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If you own a dog, you’ll want to build a dog house. You could hammer a few boards together to create four walls and a roof. Put in some effort and imagination and you’ll know how to build a dog house that shelters your best friend in all kinds of weather.
This guide will take you through the step-by-step process of building a DIY dog house with a porch for your pet to enjoy the outdoors.
- Before You Build
- Tools and Materials
- Cut List
- Build the Base
- Construct the Walls
- Stand Up the Walls
- Ridge and Rafters
- Create the Siding
- Cut and Install the Siding on the Sides
- Cut and Install Siding on the Back
- Install Siding on the Front
- The Roof Structure
- Roof Covering
- Trim and Paint
- Insulating Your DIY Dog House
Before You Build
This house can be insulated for use in colder climates. The cavity can be filled with fiberglass batts, just like your house, or with rigid foam. In either case, it is best to cover the interior with a layer of thin plywood if adding insulation.
If not insulating, the walls can be left open on the inside.
This project will be shown with plastic roofing. It can be covered with shingles to match your house. If using shingles, choose 3/4” nails so they will not protrude through the roof.
New pressure treated lumber (manufactured after 2003) is considered by many to be safe for pets, but many people aren’t comfortable using it. The only treated lumber in this project is the 2x4 base that will be touching the ground. Cedar is naturally rot resistant. The plywood in the floor will be protected by the wood around it and we’ll protect the plywood in the roof by sealing the edges with exterior wood filler and paint.
Throughout this guide, pre-drill countersunk pilot holes to prevent splitting the wood. This is necessary because many of the screws will be running into end grain close to the edge of the board. Even self-drilling screws will split wood in this situation.
Tools and Materials
Tools you'll need:
- Circular saw
- Miter saw (optional)
- Drill with countersinking pilot hole bit
- Driver with bits for screws
- Router with 3/8” rabbeting bit and guide bearing
- 15 gauge power nailer (optional)
- Hand saw
- Rafter square
- Tape measure
- Putty knife
- Flat work surface with the ability to clamp
Materials you'll need:
- One 4x8 sheet of 3/4” plywood
- Two 2x4x8 pressure treated lumber
- Eight 2x3x8 framing lumber
- One 1x3x8 cedar board
- Five 1x8x8 cedar boards
- One 26” wide by 8’ long plastic roofing panel
- Six plastic roofing closure strips
- One plastic roofing ridge cap
- One small container galvanized or stainless steel 1” roofing screws
- Two pounds 3” exterior screws
- One pound 3-1/2” exterior screws, rated for treated wood
- One pound 1-1/2” exterior screws, rated for treated wood
- Galvanized or stainless steel 4d nails or 2” 15 gauge nails for nailer
- Exterior grade wood filler
- One quart exterior paint
- Painter’s tape
- One 23x26”
- One 22x35”
- One 22-3/4”x35”
Pressure treated 2x4:
- Two 26” long
- Three 20” long
- One 35” long
- Four 26” long
- Three 18” long
- Thirteen 15” long
- Two 11” long
- Six 15-1/2” long, with opposite 45 degree angles on each end
- Two 4” long
This will be the siding and we’ll be routing a rabbet on the edges. This is easier to do with the boards full length. We’ll go into more detail when we get to that step, so hold off on cutting these until later.
- Six 26” long
- Seven 24-1/2” long
Build the Base
Apply exterior paint one side and all edges of the 23x26” piece plywood and allow to dry. None of this paint will be seen, it is there to protect the plywood from moisture.
Since the dog house will be outdoors, the base will be constructed of pressure treated wood.
Sit two 2x4x26 parallel to each other, on edge. Place the three 2x4x20 pieces, on edge, between them. The outer two should form 90 degree corners and the third should cross in the center.
Assure that all corners are square and edges are flush as you go along, fastening with 3-1/2” screws.
Lay the 23x26 piece of plywood on top of the base, painted side down, and make all edges flush. Fasten it with 1-1/4” screws at each corner and in the center of each edge. If you’re thinking this isn’t sufficient, you’re right. The real holding power comes in a later step when the walls are screwed down.
Construct the Walls
In similar fashion to the base, construct a side wall by laying two of the 2x3x26” pieces parallel to each other, on edge. Place three 2x3x15” pieces between them, at the ends and one in the center, and fasten with two 3” screws in each joint. Repeat this process to create the other side wall.
Build the rear wall using two 2x3x18” pieces, one 11” piece, and three 2x3x15” pieces.
- Lay one 18” piece on the work surface, on its edge.
- Measure and mark the center, at 9”
- Lay one 11” piece on the work surface, on edge, and align the center of one end with the center mark on the edge of the 18” piece, at a 90 degree angle. Attach with two 3” screws.
- Place another 18” piece on edge, parallel with the first one, opposite the piece that was just attached.
- Place three 15” pieces between them, with the outermost pieces on edge, but the center piece on its face.
- Use 3” screws to fasten the outermost 15” pieces at the ends of the 18” pieces.
- To attach the center piece, from the top, use two 3” screws and angle them slightly inward.
The front wall is different, as it has the door opening in it.
- Begin by attaching the remaining 11” piece to the remaining 18” piece with 3” screws
Attach a 15” piece to each end of the two 4” pieces, with 3” screws
Mark a line 4” from each end of the 18” piece.
Attach the 4” and 15” assemblies to each end of the 18” piece, using the 4” mark as a guide.
Stand Up the Walls
- Stand one of the 26” long walls on one 26” side of the base.
- Ensure that all edges are flush, and attach to the base with four 3-1/2” screws.
- Repeat with the other 26” wall.
- Place the rear wall at one end, ensure that all edges along the base are flush, and attach with two 3-1/2” screws.
- Place the front wall at the other end, ensuring that the edges are flush, and attach with two 3-1/2” screws.
- Go to a corner where two walls meet at the top, ensure the outer edges are flush, and secure with one 3-1/2” screw.
- Fasten with another 3-1/2” screw about halfway down.
- Repeat with the remaining three corners.
Ridge and Rafters
- Lay the 2x3x35” piece across the highest point – the top of the 10-3/4 uprights from the front and rear walls.
- This is the ridge beam, it should be standing on edge.
- Let 3 inches protrude from the back wall and the 6 inches from the front wall.
- Drill two holes through the ridge beam and into the uprights with the pilot hole bit, but push the countersink as far in as possible.
- Fasten the ridge beam to the uprights with 3-1/2” screws.
- Pick a corner to start installing 15-1/2” angle-ended rafters. The top corner should be flush with the top of the ridge beam, and the bottom corner should protrude 1/2” or less from the side wall.
- Once it’s aligned properly, attach with two three inch screws on both ends.
- Repeat on each corner.
- Mark the center point on the ridge beam and on each side wall.
- Install the remaining rafters in these two places.
Create the Siding
We’re going to create our own custom shiplap siding. Once you see how easy it is, you’ll be making shiplap for everything! We’ll be using the 1x8x8 cedar boards. These usually have one smooth face and one rough face. Decide which one you prefer to be the show or “front” face. You can consult with your dog but don’t expect a solid answer, dogs are indecisive when it comes to things like this. Rover will likely be happy if you’re happy, that’s why people love dogs.
- Disconnect your router from its power source.
- Attach a 3/8” rabbet bit with guide bearing.
- Adjust the bit until it protrudes from the base by 3/8” and tighten the collet nut securely.
- The guide bearing will help you maintain the depth of cut. Your part is to move the router while keeping the base flat against the face of the board and keeping the guide bearing against the edge.
- As you go, note that the guide bearing will dip into any voids in the edge. Take care to not let the router follow those dips and cut too deep.
- Cut a 26” piece from one board.
- Secure the board with clamps.
- On the first board, and the 26” piece, rout all the way down one edge, on the front face of the board
- On the next board, rout all the way down one edge, on the back face of the board
- These three pieces will be the top and bottom
- On the remaining boards, and the remaining 70” piece, rout down one edge on the front face and the other edge on the back face.
Cut and Install the Siding on the Sides
When installing shiplap boards, pay attention to the weather.
If it’s hot and humid, don’t leave a gap. If it’s cold and dry, use a nickel on each end as spacers. This is where the term “nickel gap shiplap” originated. Wood expands a little across its width in warm, humid, weather. If it’s dry and you don’t leave a gap, the siding will buckle in the summer. If it’s humid and you leave a gap, that gap will get too big in the winter.
Also, siding is usually installed by starting at the bottom and working your way up the wall. We’ll do that on the front and back, but on the sides this process will be reversed because we have a couple of inches of overhang at the bottom. The siding won’t go all the way to the ground, it just has to cover the plywood floor edges and extend down over part of the treated base.
- Cut two pieces with the solid edge and the rabbet on the back face to 26” long.
- Cut two pieces with both edges rabbeted to 26”long.
- Cut two pieces with the solid edge and the front face rabbeted to 26” long.
- Start 3/4” from the top of each side wall, with the solid edge up.
- Make the ends flush with the front and back of the dog house frame.
- Fasten by driving two 4d nails through the face of the siding into each stud.
- Fit the next piece with the lap joining under the lap on the previous piece and nail as before
- The bottom piece, with the rabbet on the back face and the solid edge at the bottom goes on next, in the same manner.
- Repeat the process on the other side.
Cut and Install Siding on the Back
As we said in the last step, start at the bottom on the back and front walls.
- Cut a piece with a solid edge and a rabbet on the front face to 24-1/2” long.
- Align the bottom edge of this piece with the bottom edges of the siding on the side walls.
- Make sure all edges are flush and attach with two 4d nails into each stud, as before.
- Cut two pieces with rabbets on both faces to 24-1/2” long and affix the first piece to the house, as before, with the rabbets interlocking to form a shiplap.
- Before nailing the second piece, hold it in place and mark lines where the corners protrude above the rafters. Cut along these lines, then nail the piece of siding in place.
- Measure across the top of the last piece of siding and cut a piece with two rabbets to this length (should be about 18-1/2” long.)
- Hold this piece in place, mark, cut the corners as before, then nail in place.
- Measure from the top edge of the rabbet to the bottom of the ridge beam.
- Also, measure the width of the top of this piece.
- Cut a piece of siding to fit across the top, then cut to fit in the space between the top piece of siding and the ridge beam.
- Hold the top piece in place, mark the corners, cut, and nail in place.
Install Siding on the Front
The front procedure is similar to the back, but it also involves cutting in the door.
- Cut a piece with a solid edge and a rabbet on the front face to 24-1/2”
- Hold it flush with the siding on the side walls.
- Trace lines where the door should be cut, then cut the lines with a jigsaw.
- Nail the bottom piece of siding on with two nails in each stud, and three beneath the door opening.
- Cut two pieces with two rabbets to 7” long. Nail them in place on either side of the door.
- Cut another piece with 2 rabbets to 24-1/2” and hold it in place.
- Mark the door opening and the two corners.
- If you like, the top of the door opening can be shaped like an arch, angle, scrollwork, or square.
- Cut the lines.
- Finish out the front wall with the same procedure as the back wall.
The Roof Structure
- This step is easier with a helper but one person can do it with clamps or temporary screws.
- Mark a line down the center of the ridge beam using a chalk like, or a pencil and straightedge.
- Take one piece of 22x35” plywood and lay it over the rafters on one side of the roof.
- Align it with each end of the beam and align the bottom edge over center line you just drew.
- Place the 22-3/4” piece on the other side and let it overlap the first piece to for the peak of the roof. This make take a few minutes to get it adjusted properly.
- Attach both pieces of plywood with three 3” screws in each rafter.
- Apply exterior wood filler to all visible edges, then skim off with the putty knife (or cut cedar trim pieces to cover the edges.)
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for time to sand and paint after application of filler.
- Sand wood filler, if necessary.
- Wood filler will make the edge look better when painted, as well as protect from moisture infiltrating between the plies.
If you prefer, the roof can be shingled to match your house. If shingling, be sure to use drip edge, as it will extend the life of the roof.
The measurements in this section assume that the edges of the plywood roof were smoothed with wood filler. If you cut cedar trim pieces, adjust the roofing cuts accordingly.
- Cut the plastic roof panel into 4 equal length pieces, approximately 24” long.
- If you would like to save one section for some other use, cut one panel in half lengthways, otherwise, the full-width pieces can be overlapped.
- Connect two pieces of end closure together, then measure 35” and cut. Make 6 pieces this length.
- Put one piece of end closure across the top, center, and bottom of each side of the roof. These pieces can be taped in place to keep them from moving.
- Lay roofing panels in place over the strips.
- Allow the plastic roofing to extend past the edges of the plywood by at least 1” on the edges.
- Screw through the roof panel and closure strips into the roof using 1” roofing screws with rubber washers. Be sure not to over-tighten so that the screw points don’t extend through plywood.
- Cut the roof ridge cap to 37” and install on the ridge. Attach with 4 screws per side, through the closure strips.
Trim and Paint
- Use the 1x3 cedar to trim the inside of the door.
- Cut pieces to fit the sides and bottom.
- Cut a piece to go across the top, if it was made square.
- If the top of the opening is shaped, it can be left untrimmed.
- The side corners can be trimmed if desired.
- If the treated wood base is to be painted, it should be allowed to dry for several months after purchase before painting.
- Cedar can be stained, painted, or left alone. It is naturally rot and insect resistant and will turn to a weathered gray color in time.
Insulating Your DIY Dog House
The plans for this DIY dog house create a nice outdoor accommodation, but dog houses need more when it comes to weathering the elements. Be sure to take all necessary precautions to give your pet protection from inclement weather.
- Insulation is a good to include in your dog house plans, and there is a wide variety of materials available. Pink fiberglass is excellent for use in your insulated dog house plans.
- Lightweight reflective coil and spray foam insulation are also efficient.
- Recycled carpet is a cost-effective solution. Just staple or glue pieces of recycled carpet to the interior walls to break the impact of the wind.
Remember, if it is too cold, bring your dog indoors.
Your dog deserves a comfortable house so think about a dog house upgrade. This guide shows you how to build a suitable shelter using specific dog house designs and offers tips on insulated dog house plans to keep your pet comfortable. Don't worry if you don't own all of the tools needed. Visit The Home Depot Tool Rental for the tools and trucks to use in your DIY project.