Ever wondered why access doors are necessary in building construction? You can find them in just about every building and home around, but if you’ve never used one, you may not understand their purpose, placement and ubiquity in the construction world.
Access doors have been used for centuries in building construction. They’ve evolved over time into the white, metal doors we are all at least vaguely familiar with today. To understand more about their past, present and, well… purpose, let’s walk through a quick history lesson!
Access doors were created for security purposes – to protect people and their precious assets. By limiting access to certain areas of a building through the use of doors, our recent ancestors could conceal their valuables as well as the less decorative aspects of their buildings and homes.
Our more primitive ancestors used fabric & curtains, holes in the ground with covers, and small caves covered by rocks. Placing security guards at the mouth of a cave or entrance to an area was another common solution. Thankfully, as we’ve evolved better building techniques, we’ve evolved to a more manageable access solution – the access door.
Access doors were the gateways to spaces that you needed to enter infrequently. Today, they’re used for the same purpose, often concealing plumbing, furnace areas and electrical equipment.
They’re also used for creating an entry space in an area that would have otherwise been sealed off with drywall or floors. Examples include attics, crawl spaces, basements, vaults, and storage spaces.
Due to the needs for and applications of access doors, dozens of access door solutions have emerged in the 21st century. The same door that may be ideal for a crawl space might not be best for a plumbing space. Let’s break down the types of access doors and their ideal use cases.
Unlike other access doors, wall access doors can serve several purposes. These doors give you access to plumbing, pipes, cables, crawl spaces or storage spaces, and as you may imagine, there are dozens of options to fulfill those needs.
Flush access doors are best for walls that have built-in welded trim for extra strength and durability.
Access doors for ceilings can be doors or panels. These access doors are most often used to get into crawl spaces or attics.
An inlaid drywall ceiling door like the one pictured above allow the door to blend in seamlessly with the ceiling.
When you need access to a roof, you want it to be easy. Roof access doors and roof hatches solve that problem. You may need to get onto a roof to access a swamp cooler or to reach other building equipment. In residential applications, a roof access door can even be used to get to a roof patio.
Having a heavy duty weather-resistant roof access door is important for commercial buildings and frequent use. You want a roof door that is durable and won’t rust so that it can last for years without replacement.
Access doors are used to access ducts when they need to be cleaned or repaired. Kitchen and laundry ducts are the most commonly accessed ducts.
This hinged duct access door is an ideal option for getting to small ducts. A full duct panel duct access door, like the one shown below, will give you walk-in access to much larger spaces.
Jacuzzis require regular maintenance, tune-ups and repairs. To perform that regular work, plumbers need a point of access. This is where Jacuzzi access doors come in to help. The big key with Jacuzzi access doors is that they protect working Jacuzzi parts from being exposed to water, which can obviously do serious damage to them.
The best access door for Jacuzzis is an airtight/watertight one to help keep the water away from moving equipment.
Like with Jacuzzis, bathroom plumbing also needs to be accessed so that pipes can be maintained and repaired. Having an access door is important for tub plumbing, too. Watertight access doors are a good bet, but not 100% necessary for bathroom ruse. Other options like an aluminum access door will keep moisture out just fine.
Floor access doors are used for accessing sewage systems, underground pipes, electrical and sometimes storage areas. Since floor access doors have so many use-cases, there are a bevy of different sizes and materials these doors come in.
For most floor access doors, you’ll want to make sure they have a sturdy handle. If they are outdoors you’ll want to make sure they are weather-resistant, like this aluminum floor hatch. If they are indoors, you’ll want to make sure they are flush with the rest of the flooring.
These less commonly used access doors are used to hide cables and fiber optics for media centers. Because these electrical elements are accessed more frequently than say, plumbing, they should be easy to use, lightweight, and durable enough to withstand frequent opening and closing.
Access doors have discretely served our ever-evolving building construction industry for hundreds of years. Whether they’re being used in homes, skyscrapers, or even ground transportation, they’re the silent saviors of contractors, mechanics, and the hands-on professions that make our physical infrastructure run smoothly.