When tiling bath panels, fitters often worry that the tiles could be ruined if the customer ever needs any repairs carried out on the pipes inside the panel.
A wall access panel is ideal for creating concealed access in tiled wall coverings. They are used in a tiled surface to ensure there is access to services behind the bath panel, such as waste pipes and tap fitments. They can also be used on vanity basins where there may be the need to get to pipes and services in the future. There's a variety of different types, so fitters should easily be able to find one that meets all requirements.
They are often used in kitchens, as well. In fact, they can be used anywhere where something's hidden in the wall behind the tiles, which you may need to get to for servicing and maintenance in the future. There are generally two types of access panels; pre-fabricated boxes with hinges, and invisible systems.
The traditional way of tiling on to a piece of wood and then screwing the tiled wood panel to the wall, can leave unsightly screwheads - and if you use grout or silicone around the outside of the panel it never seems to match correctly. Which is why Schlüter-REMA was devised, to create perfectly concealed access panels in tiled walls. Whatever the size and thickness of the tiles, the panel forms an exact match to the overall joint design. It means that access panels for electrical or plumbing work don't spoil the visual appearance of the tiles.
The solution consists of four magnets and four counter-plates. The panel is assembled using the number of tiles corresponding to the opening, held together by attaching a tile to their backs - where the four of them meet -- with silicone or adhesive. Magnets are fixed on to the edge of the wall at the access opening, and counter-plates are fastened to the back of the panel. The panel is simply held in place over the opening, by the magnets.
However, if the opening is substantially larger than 30 cm x 30 cm it may be necessary to install two additional magnets.
If it's likely that access is required very infrequently - just to carry out repairs - you can make the panel totally invisible by sealing around the grout joints with silicone, which just needs to be cut away and replaced each time you want to get in there.
But in commercial applications, where regular access may be needed for service and maintenance, you can use a square section profile such as Schlüter-JOLLY, to create the edge of the panel. You can still see where the panel is, but it doesn't look unsightly at all - the edging profile gives it a nice neat appearance. And it gives far easier access, because it can simply be flipped off for regular maintenance.
There is one very important thing to consider when fitting an access panel -- the installer should definitely tell the customer where the panel is, especially if it's a completely invisible one where silicone's been used in the grout joints.