidating to someone inexperienced such as myself. at first all i saw were cordless tools with batteries not included. i know not having to fight with a cord makes the project go that much more smoothly, but isn’t that part of the process?
after loading up the cart with two tubes of silicone caulk, one dog door, one wall kit in case the wall was too thick to allow the indoor and outdoor frames to fit together, and one reciprocating saw, we checked out and sped off to jump the gun on the dog door project. after lunch. I set the boys up with a movie and tore into the dog door box.

first off, this door is huge. i thought my dog was big, and “boxer” is listed in the breed list on the box. fair. but i feel like maybe a pony would be able to get at least some of its body through the Gateway to the Backyard. so, dog door out, its shiny, the plastic flap is fresh and clear. i took the instructions out. i’ve watched videos online before about installing a dog door in the wall. and its always a white man in his 40s with a moustache and a toolbelt whipping this project together in a 3:27 video. cool. i can do this.


use a level to ensure it's straight

tape the template to the wall. so you can use both hands to flatten it out and draw around it. trace around the inside of the template so when you cut, the hole will match the measurement of the door. also trace the drill holes provided in the template. this is where the bolts will go through the wall to grab the other half of the dog door. remove the template and drill the holes you traced. also make drill holes at the corners of the template you drew on the wall. this will help keep you from overshooting the end of the line when you’re in the heat of the moment with the saw. so far, in my personal project, things went to plan.


me pulling insulation out whoa

i then began to cut the hole out with a power saw while the kids were outside. note to self: next time, wear safety goggles from the getgo and a mask to prevent inhaling all the fine dust that flies out of drywall. also be sure you read all instructions carefully. i cut the hole in the wall. one of the wildest things i’ve ever done in my life?! yes. cut a hole in the wall of your new home?? yes. it had to be done. ao i cut a hole in the drywall and pulled it out. next i pulled the pink drywall out in sheets, trying to keep it in the same shape it was in in the wall.


why, wire, why?

next, it was time to extend the drill holes all the way through to the exterior wall so that the template could be retaped and redrawn on the other side of the wall. i went to make sure there were no wires anywhere and sure enough, at the top of the hole, narrowly missed, was electrical wiring for the wall! of course a huge problem for someone who didnt know that there is such thing as a voltage detector that can tell you where not to cut holes in your wall with a power saw. so the hole was moved down by two inches.
we made a trip to home depot where we picked up a nice long 3/8″ bit and a pair of safety glasses. as we tried to drill to the exterior wall though, we began to hear weird sounds coming from the wall and not much progress being made with the drill bit.
after doing a little research on drilling into concrete walls, we learned that normally a hammer drill is used, as it can both provide the impact of a hammer to penetrate the hard surface and it can also drill away at it and remove the debris so you make a little progress with it. the following day after work, i made a trip to home depot to check out renting a hammer drill and bumped into an employee. i told him what we were experiencing with the wall and he told me that a lot of homes that are stucco actually have a metal or steel frame on the outside and usually need a bit for drilling through metal. he also gave me a few pointers on how to successfully drill through it.
i confidently drove home after purchasing a long bit for my project, changed clothes, kicked the kids out, fitted the bit to the drill, and i’ll be damned the motor was dead in the drill.


About Renee

Native to Tucson and a mother of two! Been practicing yoga for over 8 years and making art and calligraphy pieces for most of my life. I want to help people learn to communicate with themselves and others. View all posts by Renee

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