This project explains how to install a bauco softline access door in the “wet wall” for shower and bath plumbing maintenance. This project is continued from How to Install a bauco softline Access Door – Part 1.

How to Install a bauco softline Access Door

A couple of years ago, my 2nd floor shower developed a leak and it was necessary to cut a hole in the drywall to trace the leak. I didn’t know about the bauco softline access panels at the time and covered the drywall hole with an air return grille. I’m pleased to upgrade the air return grille to a 10 inch by 18 inch bauco softline access door, model #30-1018-TL for better appearance and easy access. The taller bauco softline will also make easy to reach the shower valve. I chose the 10 inch wide bauco softline because it fits well between the 2×4 wall studs set on 12 inch centers.

bauco softline Access Panel for Shower Plumbing Maintenance

bauco softline Access Panel for Shower Plumbing Maintenance

The false grill is removed to reveal the opening that was previously cut in the drywall:

Shower Plumbing: Remove the False Air Return Grille

Shower Plumbing: Remove the False Air Return Grille

Measure and Mark the Rough Opening

Per the bauco softline sizing and dimensions chart, the rough opening for the 10 inch wide by 18 inch tall bauco softline is 10-1/4 by 18-1/4 inches. In other words, the rough opening is 1/4 inch greater than the access panel width and height, respectively. Also see the bauco softline product binder for installation details.

I measured and marked the 10-1/4 in. by 18-1/4 in. rough opening dimensions on the drywall using a tape measure and carpenter’s spirit level, taking care to the lines plumb (vertical) and level (horizontal).

bauco softline Drywall Installation: Measure & Mark the Rough Opening

bauco softline Drywall Installation: Measure & Mark the Rough Opening

Rough opening dimensions marked in pencil on the wall paper/drywall:

bauco softline Access Panel: Mark the Rough Opening Dimensions

bauco softline Access Panel: Mark the Rough Opening Dimensions

I like to verify for “square” after drawing boxes with a spirit level to check for mistakes. I checked all four corners of the rough opening and it was nice and square. You only get one chance at sawing a hole in drywall right the first time!

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Check the Rough Opening for Square

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Check the Rough Opening for Square

Saw the Drywall Rough Opening

I used my 6″ Stanley FatMax® Jab saw to saw the rough opening in the drywall, starting with the bottom section first:

bauco softline Access Panel: Sawing the Drywall Rough Opening

bauco softline Access Panel: Sawing the Drywall Rough Opening

I made the left and right saw cuts, then worked the sharp tip of the FaxMax jab saw in the top right corner to make the final top cut. Support the drywall cutout with a hand so it doesn’t prematurely tear out leaving a ragged hole.

Sawing the Drywall Rough Opening with a Stanley FatMax® Jab saw

Sawing the Drywall Rough Opening with a Stanley FatMax® Jab saw

The completed drywall rough opening for the bauco softline access door. Aside: The water stains on the drywall and green patina on the copper pipes are from that shower head leak a couple of years ago. Everything is completely dry now.

bauco softline Access Panel: 10-1/4" x 18-1/4" Drywall Rough Opening

bauco softline Access Panel: 10-1/4″ x 18-1/4″ Drywall Rough Opening

bauco softline Access Panel Test Fit

I set the bauco softline model #30-1018-TL access panel in the drywall rough opening to check the fit. It was perfect and looks great!

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Test Fit in the Drywall Rough Opening

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Test Fit in the Drywall Rough Opening

I was eager to see how much room I’d have with the door open. Now I can reach both the shower/bathtub drain and the shower valve.

bauco softline Access Panel: Open Door

bauco softline Access Panel: Open Door

bauco softline Mounting Blocks

Old work construction may have minor complications and my situation was no different. The problem is the 2×4 wall studs have a twist and get narrower towards the shower. Instead of wasting a lot of time making tedious measurements and possibly wasting lumber, I used pieces from a cardboard box to make templates for sawing the mounting cross blocks between the 2×4 wall studs. I used scissors to trim the cardboard templates to fit between snugly between the twisted walls studs.

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Measuring for the Mounting Blocks

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Measuring for the Mounting Blocks

In the next photo, I sawed 2×4 (bottom) and 2×2 (top) cross blocks on my DeWALT miter saw to fit between the wall studs per the dimensions of my cardboard templates. It was necessary to cut notches in the drywall to slide the mounting blocks between the studs and into position. No worry here because the wide flange of the bauco softline will more than cover the drywall notches.

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Fitting the Mounting Blocks

bauco softline Access Panel Installation: Fitting the Mounting Blocks

The bauco softline mounting cross blocks are slipped into position even with the edge of the drywall rough opening to check the fit. Now you can see why I used that white piece of 2×2 lumber (scrap left over from my porch rail project) due to limited clearance with the shower head valve and copper pipes:

bauco softline Access Panel: Mounting Block Installation

bauco softline Access Panel: Mounting Block Installation

This project is concluded in How to Install a bauco softline Access Door – Part 3.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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