What to use for Access panel cover?

We have an approximately 6x8" hole in the drywall that serves as a crude access hole to the shower behind it. The previous owners had just hung a large louvered vent (much bigger than the hole) to cover it. The hole itself is framed internally on 1 side by a stud and the other sides just have open plaster or plaster/lathe.
What is the best way to cover the hole while still preserving access to the plumbing?
1. Building a wooden frame around it and cutting a plywood door which is then painted. However, this takes a fair bit of work...
2. Buying a prefab panel? However, my local home stores only had one version which was for a much larger size. Also, would I still need to build a frame around it?
3. Other?
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On 11/29/2004 9:37 PM US(ET), blueman took fingers to keys, and typed the following:

How often do you think you will have to access those pipes? Regularly, occasionally, hardly ever, or maybe never again? If one of the first two, hang a picture over it. If one of the second two, seal it.

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Are you afraid of manual labor? It can be done in less than a half hour even by a hack.

Hang a mirror or picture over it.
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3. Cover it with drywall tape and sand and paint. Access to the back of plumbing gives you no benifit as you service and replace parts from the front IMHO. If you sometime way down the line have to replace the unit then access from the back maybe a benefit but try to imagine working on plumbing in a 6 x 8 inch hole..
Good luck, Rich
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Go to the local hardware store or HD and buy a "plumbers access cover" (or similar). They come in many sizes and do not need a frame. They are white plastic and snap into almost any size hole in drywall. $ 5-10. You can paint them or wallpaper them, if you must. Looks very neat and professional.
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Walter
The Happy Iconoclast www.rationality.net
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My suggestion is to enlarge the hole, at least to the next stud, and probably in height too, so you will have useful access in the future. Then frame it, tying in to the studs, and get a good piece of plywood and build a hatch. When I did this, I stained and finished the frame and hatch to match (pretty closely) the woodwork in the room.
Yes, it took time, but I think the results are worth it.
blueman wrote:

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hang a picture over it and call it good
Wayne

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I like that idea, but unfortunately access panel is at baseboard level which is a bit of a funny place for a picture :)
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writes:

i hung a picture of a really fat cat just over my cat's food bowl. that's at baseboard level too, although it hasn't helped cut down on the amount of food that gets eaten.
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I remodeling my bathroom and had the same issue. I was going to build a frame with a piece of plywood, but since I was remodeling the kitchen as well I found an extra cabinent door with the nice full coverage recessed hinges. It looks much more attractive than a panel, but of course you need to have a extra cabinent door handy, otherwise the wood frame option would be the most economical.
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