Informational Guide

Best Plumbing Access Panels Reviewed

Having access panels can make home plumbing projects a lot easier. Find a top-rated option in this review guide.

by Ian Haynes

When doing any plumbing work in your home, having plumbing access panels can make the project a lot easier. A plumbing access panel is typically a piece of wood or plywood that can be removed to allow access to important plumbing parts. If you are thinking of getting one for your home, you want to ensure that it is the right size. So, we have reviewed 8 of the best options so you can get the perfect fit.

Preview

Product

Material

Available Sizes

Installation Type

Check Price

Oatey 34056, 14' x 14' Access Panel 14'x14',...

Oatey

34056

Plastic

14 x 14 Inches

Flush mount or surface-mounted

SUMASAI Plumbing Access Panel Access Panel 12...

SUMASAI

Plastic

4 x 6, 6 x 9, 8 x 8, 12 x 12 Inches

Surface-mounted

Fluidmaster AP-0808 Click Fit Access Panel...

Fluidmaster AP-0808 Click Fit

Plastic

8 x 8, 14 x 14 Inches

Surface mounted

Suteck Plastic Access Panel for Drywall...

Suteck

Plastic

4 x 6, 6 x 9, 8 x 8, 12 x 12, 14 x 14, 18 x 18 Inches

Surface mounted

Wallo APR-0501 Round Access Panel, 4.75 Inch

Wallo APR-0501

Plastic

4.75, 7, or 9 inches

Flush mounted

Elmdor 24'x 24' DW Series Access Door For...

Elmdor DW Series

Galvanized steel

24.5 x 24.5 Inches

Surface mounted

JL Industries 1212FD 12 x 12 Fire Rated...

JL Industries 1212FD

Galvanized steel

12 x 12 Inches

Flush mounted

Premier 5000 Series Commercial Grade Steel...

Premier 5000 Series

Commercial-grade steel

24 x 24 Inches

Flush mounted


Why Use Plumbing Access Panels?

Plumbing issues can sometimes be a long ordeal when you don't know exactly what is causing the problem. However, sometimes having access to important areas can make the diagnosis a lot easier. So, why use plumbing access panels in your home? Well, for starters, if you don't have access panels, then plumbers will have to do some demolition work to look at your pipes.

This will take time and cost you more money, plus it will be much more disruptive to your daily life. Access panels ensure that you don't need to do this because your plumber will have direct access to what they need to look at. These panels can be placed on your wall, roof, ceiling, or near a duct to allow for easy access to certain systems.


Plumbing Access Panel Buying Guide

Location of Access Panels

The type of access panel you will need will depend on where you are going to put it. If you are going to put it in the bathroom, then it needs to be able to handle moisture well. If you are going to put it in the ceiling, then the handle needs to be one that can be reached easily. Buying the wrong one for what you need will make it more difficult to open and close, and it may not last as long.

Type of Access Panels

There are several types of access panels used, and in commercial plumbing, fire-rated panels are common. However, in homes, they are not usually needed. So, you will typically see flush-mounted or surface-mounted options. These make it easy to install and will last through residential use.

Material

The material of the access panel depends on where you will put it and what conditions it will have to endure. If it is in the kitchen, then it may get more use than other areas of the house. So, this material should be very durable. However, if you need a bathroom access panel, then you will need a metal material that handles moisture well.

Size

The most common sizes that you will find on the market are made to fit in mid-sized homes. The 10x10 access panel is typical for most homes, while the 24x24 panels are better for larger homes. If you have a small space and need a smaller panel, then a 6x6 access panel will likely be your best option.

Mounting Type

Depending on how much you want your access panel to show, you will pick between two types of mounting; either easy surface mounting or flush mounting. Flush mounting is easier to hide since it lays flat against the wall. However, the easy surface mounting options are easier for plumbers to see when they need to gain access to the wall.

Accessories and Backups

Some accessories that might be needed are intake strainers and seacocks. An intake strainer works as a screen to stop debris and dust from getting inside the wall. This is great to use when the panel is in a dirtier area, like the basement or attic. You may also want to have a seacock, a valve that allows water to flow through pipes or into a certain area.

Price and Warranty

Buyers always need to have a budget in mind when they begin to look for a new product, so they know which options to narrow their choices down to. Going over that budget won’t mean that you are getting a better option, so you should know what your money is getting you.

Also, you want to take a look at the warranty. Lower warranties won’t be as good for you since the panel will likely last a while. If the warranty is only good for a year, you probably won’t need it until a few years of having the panel. They’re durable, so the warranties should reflect that.


8 Best Plumbing Access Panels Reviewed

1. Oatey 34056

Best plumbing access panel

Material

Plastic

Type of Access Panel

General-purpose

Available Sizes

14 x 14 Inches

Installation Type

Flush mount or surface-mounted

Best Location to install

Any room

The Oatey 14x14 access panel is our top pick because it is the best of the best. This access panel is made of hard plastic that is durable and can withstand moisture and water. It can be surface-mounted or flush-mounted, depending on what you would rather have. It is also a reversible option, so it doesn’t matter which side you attach to the wall, since you can’t go wrong.

This size access panel is a mid-range option that will work in many different homes. The size is not large or small and can be used in apartments, condos, or houses. There is no prominent handle visible on the access panel, so you do not need to worry about it being easy to see if it is out in the open. This means that you could place it wherever you need it without affecting the style of the room.

This plastic access panel can be used for all different types of systems like plumbing, electrical, security systems, computer cables, and sprinkler systems. It is not designed for use in only one area, so you can use it however you need it. 

Pros
  • Low-cost option
  • Panel is reversible
  • Doesn’t require framing
  • Multiple mounting choices available
Cons
  • No easy-open handle
  • Door tends to fit loosely

2. SUMASAI

Best plastic plumbing access panel

Material

Plastic

Type of Access Panel

General-purpose

Available Sizes

4 x 6, 6 x 9, 8 x 8, 12 x 12 Inches

Installation Type

Surface-mounted

Best Location to install

Any room

The Sumasai plastic access panel is the best plastic option that we found. The styrene plastic material is very durable and offers protection from fading with UV stabilizers. However, though it will resist fading when in sunlight, it is meant for indoor use only. This access panel can be placed on the wall of the ceiling and offers an easy installation.

To install this access panel, all you need to do is position it where you want it, mark the side with a pencil, then apply an adhesive around the frame. Stick it back on the wall with the adhesive and hold for a minute. This will allow the adhesive to dry a bit so that it will hold the panel up without you holding it. And, that is all you’ll need to do to have this option installed.

This plumbing access panel comes with snap latches on the frame and door so that they will snap together to keep the door shut. This allows the door to be flush with the frame and the wall, making the door less noticeable when inside the house.

Pros
  • Made from durable plastic
  • Many sizes available
  • Fits in any room
  • Classic white color
Cons
  • No easy-open handle
  • Door can be difficult to open

3. Fluidmaster AP-0808 Click Fit

Best spring loaded plumbing access panel

Material

Plastic

Type of Access Panel

General-purpose

Available Sizes

8 x 8, 14 x 14 Inches

Installation Type

Surface-mounted

Best Location to install

Any room

The Fluidmaster AP-0808 is an easy to open option that comes with a spring-loaded door. This allows you to open up the panel and gain access to your plumbing system much easier without needing to pry open a door that is flush with the wall. Also, the spring-loaded door makes the door more secure when it is shut so it won’t be opened accidentally.

This access panel is easy to install and can be done within minutes if you have the hole done already in the wall. As with the last option, you just use an adhesive to secure the frame and allow the glue to dry. However, if you would like, you could reinforce it with nails or screws. Just make sure that you don’t get ones that are too big and will crack the plastic.

A great feature of this access panel is that you can choose to paint over it or add wallpaper patching over it. This makes it easy to hide when you don’t want it shown, and it keeps it from staying white after you paint or wallpaper a room. Just have it match the rest of the wall, and it won’t be seen until you need it.

Pros
  • Spring-loaded door
  • Easy to install on your own
  • Can be painted over
  • Comes with a low price
Cons
  • Not many sizes available
  • Sticks out from wall slightly

4. Suteck

Best Drywall plumbing access panel

Material

Plastic

Type of Access Panel

General-purpose

Available Sizes

4 x 6, 6 x 9, 8 x 8, 12 x 12, 14 x 14, 18 x 18 Inches

Installation Type

Surface-mounted

Best Location to install

Any room

The Suteck drywall access panel is the best drywall plumbing access panel. The plastic material is very long-lasting and offers protection from fading with UV stabilizers. And since it will resist fading when in direct sunlight, it can be used for outdoor use too. This access panel can be placed on the wall of the ceiling and offers an easy installation.

This plumbing access panel comes with the frame and door so that they will together to keep the door shut. This allows the door to be flush with the wall, which makes the door less noticeable when inside or outside of the house.

To install this access panel, all you need to do is position it where you want it, mark the position with a pencil, then apply your adhesive around the frame. Stick it onto the wall with the adhesive and hold for a while. This will allow the adhesive to dry enough to hold the panel up without you holding it.

Pros
  • Adheres to drywall
  • Many sizes available
  • Easy to install yourself
  • Hinged door for easy opening
Cons
  • Not the cheapest option available
  • Hinges make the panel more visible

5. Wallo APR-0501

Best round plumbing access panel

Material

Plastic

Type of Access Panel

General Purpose (ideal for lighting)

Available Sizes

4.75, 7, or 9 inches

Installation Type

Flush mounted

Best Location to install

Any room

The Wallo APR-0501 model is dubbed the best round plumbing access panel. This unique shape fits in smaller spaces and doesn’t take up as much room as square models. These are ideal for areas in the ceiling and to use for electrical wiring for installed light fixtures. The off-white color might make it stand out on a white ceiling, but the color is soft and easy on the eyes.

The round shape allows it to blend in with round ceiling lights, so it works best in that area. Plus, with the pop-in installation, you won’t have to take much time at all to put the panel up. This pop-in installation secures the panel while keeping it easy to put in and take out. And, with the fire-retardant plastic allows it to be close to hot lights without any danger.

This option is also completely self-contained and doesn't need any glue, fasteners, or latches to be installed. The backside of the panel comes with the pop-in system. To install it, you simply place one side of the plank inside the hole, then pop the other side in. This can take a bit of muscle, but it still makes for a quick and easy installation.

Pros
  • Round shape
  • Multiple sizes available
  • Easy to install yourself
  • Off-white color
Cons
  • Won’t fit on existing square holes
  • Requires ladder for ceiling installation

6. Elmdor DW Series

Best ceiling plumbing access panel

Material

Galvanized steel

Type of Access Panel

General Purpose

Available Sizes

24.5 x 24.5 Inches

Installation Type

Surface mounted

Best Location to install

Ceiling

The Elmdor DW series is an access panel that is made for the ceiling. This is a large plumbing access panel ideal for areas with lots of plumbing access and pipes. This is also ideal for one-story homes since they often have more plumbing in the home's ceiling. This steel access panel is durable and comes with a primer so that you can paint over it.

There is no handle for opening and closing the panel, but a screwdriver operated latch allows you to open and close the door easily. This also works to ensure that the door is secured shut if when you have it on the ceiling so that it won't open up while someone is walking underneath it and scare them.

This model's frame is made from one piece of steel and has no seams or points that are not as strong. This makes the access panel long-lasting. The installation can be done yourself and only requires you to use a few fasteners to secure the frame to the wall.

Pros
  • Made for ceiling installation
  • Fasteners used for installation
  • Durable and strong steel
  • Can paint over the steel
Cons
  • More expensive choice
  • Requires a ladder for installation

7. JL Industries 1212FD

Best fire-rated access panel

Material

Galvanized steel

Type of Access Panel

General Purpose

Available Sizes

12 x 12 Inches

Installation Type

Flush mounted

Best Location to install

Any Room

The JL Industries 1212FD is a safety option that comes with the title of the best fire-rated access panel. It is easy to open the, and that comes with a concealed pivot rod. This allows you to open up the panel and access your plumbing system much easier without prying it open.

This access panel is easy to install and can be done within minutes if you already have the hole. As with the last option, you just use an adhesive to secure down the frame and allow the glue to dry; then, you can reinforce it with screws.

A great feature of this option is that you can open the door very easily. The pin and ring just need to be turned, and then the door will open up. This makes access very easy. This option is also fire-rated and is safer around higher heats and bright lights where plastic might begin to melt.

Pros
  • Is fire-rated 
  • Can withstand high heat
  • Durable and strong steel
  • Primer painted for repainting
Cons
  • Most expensive choice
  • Only one size available

8. Premier 5000 Series

Best exterior plumbing access panel

Material

Commercial-grade steel

Type of Access Panel

General Purpose

Available Sizes

24 x 24 Inches

Installation Type

Flush mounted

Best Location to install

Outdoor walls

The Premier 5000 series is designed for outdoor use and gives you better access to your plumbing system when it needs work. The material used for this panel can withstand any weather and heat conditions so it can be installed outside. This makes it a durable option that can be in direct sunlight and won’t fade quickly. 

The hinges on this panel are concealed so that they do not stick out farther than the door. This makes it less noticeable in the yard and can make it blend into the wall better. This option is also strong enough for use with commercial applications and can be used for workspaces, construction jobs, and in commercial buildings.

The panel's door has a screwdriver latch that allows the door to be shut and secured tightly while making it flush with the wall. You can simply use a screwdriver to loosen the latch so that the door can be opened. When you are done, just tighten the screw, and you will have secured the door.

Pros
  • Made for exterior use
  • Comes at an affordable price
  • Can be for commercial use
  • Has a screwdriver latch
Cons
  • Not the cheapest option
  • Few sizes available

Types of Plumbing Access Panels

  • Architectural Access Door/General Purpose
    The primary use is for indoor spaces and is placed anywhere in the house. They can be flush or surface mounted and often come in basic white to match blank walls and ceilings.
  • Exterior Panels
    Stainless steel access doors are one type of exterior panel used for commercial uses and in outdoor spaces. The material allows it to withstand different weather conditions and can be installed on exterior walls. Aluminum access doors are not as tough as steel and are only used for residential use. They are strong enough to handle the outdoors, and the aluminum is very durable.
  • Drywall Access Door
    A drywall access door is made specifically for drywall material. This is used in indoor spaces where drywall is used, which is not as strong as wood.
  • Fire-Rated Insulated Access Door
    Fire-rated insulated access doors are used in areas where fires from wiring or high heat could be an issue. The fire-rated options are safe from fire, and the insulation will help stop the heat from getting in through the door and ruining wiring. 
  • Plaster Bead Access Door
    A plaster bead access door is designed to be used on plaster walls. The plaster is not as tough and can be chipped through regular use, but these options have safety edges to prevent this.

Tips For Installing Access Panels For Plumbing

Ceiling - How to build a ceiling access panel
  1. 1
    Choose your location
  2. 2
    Measure the area around the panel location
  3. 3
    Cut the hole into the wall
  4. 4
    Cut the plywood to fit the door
  5. 5
    Install the casing
  6. 6
    Place your access panel into the space
Drywall - How do you attach an access panel to drywall?
  1. 1
    Locate your fixture
  2. 2
    Cut a hole into the drywall
  3. 3
    Trace your access panel frame
  4. 4
    Cut around the traced area
  5. 5
    Check that the frame fits
  6. 6
    Use adhesive to glue the frame to the drywall
  7. 7
    Tape the frame to stay in place
  8. 8
    Wait until the next day to attach the door
Plumbing Access Panel Oatey
Bathroom/Shower Panel

In most cases, you will not have an access door for your bathroom or shower. However, if you want to add one, then follow these steps.

  1. 1
    Choose your location
  2. 2
    Measure the access panel
  3. 3
    Mark the wall for the hole
  4. 4
    Cut the hole for the panel
  5. 5
    Put adhesive on the inside of the frame
  6. 6
    Carefully place the frame inside the hole
  7. 7
    Tape the frame so it stays in place
  8. 8
    Add the access door the next day.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Do you need an access panel for a shower?

You don’t need it, but it is good to have one nearby the shower because of all the piping around the bathroom that will need to be accessed.

Are access panels required for bathtub plumbing access?

Most bathtubs nowadays don’t require you to have an access panel nearby, but it can be a good idea to have one if you have a heater.

Can I build my own access panel door?

You can choose to build one on your own, but you have to how to build an access panel door. So, make sure you research before you start this project.

How do I replace a shower faucet without the access panel?

Without an access panel, you might have to cut a hole around the current shower to remove it and allow the replacement to be installed.

Is it possible to replace a Roman tub faucet with no access panel?

Yes, it is possible to replace a Roman tub faucet with no access panel, but you will have to shut off the water and install a new faucet inside the faucet head.

Can I order my access panel online?

You can find access panels at Home Depot or Lowes through their online store. However, the pricing is typically lower through Amazon or Build.com.


Conclusion

Getting a new access panel might seem like a small feat, but they are many options to choose from. However, with the top choice of the Oatey access panel, you can go straight for the best of the best.

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.

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