How to Build an Insulated Dog House

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Extreme temperatures can make an outside dog miserable and threaten its life and health. Insulating your dog house is one way to assist your outside dog in staying warm during the winter and cool in the summer without resorting to fossil fuel-dependent heating or cooling systems. It is easiest to insulate your dog house during construction. If you are making a wooden dog house with a studded frame and plywood walls, Styrofoam block makes good insulation, when combined with sheathing the inner walls with plywood, masonite, or sheetrock.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear silicone caulk 24 square feet of rolled roofing or asphalt shingles Power drill, 1/8-inch diameter drill bit Countersink bit Nail gun with supplies Expandable insulating foam Plywood sheeting as follows: Small dog: Four 24-by-36 inch sheets of 1/2-inch plywood One 28-by-40 inch sheet of 3/4-inch plywood for roof Four feet of 2-by-4 inch lumber for roof support Four 2-by-4 inch by 8 feet long boards for framing 18 feet of 1-by-4 inch stock boards for studs Medium dog: Four 3-by-4 feet sheets of 1/2-inch plywood One 3 1/2-by-4 1/2 feet sheet of 3/4-inch plywood Six feet of 2 inch by 4 inch lumber for roof support Six 2 inch by 4 inch by 8 feet long boards for framing 30 feet of 1 inch by 4 inch stock wood for studs Large dog: Four 4-by-6 feet sheets of 3/4-inch plywood One 4 1/2-by-6 1/2 feet sheets of 3/4-inch plywood Eight feet of 2-by-4 inch lumber for roof support Eight 2-by-4 inch by 8 feet long boards for framing 56 feet of 1-by-4 inch stock wood for studs For insulation work inside dog house: Box of finishing nails Rubber mallet Miter box and back saw 1 gallon paint 2 to 3 gallons of clear acrylic Outdoor thermometer Small exhaust fan 4-inch thick, Styrofoam block sheets 4-by-8 feet by 1/2-inch thick sheetrock Joint tape Joint compound 15-inch or larger carving knife 6-inch wide plastic molding, enough to go around the inside perimeter of your dog house Optional: insulated dog door

Building the Dog House

  • Cut eight 2-by-4 inch by 2-foot long boards. Cut four 2-by-4 inch by 3-foot long boards. Use 6-inch long wood screws to assemble two of the 2-foot long boards between two of the 3-foot long boards to make a solid wood frame. Repeat this to make the second wall of the dog house frame.

  • Connect the two frames with four 2-by-4 inch by 2-foot long boards. Use 1-by-4 inch boards cut to fit between the top and bottom boards of the frame to make the wall studs. Place wall studs about 1-foot apart. Use a plumb bob and spirit level to make sure that the frame is square and the top plate of the dog house frame is level. Attach studs to the top and bottom frame plates using a 45-degree angle pilot hole and 6-inch wood screws.

  • Attach ¾-inch thick plywood sheeting, cut to fit the exterior of the dog house frame, to the outside of the dog house using a nail gun.

  • Cut Styrofoam block sheets to fit tightly between the studs of your dog house frame. Use a rubber mallet to tap them into position. Use clear silicone caulk to smooth the joint seams.

  • Cut a length of 2-by-4 inch lumber to fit across the top of the front of the dog house frame. This will be your roof support. Lay the largest plywood sheet on top of the dog house. Attach with a nail gun. Fill any gaps along the roof line with expandable insulating foam or cut Styrofoam pieces to fit. You may also install an insulated pet door for harsh climates.

  • Cut Styrofoam block sheets to fit tightly between the walls of your dog house frame. Use a rubber mallet to tap them into position. Use clear silicone caulk to smooth the joint seams.

Insulating the Dog House

  • Hang 1/2-inch thick sheetrock on the inner walls of your dog house to cover the Styrofoam. Cover all joints with joint tape and coat with joint compound, sanding them smooth after the compound has dried for two hours.

  • Finish the bottom of the walls inside the dog house with 6-inch wide plastic molding to prevent digging into the walls to expose the insulation. Use finishing nails and a rubber mallet to carefully apply plastic molding around the perimeter of the wall inside the dog house. Use a back saw and miter box to cope the molding at joints and seams in the corners. Please read the article on joining seams and corners of crown molding before completing this step if you are not already familiar with the techniques used to install it and other decorative wall trims.

  • Paint your dog house as desired. Apply 2 to 3 coats of clear acrylic wood treatment, drying 24 hours between coats.

  • Check dog house for leaks by using a thin sheet of paper and holding it to all joints and cracks in the dog house frame and walls. Fill any cracks with clear silicone caulk and smooth with a gloved fingertip.

  • Roll roofing or nail shingles in place. The flat, sloped roof will give your dog a place to jump up and look at things. Be sure to place the dog house well away from any pet fence to ensure your dog does not use its house to get out of the yard.

  • Hang a thermometer inside the dog house and check the temperature with and without your dog inside. If the dog house is still too cold, paint the dog house black and move it into a sunnier spot. Be sure the door is turned away from the prevailing winds. Add a cloth or rubber door flap and fill the dog house with straw or other warm, dry bedding material.
    If keeping your dog cool is the issue, install a small exhaust fan in the eaves of your dog house, and cut a vented, triangular window for the fan to draw hot air out of the dog house. If the dog house is in a sunny location, make the fan solar powered. Paint the house white or some other light color and move your dog house into the shade.

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