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I basically have the following type of back door:

enter image description here

The problem is that my girlfriend moved in with me. Well not, really, her dog did and we need to install a pet door. The problem is I need the first row of glass to be made of wood in order to be able to install the door in.

I thought of replacing the bottom row of glass with wood panels, then once they set, cutting into them to fit in the door.

What kind of wood should I use to make sure that it is weather proof. Assuming this isn't a dumb idea.

  • I have this same door inside for an office door, I wanted to remove the wood trims inside the door on the glass, is that possible? I have googled but have not been able to find an answer – Jess Michelle Oct 27 '18 at 20:18
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The idea of removing the glass and replacing with wood is reasonably practical. Since the glass is relatively thin you would need to replace with a relatively thin wood piece. I would think that 1/4" or maybe 3/8" thick plywood would be able to be used in place of the glass. There are a number of things to consider though before embarking on this approach.

First consider if the doggy door assembly would fit in the place of a single lower pane of the door. If so then replacement of one glass panel would be practical.

If the doggy door is larger than one pane then you need to take a careful look at the construction of the door. Is the wood pictured in the yellow oval below a single piece of wood?

enter image description here

If the above is the case then you have a reasonable strategy. If on the other hand the cross piece is three separate pieces of wood as shown below:

enter image description here

Then you should abandon the idea all together. This evaluation would apply equally to whether you needed to remove the lower three panes or the six lower panes. The choice between these depends entirely on the height of the doggie door assembly. If it is higher than a single pane then move the analysis up to the second cross piece of the door windows.

The crux of the above analysis is that if in removing glass panes and the dividers between the panes you end up having to cut off the vertical divider strips then you should stop with this idea all together. Cutting off the vertical dividers at the first or second cross piece would severely compromise the integrity if the rest of the windowed portion of the door.

If you get past the above consideration then it should be possible to remove the glass panes by first removing wood stop pieces that are tacked or stapled into the door frame that hold each pane in place. (Most likely these are on the inside of the door). Then remove the short divider pieces that are necessary to make the opening large enough to inset your plywood piece. The concept for installing the plywood would be to insert it into the frame opening in much the same way that the glass panes were installed. A small replacement molding would be installed as a stop to hold the plywood in place. Make sure to cut the plywood so it is a close fit to the opening size. I would also suggest to pre-finish the plywood piece before installation to a finish that is similar to the existing door. If the door is painted then allow for some size on the plywood panel because you want the edges of the plywood to be painted too and that adds some to the length and width of the plywood panel.

Some other things to consider...

  1. Do not cut into the lower style of the door (The full thickness bottom cross piece). It would compromise the door too much. It would also be incompatible with the surface of the installed plywood panel as doggy doors want to be installed into fully flat surfaces.
  2. Make sure the dog is tall enough so that it can easily step through a doggy door that is raised up by the height of the lower style of the door.
  3. Select the doggy door carefully. Most of these doors are designed to be installed in something thicker than a thin panel of plywood. There are doors designed to be installed into the lower panel of aluminum combination storm doors so they are available. But in the case that you end up with a flapper door that requires a thicker install surface you may need to band the opening you cut into the plywood with a frame of boards to provide the necessary thickness.
  4. When planning the project be aware that the doggy door assembly will require a flat install surface that is larger in height and width than the actual dog opening. This can vary from less than an inch on each side, top and bottom to up to 2 inches depending upon the design of the door assembly.
  5. You may very well want to consider installing a doggy door into the fixed wall next to the back door instead of going through the back door. If you do take that approach make sure that there are no electrical wires or permanent studs in the wall cavity that you decide to cut into (before you start cutting).
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I would suggest a quick visit to any building supply recycling type place near you to see if you can simply grab an inexpensive replacement door that's already better suited to installing a pet-door in - you may have structural issues with this door if you cut away a significant part of the bottom to insert a pet door. Replacing glass panels with wood is not the same (structurally) as a solid wood door (or door with glass on top and a solid wood bottom.)

Even if you have to buy it new, it would be a lot less work and more dependable to use a different door here.

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