How to Install Ceiling Access Panels

A ceiling access panel.
  • 24 hours
  • Beginner
  • 90-160
What You'll Need
1-2x4 or 2x6 board
1-Piece of 1/2 in or 3/4 plywood
Finishing nails
Safety goggles
Plastic sheeting (optional)

Every homeowner will eventually find that they need ceiling access panels. Perhaps you would like to upgrade your insulation, require a place to store a few boxes or just need to access the wiring. Ceiling access panels will make it a lot easier. This article will walk you through the steps needed to install a ceiling access panel in the easiest way.

Step 1 - Choose Location for Your Ceiling Access Panel

Although you can put your ceiling access panel almost anywhere, you may want to place them in a closet or another location that is out of the way. A ceiling access panel is often rather ugly, so putting it in the middle of the living room is not a good idea.

You will also want to place the panel as close as possible to anything you may want to work on later. For instance, if your air conditioner is in the ceiling, getting close to it may be helpful if there is a problem at some point later. You will also need to locate your ceiling joists, as your access panel needs to be centered between them.

Step 2 - Measure

Measure the distance between the ceiling joists and the location for the access panel. Draw lines on the ceiling to aid in cutting. You will need these measurements when you cut the plywood, so write them down for further reference.

Step 3 - Cut

Once you have your measurements, use your saw to cut the hole in the ceiling. Wear your safety goggles, as dust will get into your eyes.

Step 4 - Support

Cut the beam into two pieces of the correct size. Secure the pieces opposite of one another and across the ceiling joists. Make sure they are secure since they will need to bear your weight later.

Step 5 - Cut Plywood

Cut the plywood to the correct dimensions for your door. It will need to fit snugly into the hole.

Step 6 - Paint

Paint your plywood a color that matches your ceiling, or in any color you choose. Let the paint dry for several hours before finishing the installation. You may want to paint the casing now so it will have time to dry before you install it.

Step 7 - Place Plywood into the Attic

Place your plywood into the attic or crawlspace with the painted side down and the panel to the side. Make sure your plywood is dry enough you can move it without smudging the paint or having the paint drip into your face as you move it. To be on the safe side, wear safety glasses as you place it.

Step 8 - Install Casing

Install the casing around your hole with the finishing nails. Make sure it is tight, as it will serve as a seat for the panel to rest on.

Step 9 - Finish

Let the paint dry completely. It is is best to leave it for 24 hours. Once the paint is dry, your new ceiling access panel will be complete. Clean up your tools.

TIP: If you're concerned about paint dripping onto your floor as it dries, put down plastic sheeting under the panel.