Cutting a hole through your stucco wall to install a dog door might seem a bit extreme, but when done properly, a through-wall doggie door offers some distinct advantages for you and your pet. The key to success, though, lies in proper installation.
Pros: Dog doors that are installed in a wooden door or as a panel in a sliding glass door limit your choices for locations to allow your pet access into and out of the house. Installing a dog door in a stucco wall allows you more potential locations to choose from, making the door more convenient for you and your dog.
Generally speaking, a through-wall dog door provides more insulation against extreme weather than other types of dog doors. For example, a glass door insert provides virtually no protection from wind, rain or extreme temperatures.
Cons: There are some additional considerations with locating a through-wall pet door in comparison with locating a more traditional dog door. You will need to make sure there are no utilities running through the section of wall where you wish to place the doggie door. If there is electrical wiring or plumbing, you will need to either choose a different location for the door or reroute the utilities.
If you wish to place the dog door beneath a window, keep in mind that there is usually more lumber to cut through and you may need to install a header before installing the door. Any lip from window trim might interfere with the slide-in panel that you would use to seal off the pet door temporarily.
A dog door that installs into a wooden door or slides in as a panel into a sliding door requires minimal effort and skill when it comes to installation. Installing a doggie door into your stucco wall takes a bit more time and skill.
Pros: A through-wall dog door is usually more sturdy. It also is better at keeping dirt, leaves and other debris out of your house.
If you decide to remove the dog door from your wall, patching up drywall and stucco are generally much easier to patch than trying to replace a chunk of wood out of your oak door.
Cons: Unless you buy a self-framing through-wall dog door, you will need to frame out the opening, which creates a short tunnel for your dog to travel through.
Most through-wall doggie doors will fit between your wall studs, simplifying the installation process. If you have a very large dog, though, and need to remove a wall stud for the door to fit, you should install a header in the opening to ensure wall integrity.
You should have a decent working knowledge of power tools and home improvement skills if you are going to install your own through-wall dog door. If not, you should hire a qualified handyman to complete the installation. You should consider dog door installation costs when pricing and choosing a door for your dog.
Many of the tools you need to install a through-wall dog door are the same as those needed to install one into your wood door: a tape measure, pencil, level and a circular saw or reciprocating saw.
If you choose to install a doggie door in your stucco wall, you will need a few more tools: a drywall saw, caulking and a caulk gun, a stud finder, tin snips (to trim the flashing) and an appropriate blade for your circular saw. A diamond blade will cut through the stucco the most cleanly.
The placement of your dog door refers to how it will sit in your wall. It should be placed according to your largest pet, if you have more than one.
Ideally, the top edge of the door opening should sit even with or up to 2 inches higher than the top of your dog's shoulder. If your dog has to duck to go through the door, or crawl through it, those movements could lead to hip or hock pain.
Because your dog will have to travel through a small tunnel in your wall, choose a larger sized door than you would for a wood door or sliding glass door.
Finally, if the floor inside your house is substantially higher than the ground outside the dog door, place a small step or platform outside so your dog doesn't have to jump down as he exits the door. If you have a small dog sharing a doggie door with a large dog, he will especially appreciate this.