For those of us who are handy, adding a new access panel to the drywall in your home can be a great way to keep a well-tended home. Access panels are used to give you easy and controlled access to things like pipes, drains, and electrical wiring in the walls so that you can quickly make repairs or conduct routine maintenance. Here’s how you can go about making one:
Make a pattern.
Now that you know how to make a pattern, let’s get started. Use either a template, compass, straightedge or laser level to create the lines for your access panel. A laser measuring device can also be used to determine exact measurements.
If you have access to a protractor and framing square (or any other type of diagonal line tool), place them at 90 degrees or create a square with chalk lines on the drywall while wearing safety glasses as you work. You can also use these tools together: For example, connect two intersecting pencil marks on one side of your wall with another pencil mark on the opposite side before cutting through them with either an angle grinder or reciprocating saw according to the instructions included with those tools
Cut access panel opening.
- Use a drywall saw to cut through the opening and into the studs, as well as around any pipes or wiring that may be in your way.
- Make sure you have enough room to open the panel without hitting other objects with it or having it fall out on you! If not, enlarge your access panel by cutting more wall away from its edges and sides until there’s enough clearance for you to slide it open easily (and safely).
- To prevent flooring damage, attach some wood blocks under any legs of furniture that might get bumped by an opening in your wall/ceiling—this includes desks, tables, chairs… basically anything with a leg touching the ground!
Cut wood to fit opening.
When cutting the wood, make sure to cut them to fit the opening.
You will also need two pieces of 1″ x 2″ lumber that are 3 feet long. The purpose of this is to help reinforce your access panel and provide a surface for attaching it to the wall.
Attach wood to ceiling.
Attach wood to ceiling by using a level to make sure the wood is straight, then drilling holes in the wood where you marked it with your pencil. Use a screwdriver or hammer to screw the wood into place.
Create insulation dam in access panel.
To create a dam around the access panel opening, use a putty knife to cut away drywall and make a 3/8”-deep dam all around it. Use caution when cutting drywall so that you don’t accidentally damage any electrical wiring or plumbing in the wall.
For metal access panels, use a hacksaw to remove metal from around the perimeter of the access panel opening. Cut away enough metal so that you can secure an insulation matting inside before securing your new drywall patch over top of it (as shown below).
Install support straps for access panel door.
To securely hold the door in place, install metal support straps to each edge of the access panel. The straps should be sturdy enough to support the weight of your door and should be installed vertically.
To determine proper strap length, measure from edge of drywall over to where you’ll install your door latch hardware on top of a piece of wood or backer board. The wood will serve as a “hinge” for your door when it opens and closes. Cut two pieces that are long enough for both straps with an extra foot (or so) on either side for trimming later if necessary. You can also cut them longer than needed; they will fold over at each end once they’re installed if they are too long and overlap any other trim work such as baseboard molding or window casings around your house so this is fine!
Install drywall on door.
- Install drywall on door.
- Use a level to make sure the drywall is straight. Tape the drywall to the wood, then use a drywall knife to cut away excess material. Make sure that it is level with the surrounding area by eye or with a taut string line level.*
Cut away excess drywall and tape edges.
Once you’ve cut away the excess drywall, smooth the edges with a putty knife and tape them with a drywall taping knife. Use a finishing knife to smooth down any bumps or ridges caused by imperfect cuts, then prime the panel before painting it.
Plaster and paint access panel door to match ceiling surface.
To match the ceiling surface, use a paint roller to apply the plaster and a paintbrush to apply the paint. Apply all three coats of plaster and paint in this manner:
- Use an extension pole for reaching hard-to-reach places.
- For large areas, you can use a sprayer instead of rolling or brushing.
You can make your own access panels out of inexpensive materials
You can make your own access panels out of inexpensive materials. To do this, you will need to cut an opening in the drywall and attach wood strips to the inside of the wall. The wood is attached to the drywall with screws. An insulation dam is then created by hammering a piece of wood into place between two studs. Straps are then secured over the insulation dam using tape, which prevents them from pulling away from their anchor points on either end.
To make an access panel, you need to start by planning the area. Then, you’ll need to cut out a square in your drywall. Once that square has been removed, use wood planks to fill the space and create an opening for your access door. After attaching these pieces of wood together with screws or nails, cover them with insulation and drywall before painting over the access panel so it blends in with the rest of your ceiling.