How to Build Drywall and Wood Trim Access Panels

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Whether plumbing, electrical or HVAC controls are within a finished wall, access may someday be needed. And if it is when an emergency strikes, access to these controls may need to be immediate, with no time to cut a hole into drywall. By building an access panel, you gain the ability to open and close these area when needed. By using wood trim, you will gain a more finished look.

Things You'll Need

  • Drywall saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Level or straight edge
  • 1 1/4-inch brad nails (your choice)
  • Hammer
  • Miter box and saw
  • Caulk
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Measure and lay out the opening needed for your access panel, using a measuring tape, level or straight edge, and pencil.

  • Cut on your pencil marks, using a drywall saw.

  • Remove the drywall from any framing within the opening. Try to remove the drywall without damaging. But if it becomes damaged simply cut and replace it with a new piece of drywall with the same dimensions, using a drywall saw.

  • Measure the four sides of your piece of drywall for wood trim. The trim should overhang the drywall piece halfway. If you have 2 1/2-inch casing, overhang it by 1 1/4 inch.

  • Cut the trim with a miter saw, using a 45-degree angle on joining ends.

  • Nail wood trim to the piece of drywall to be used as a access panel, using a hammer and brad nails. Imagine you're putting a picture frame around your piece of drywall. This is what it should look like when complete. Remember to overhang the trim about halfway.

  • Place the finished access panel into the opening in the wall. Caulk it into place and paint with a paintbrush.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is usually best to use a hand saw when cutting a wall known to have water or electrical lines.
  • Always wear a face mask when cutting drywall.

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