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Old 02-03-2009, 05:54 PM   #1
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Finishing off access door panel


I wanted access doors in my wall so I could reach the water cutoff valves there instead of having someone ripping holes in my walls every time they needed to cut off the water flow (I'm trying to somewhat rectify a bad construction job done by original clueless contractors--don't ask). A handyman said he could do it and the holes were cut and the access doors (like this: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100059616) were installed. However, before he could finish, he vanished (Grrrr) and never completed the job. Now, I have a unpainted access door in my wall and I'd just like to finish it myself. My problem is that the access door has a "lip" that overlaps the opening so that it doesn't fall through into the wall cavity and it makes the access door/panel very obvious, even if it were to be painted over to match the surrounding gypsum wallboard.

Should I apply wallboard joint compound around the lip to smooth out the obvious step and thus make the access door more invisible or should I cut a small step in the gypsum wallboard around the opening for the "lip" and then apply wallboard joint compound? What's the recommended way to do this? I understand that I will still have to sand down the wallboard joint compound around the access panel and paint the whole thing afterwards.


Last edited by TanMan; 02-03-2009 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:12 PM   #2
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Finishing off access door panel


Can you post a picture?

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Old 02-03-2009, 10:54 PM   #3
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Finishing off access door panel


Your link to HD didn't show anything, so without knowing what you have now, I'll just describe making a typical Plumbing Access.

The easiest, and actually the most common installation, is to leave the access panel as is with square cut edges. (It's usually nothing more than a small piece of plywood anyway.) Also leave it sitting outside the hole, flat up against the outside of the wall surface. In fact, it should be about 2" wider than the opening... which should have a stud on the inside of each side (or some kind of wood).

Now, you drill four holes, one in each corner. Be sure that these holes are placed so that screws going through them will enter those two studs. This will hold the panel in place. Now you want to make it all look nice. Well... at least a little nicer than just a panel of plywood.

The hole for the panel will have been cut one of two ways. Either it will run all the way down to the baseboard, or it will just be a square or rectangle hole higher on the wall.

You are going to make a "picture frame" around the panel if it is high enough on the wall to have a few inches all around. If the hole goes all the way down to the baseboard, it means you cannot put a bottom piece on your "picture frame", so it will be a three sided frame with no bottom.

You can make either of these frames out of 2-1/4 door casing that you can get at HD. Whether the thicker side or the thinner side goes next to the panel is up to you, depend on how you like the look of the fit. Cut the frames so they fit pretty close to the panel, but leave them far enough away to get the panel out and back in again.

All the corners of either of these frames will simply be cut with 45 degree angles. If it is the three sided frame (hole goes all the way down to the baseboard), then you only need to cut two corners. Those two side pieces will have square ends that sit just above the top of the baseboard.

I suggest construction adhesive to simply stick them to the walls because nailing in there may be too difficult for you. And that casing can split near the corners. A day after, when the adhesive has all set up, you can putty the joints of the corners if they need it (probably will). Sand it off when that's dry, and paint it with the wall color, or a nice, contrasting color.

The frames will stay in place forever, and the panel can be removed by taking the four screws out. Be sure to put it back in the original way it came out so the screws will find their old holes.
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Last edited by Willie T; 02-03-2009 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:45 PM   #4
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Finishing off access door panel


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Can you post a picture?


The above is exactly what I've got installed--it's premade out of light sheet metal and found in most DIY stores. In writing out a whole elucidation about what I wanted done, I suddenly realized that the only practical way to get what I want done is just to spackle joint compound all around the edges and then sand off the excess to make the edges merge into the surrounding wallboard/sheetrock. The other way I was thinking about (by pulling it out, making a tiny "ledge" all around it and reinserting it) would compromise the sheetrock it's resting on and cause more issues than it would fix. Duh! I don't know what I was thinking... Probably was overthinking it altogether!

Thanks to all for replying.

Last edited by TanMan; 02-04-2009 at 12:14 AM. Reason: Adding more info to my reply.
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:17 AM   #5
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Finishing off access door panel


Seems an inordinate amount of expended energy, but..You will probably need to tape the edges or cracks will show up around the edges.
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:52 AM   #6
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Finishing off access door panel


If you mean cutting a slight recess, the size of the frame, and insetting the frame flush with the drywall surface... that CAN be done. But it will entail a fair bit of detailed D/W finishing, and probably wouldn't be worth the effort.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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Finishing off access door panel


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Seems an inordinate amount of expended energy, but..You will probably need to tape the edges or cracks will show up around the edges.
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Yeah but it looked so inelegant the way it was laying on my wall thereby prompting me to try and make it look more elegant. The handyman bailed midway through the job, which is why I'm in this lurch right now.

Thanks for the suggestion about taping the edges. I'll try and see if that'll work.

Last edited by TanMan; 02-04-2009 at 09:33 PM. Reason: Expanded on my comments.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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Finishing off access door panel


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If you mean cutting a slight recess, the size of the frame, and insetting the frame flush with the drywall surface... that CAN be done. But it will entail a fair bit of detailed D/W finishing, and probably wouldn't be worth the effort.
That's exactly what I was thinking of although I didn't know/was wondering if doing so would compromise the drywall itself since it's basically compressed gypsum bound between two sheets and one of the sheets would be removed with the cutting of the recess... Hence my question. I'll probably just tape the edges instead. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:54 PM   #9
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Finishing off access door panel


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That's exactly what I was thinking of although I didn't know/was wondering if doing so would compromise the drywall itself since it's basically compressed gypsum bound between two sheets and one of the sheets would be removed with the cutting of the recess... Hence my question. I'll probably just tape the edges instead. Thanks for the feedback.
Well, as I said, it CAN be done... and would probably look smooth and clean. But all four edges would have to be backed with wood nailers. And although the 2" rim of paper would peel off pretty readily, the job of carefully scraping off just the thickness of gypsum to allow the frame to inset perfectly would be super tedious. That stuff starts to crack apart and fall out if you work at it too fast. And then you would have to try to seal it with something to return some measure of solidity before you screwed the frame through it. Yes, the holes would have to be carefully drilled first.

Yes, it CAN work, and once screwed to those wood backers (nailers) it would be reasonably strong and stable. But I have to say I would probably charge you an arm and a leg to do a job like that. It's that labor intensive.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:27 PM   #10
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Finishing off access door panel


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Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Well, as I said, it CAN be done... and would probably look smooth and clean. But all four edges would have to be backed with wood nailers. And although the 2" rim of paper would peel off pretty readily, the job of carefully scraping off just the thickness of gypsum to allow the frame to inset perfectly would be super tedious. That stuff starts to crack apart and fall out if you work at it too fast. And then you would have to try to seal it with something to return some measure of solidity before you screwed the frame through it. Yes, the holes would have to be carefully drilled first.

Yes, it CAN work, and once screwed to those wood backers (nailers) it would be reasonably strong and stable. But I have to say I would probably charge you an arm and a leg to do a job like that. It's that labor intensive.
Since it would be me doing it, I'm more worried about the "crack apart and fall out" bit. And to add to it all, the tediosity of the whole effort.

Oh well. Tape and spackle, it is.
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Old 02-05-2009, 12:51 AM   #11
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Finishing off access door panel


its nice topics Thanks to both of you. I'll take a look this weekend and see if I can get it open. hahaha
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:31 AM   #12
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Finishing off access door panel


I usually cover access holes with a return air grill as long as the hole isn't too big. Some black plastic taped to the back keeps anyone from seeing it's not a real duct. Or you can use a supply and close it. Returns are cheaper.....
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:59 PM   #13
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Finishing off access door panel


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I wanted access doors in my wall so I could reach the water cutoff valves there instead of having someone ripping holes in my walls every time they needed to cut off the water flow (I'm trying to somewhat rectify a bad construction job done by original clueless contractors--don't ask). A handyman said he could do it and the holes were cut and the access doors (like this: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100059616) were installed. However, before he could finish, he vanished (Grrrr) and never completed the job. Now, I have a unpainted access door in my wall and I'd just like to finish it myself. My problem is that the access door has a "lip" that overlaps the opening so that it doesn't fall through into the wall cavity and it makes the access door/panel very obvious, even if it were to be painted over to match the surrounding gypsum wallboard.

Should I apply wallboard joint compound around the lip to smooth out the obvious step and thus make the access door more invisible or should I cut a small step in the gypsum wallboard around the opening for the "lip" and then apply wallboard joint compound? What's the recommended way to do this? I understand that I will still have to sand down the wallboard joint compound around the access panel and paint the whole thing afterwards.

Can you just take out the one he started with? I used an access panel made by Oatey when I did my basement remodel. I believe I just had to cut a 14" x 14" hole in the drywall and the outer part of the access panel frame was just glued to the wall (or ceiling in my case) with const. adhesive.

It was only about $10-15 at Menards. Nice and neat.

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