Give yourself a no-demolition route to faucets, drains, and valves with access panels.
In a bathroom, an access panel is the no-demolition route to the back of faucets, the drain for a bathtub, and the mixing valve of a shower. When it's time for repairs and replacements, access is a snap instead of adding hit-and-miss wall demolition and patching on top of the plumbing chores.
Access panels are particularly helpful when you're converting utility spaces like a basement, attic, or garage into a living area. By installing access panels, you preserve the ability to find and easily reach shut-off valves and drain cleanouts.
But you don't have to limit the panels to plumbing applications. You can also utilize them for easily reaching breaker boxes, electrical junction boxes, runs of telephone and data cable, plus other uses.
You can purchase metal and plastic access panels in a wide variety of sizes -- from fist-size to large enough to permit an average-size person to crawl through. Some styles of purchased panels permit a choice between easy surface mounting or flush mounting. Flush mounting is slightly more difficult but much less visible.
20 minutes to install a small access panel
Tape measure, level, jab saw, caulking gun
Leveling, cutting an opening in drywall
Identify location for panel.
Purchased access panel, drywall panel adhesive
Squirt a small bead of construction adhesive along the rear perimeter of the flange, and press the housing into place. The door simply snaps into position. If you paint the plastic the same color as the wall, caulk the edges of the housing to help blend it into the wall.
For flush installation, the entire housing goes into the hole and is held by construction adhesive between the flange and the back surface of the wall. Test-fit the housing before applying adhesive. The housing shown is designed for a flush fit in 5/8-inch drywall. If your walls are thinner, add flat shims between the flange and drywall.