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Best Drywall Access Panel: Compare Metal, Plastic, and Fiberglass (GFRG)

Updated: Dec 12, 2019



Drywall access panels are typically used for accessing commercial or residential plumbing, HVAC, electrical or cable elements through drywall. They are used to conceal the clutter while providing a safe way of accessing the components of the building or structure.


When shopping for drywall access panels there are many options available. They can be broken into three main categories:

  1. Fiberglass (GFRG) mud-in access panels

  2. Metal access panels

  3. Plastic access panels

In this article we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each type.


Fiberglass (GFRG) Access Panels


GFRG panels are made using reinforced gypsum, which is a nearly identical material to sheetrock itself. That’s why drywall is often referred to as gypsum board in architectural specifications. Fun fact: “Sheetrock” is a trademarked brand of USG.


The biggest benefit to GFRG panels is how invisible they look when installed into drywall. They have no flange and just a minimal joint, allowing for a seamless blend into sheetrock. Gravity fit (Lift & shift) panels are mainly used on ceilings while hinged panels are used in both walls and ceilings. The stealth factor of these panels makes them the number one choice by architects and designers for commercial and residential design specifications.


Features:

  • Installs in ceilings or walls, with standard drywall compound

  • Perfectly smooth surface, panels come filled and sanded

  • 3" frame containing wooden embedments to screw panels into studs

  • Made for 5/8" drywall, can be installed in 1/2" drywall

Pros:

  • Paint finish blends seamlessly with the surrounding drywall

  • Easy to tape into drywall (same material as all the surrounding gyp. Board, installed using standard compound)

  • Most concealed / least visible way to have access through drywall without disturbing the design aesthetic / elements.

  • Many sizes available for custom applications. View all sizes >

  • Are fire rated similar to sheetrock (0 flame spread, 0 smoke developed, and non-combustible, Class A)

Cons:

  • Can be damaged during shipping if not properly protected

Installation: