The pieces of a building’s plumbing system run behind walls, above ceilings, and underneath floors in the majority of homes and commercial properties. This out of the way location keeps often unattractive pipes from view. It also protects the plumbing. An accidental bump or freezing temperatures can lead to costly plumbing issues, and an interior location provides an insulated barrier.
Because different parts of a plumbing system may need ongoing access or maintenance, a hole in the wall allows a plumber or contractor to reach hidden pipes and valves. An access panel seals up that hole, but can be easily opened when necessary.
Where to Place a Plumbing Access Panel
The location of plumbing components will determine where the access panel is placed, making kitchens and bathrooms common locations. Many property owners prefer to place panels closer to the floor or behind an object for aesthetic reasons, especially when using a panel made of a substrate that stands out from the wall. Access panels are often installed over:
- Water Shut Off Valves
- Water Pumps
- Pipe Couplings
- Water Heaters
- Leaking Pipes
While some plumbing access panels may be installed during construction or renovation, it is also common to place them when a repair requires cutting away a portion of the wall. Rather than replacing a section of drywall, installing an access panel offers a simpler and often more affordable fix that offers the benefit of allowing future access to the same pipes in the future.
Pros and Cons of Plumbing Access Panel Materials
Of the available materials, plumbing access panels made of metal, plastic, and glass fiber reinforced gypsum (GFRG) are the most typically used. Each has certain advantages that make it ideal for different uses.
- Pros - Often made of galvanized or stainless steel, metal panels are waterproof and resistant to rust. They will not break, even over years of use. Many metal access panels can be primed and finished as desired.
- Cons - Metal is a heavier material, making installation more rigorous to give these panels the support they need. Because of the durability and material cost, metal tends to be a more expensive option.
- Pros - Chosen for its affordability, plastic panels are often simple to install. Many rely on adhesive rather than hardware to hold them to the wall. These panels are lightweight and readily available at most hardware stores.
- Cons - Plastic can warp in heat and offers little insulating effect. It can last for several years, but will often show wear sooner than other materials. Cheaper commercially available plastic access panels are harder to conceal, giving a less professional look.
- Pros - Plumbing access panels from GFRG are resistant to scratching, breaking, and warping. It is lightweight for convenient installation and able to be painted or finished in the same method as the rest of the wall because of its similar composition. GFRG access panels are the most inconspicuous material and will not stand out.
- Cons - GFRG is not waterproof, and should not be used in an area where it is likely to get wet. If waterproofing is needed, the related GFRC should be used.
GFRG plumbing access panels from Ledge Products are made from 100% recycled content that offers all the benefits of reinforced materials. But our standard of production also sets these panels apart from others on the market. With decades of experience working with GFRG through our parent company GC Products, we are able to make the highest quality access panels and competitive prices.
Whether you are a contractor or private individual, choosing a GFRG access panel from Ledge Products gives you the most functional and attractive access panel on the market. Browse the wholesale access panels on our website or contact us with any questions.