As a contractor, making a small mistake could mean losing the job. If you're just starting out in the contractor business, you can't afford to let this happen.
Knowing how and when to install drywall access panels is an essential element in drywall installation. It's important to be prepared by educating yourself on all aspects of the process.
Access panels are small doors that provide entry to a space or compartment behind a wall, floor or ceiling. Usually, they're installed for easy access to plumbing components, electrical outlets or circuit boxes.
These panels are designed to remain inconspicuous and align with the surface that they are being installed on. This creates a convenient opening while maintaining the original appearance of the wall.
Knowing When to Install Drywall Access Panels
When putting up drywall, it's important to know where you'll need to install an access panel. Because the wood or metal framework of a room will still be exposed, it should be easy to know where the plumbing or electrical components are.
You'll want to purchase the access panels and take measurements so you can mark where on the drywall they'll need to be installed. Then you'll be ready to cut out a hole in the drywall where the panel will go.
Sometimes a new plumbing or electrical component will have to be added after the drywall is up. If this is the case, a new hole can be cut out and an access panel added.
Now, let's look at the different types of access panels so you know what to look for when starting a project.
Types of Access Panels
There are many types of drywall access panels, so you'll want to know what purpose they will serve before you purchase them. Some are quite basic and others are built with specific functionality in mind.
1) Picture Frame Panel
This is a very common access door which fits into an existing wall. These are great options if you simply need quick access to electrical or plumbing components behind drywall.
They typically have a 25mm frame around the actual door. These panels tend to be the easiest to install.
2) Plastic Panel
These access doors are cheap options and quite simple to install. They contain a flush plastic door surrounded by a 25m frame.
These operate in the same manner as the picture frame panel and are easy to install. The door can be removed with a pin hinge and the panel can be opened with a screwdriver. Great options if you need a cheap and fast access door.
3) Beaded Frame Panel
Instead of having a flat frame, this panel has beaded edges. Plaster adheres to the beaded texture around the door. This way the frame is concealed and only the door is exposed.
4) Fire Rated Access Panel
These are used specifically in fire rated walls, which are insulated to reduce heat during a fire. They are typically made of steel and are reinforced.
These panels are built to accommodate duel layered, fire rated gypsum board. They help maintain the fire resistant qualities of the wall while also providing an access door.
5) Security Access Panel
These are meant to provide secure access to areas behind walls. They are typically made using strong steel and are reinforced for maximum security.
If you're simply providing access to plumbing or electrical components, you'll most likely use a simple picture frame or beaded frame panel. But it's always important to know the function your panels will serve before purchasing them.
Installing Your Access Panels
Now that you've chosen which type of drywall access panels you'll be using, let's look at the steps you'll need to follow to install them. Remember, preparation is key.
1) Planning Where Your Access Panels Will Go
The first step will be to determine where the components are that need to be accessed. You can then take measurements and mark your drywall. This will allow you to know exactly where to install the access panel.
If you don't take measurements beforehand, you'll be guessing where to cut the hole for the panel. You then risk making a mistake and having to patch the drywall.
2) Trace the Panel Frame
Once you have the drywall up and have marked where the access panels should go, it's time to trace the frame of the panel. Hold the panel up to the drywall and trace a line around the edge of the frame exactly where it needs to go.
This will be the square that you will be cutting out. It may help to have someone hold the panel while you trace so you know that it's even.
3) Cutting a Hole in the Drywall
Once you have traced the outline of the drywall access panels it's time to cut out the hole. Using a drywall saw, cut just outside the traced line.
The hole must be slightly larger than the frame of the panel to ensure that it fits. A good rule of thumb is to cut no more than 1/4 of an inch on each side of the traced line. If you cut exactly on the line, the panel may not fit.
4) Fitting the Panel to the Hole
Once the hole is cut you'll need to test the frame to make sure it fits properly. When placing the frame in the hole, it should fit securely.
If the hole is not quite big enough for the frame you can cut a little more out of the drywall. Just be careful not to cut too much.
5) Securing the Panel
Once you're confident the panel fits properly you'll need to secure it with glue. You should use a caulking gun to run a bead of glue around the surface of the frame that will sit flush on the drywall.
Once the glue has been applied you can put the panel into the hole and press the frame against the drywall. Make sure all sides are pressed so that it dries evenly.
You want to tape the frame to the wall while the glue is drying. After the frame has bonded to the wall you can attach the door.
Quality Access Panels for Every Job
As a contractor, the quality of your work will help build your reputation. This improves your chances of winning bids on future jobs and growing your business. Educating yourself on small details like drywall access panels is essential.
Best Access Doors offers a wide range of access doors for different situations. Contact us for help choosing the right access door for your project.
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