How to Install a Plumbing Access Panel

loosening metal plumbing pipes
What You'll Need
Construction adhesive
Utility knife
Straight edge
Prefabricated plumbing access panel
Tape measure
Stud finder
Drywall saw

Years ago, every house had a plumbing access panel for the bathroom. The practice of installing them fell out of favor due to their sheer ugliness. After all, who would want this ugly little door in the middle of the wall? So function gave way to beauty. The problem is, however, that whenever one needs access to the plumbing a hole must be cut into the wall, a hole that will need to be repaired when you are done. That is also a bad idea. Nonetheless, thanks to modern building materials you can now install a plumbing access panel that has form as well as function.

Step 1 - Locate the Plumbing

You will need to start by locating where the plumbing is located. For the bathroom you can measure from the outside wall to the shower head or faucet. Then you will measure from the floor to the shower head or faucet.

Once you get your measurements go into the room that shares the wall. Use your measurements to mark the wall in the correct location.

Step 2 - Find the Studs

wall studs with plumbing pipes woven throughout

The next step is to locate the studs inside the wall. You will want to install your plumbing access panel between the studs, not on them.

Step 3 - Outline

Measure the back of the prefabricated plumbing access panel and, using those measurements and a straight edge, mark the place you wish to install it. It is suggested that you actually use the pencil and draw it on the wall. This will give you lines to follow as you cut. You can also have someone hold the panel to the wall while you trace it.

Step 4 - Cut the Drywall

cutting drywall with a drywall saw

Use your utility knife and drywall saw to cut the drywall. Remember, if you don't take off enough you can always trim a little more, but if you take off too much it can be very difficult to fix. You also want to be careful not to cut through any wiring or pipes that may be hidden from view, so make your cuts shallow at first. The hole you cut should give you good access to the plumbing.

Step 5 - Pre-fit

Slide the plumbing access panel into the hole you made to make sure it fits snugly. Now is the time to do any additional cutting to make sure it is right.

Step 6 - Finish

Once you have made all of you adjustments, apply the construction adhesive to the plumbing access panel and place it where you want it to be in the wall.

Step 7 - Let it Dry

Wait for the glue to dry.