Access Panel


I am in the stage of painting a spare room, which, on one wall, has an access panel to service the bathroom tub plumbing. Currently, the panel area contains basic door trim molding with a 1/8" thick grooved board screwed into the wall at each corner as it has been since I bought the house. I would like to remove this set up and have a better layout which offers easier access without the need of a screwdriver and a more stylish or hidden design, if possible. I am also trying to avoid purchasing a specialized sized access panel which will require cutting and modifying the current opening area. Any suggestions for a better layout?
Thank you
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SBH wrote:

Back in the stone age, we cased them out like door openings, including stop molding set back whatever distance was correct for the cover panel used. We then held them in place with magnetic cabinet latches. Sometimes added a drawer pull on the front to get them off easily. Nothing wrong with a few screws, especially if there are kids in the house. If it is too easy to open, they WILL open it, and crawl inside if the space is big enough, or if not, they will stuff the cat in there. (It's not that they are evil- it is in kid hardwiring to do stuff like that.)
Personally, I'd just replace the existing trim with something minimalist, and make a fresh panel out of masonite or cabinet-grade ply, painted to match the wall. It is what it is- nobody is gonna find it offensive. If you want to practice your drywall skills, they sell J-shaped plastic edge bead that you could slide behind the drywall edges, and mud smooth. If you make the panel sit flush and use magnetic catches or velcro tape, it would pretty much vanish. A big magnet glued to the back of the panel in a secret spot would let you use any metal tool to open the panel.
-- aem sends...
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How big is the existing panel now?
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15 1/2" w x 29" l
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SBH wrote:

That is one stud bay wide. The idea I mentioned about the plastic J-channel edging would be Real Easy to implement, since you already have studs behind the edges. If there is no blocking inside at the top and bottom, add a couple pieces of 1x inside, held in with screws through the drywall, and you have your flush-edge opening (once you mud it, which you will be doing anyway to fix dings and holes before you paint). Just add blocks in the corners screwed to the studs at a suitable depth for whatever smooth panel you choose, and screws or velcro or magnet catches or whatever you decide on, and paint to suit. I'd go with 1/2" cabinet grade plywood, primed and painted, since it is easy to get the same texture as drywall on that. The borg sells small pieces pretty cheap in their project aisle. Hardest part will be making the corners of the opening as square as the panel is, so you have a uniform tight crack on all 4 sides. Cut your panel slightly oversize and plane or sand to fit, for a nice snug fit.
-- aem sends...
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Have you been looking in my windows? You have it down to a T. The two sides are at the studs and no wood backing at top nor bottom. Therefore, I plan to use your idea probably with magnets. Thank you

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Perhaps I should elaborate more so on the issue of aesthetics. The panel and molding is 70's style old and hideous looking. I meant easier in the option perhaps of magnetic points of something along those lines. I'm looking for a cleaner flush look than what's there.
I can assure you, the residence artist enjoys more than the view of stick figures.
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SBH wrote:

We have a guest bedroom with a.p. to adjoining bath. It had simply a plain slab of drywall screwed on. When I repainted, I bought a plain picture frame and a primed masonite panel to fit the frame, glued in, and painted them to match the walls. I used screws to fasten the frame, but magnetic catches would work as well. If there is no framing behind the opening, you could fashion some to glue in place to hold magnetic catches. One could also do without the frame and used only the masonite panel, available in lots of sizes at art/craft stores.
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Access panels should be made for those rare times you need to access plumbing--hopefully never. I didn't bother to make an access panel, but a section of drywall could be removed if need be.
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