Any commercial building needs to be built with the proper materials, components, and systems to ensure structural integrity and functionality. Electrical, plumbing, fire protection, insulation, ventilation, and HVAC systems are among the integral networks that make up a building – but how can each component become secured and easily accessed?
Unlike conventional doors or entryways, the purpose of an access door is fundamentally different and is more similar to that of a wall panel. While most contractors and workers prefer to call this specialized door “access panels,” its main functionality remains the same.
However, due to its limited functionality, some business owners generally ignore the purpose of access doors, thinking that it’s optional. But what exactly are access doors, and how can they contribute to a building’s security and overall improvement?
What is an Access Door?
Access doors essentially provide an efficient and convenient passage point for fixtures, ducts, valves, pipes, wires, and other utilities installed behind walls, floors, and ceilings. They have a recessed keyhole or slot for a locking mechanism that will activate its latch release. This feature allows the panel to blend with the surface installed, providing seamless furnish and uninterrupted foot traffic.
While the main functionality of an access door is to provide access, recent technological advancements allowed manufacturers to improve its versatility and features to cater to specific needs. You can take advantage of panel doors to secure personal items and valuables, prevent water and gas leaks, and even provide superior soundproof insulation. Due to these new functionalities, access doors are now available with many materials, finishes, latches, and insulation levels.
The options now seem virtually endless; that is why it is crucial to look past the variety of options available and understand what you need, identify applicable building regulations, and their purpose.
Choosing the suitable material for your access door is as equally important as identifying its primary purpose. Suppose you will install it outdoors, in a high place, or near thermal elements at risk of fire. In that case, it’s especially vital to select a material that can withstand harsh conditions without sacrificing your building’s aesthetic and safety.
1. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is known to be incredibly durable and aesthetically pleasing. It provides maximum security for safes and expensive equipment and installs high visible and external areas exposed to corrosion and extreme temperatures. Additionally, stainless steel is not thermally nor electrically conductive, making it ideal for HVAC, electrical wiring, and generator applications.
2. Galvanized Steel
Although slightly less durable than stainless steel, galvanized access doors are known to be scratch, weather, and corrosion-resistant due to their protective zinc coating. However, be mindful of its zinc protection because it will eventually wear off.
On the other hand, aluminum is generally the least expensive, most lightweight, and most accessible to install among these three access door materials. Aluminum panel doors feature an inlaid drywall system that resists moisture, preventing mold and mildew buildup in indoor plumbing fixtures or outdoor areas exposed to precipitation. If stainless steel isn’t necessary, aluminum is an unparalleled choice due to its cost-effectiveness and easy installation and maintenance.
Size and Location
Ideally, the installed access door must be large enough to allow access to every area and surface that needs to be maintained or repaired. Sufficient hand access ranging from 6″ x 6″ to 12 “x 12” are suitable for fuse boxes, motors, safes, and other small installations. Assessing the installation area or surface is also necessary to ensure that the door fits tight and the surface opening has enough space for it.
While access doors generally function as access points, their extremely versatile components integrate stucco or drywall construction and serve as a flush panel in ceiling tiles or floorboards. Due to the specific needs of building owners, manufacturers have developed access doors to support particular requirements without creating additional hazards or expenses.
Other panel doors have ventilating properties allowing for indoor air quality, temperature regulation, and humidity buildup. Some can seal and insulate, preventing outdoor elements from entering indoor spaces. The general idea is that every access door has specific functionality to be adequately assessed to ensure maximum use.
There are several types of access doors with different purposes, but the following types are the most commonly used:
- Fire-Rated Access Doors: This door helps prevent and regulate extreme heat from spreading as it can withstand flames and smoke for a specific amount of time. Knowing its fire rating, you can identify the maximum temperature that a fire-rated door can handle and how long it can withstand such conditions. Due to the hazardous nature of fire, you must follow the proper regulations and fire-safety requirements to ensure safety for your business and your tenants or employees.
- Drywall Access Doors: As the name suggests, this type of access panel provides convenient access to wires, insulation, pipes, and ducts installed inside the wall.
- Security Access Doors: If your business or building project needs additional security, you can rely on security access panels to provide medium-grade or heavy-duty security, as well as maximum protection. This door is ideal for hospitals, banks, and correctional facilities to ensure an extra layer of defense for essential equipment and secured access points.
Once you have identified and assessed all these critical components in choosing the right access door, you should purchase the ideal product for your specific needs. It will also make a difference if you deal with a reputable supplier that can provide you with quality access panels and peace of mind knowing that you are dealing with an expert in the field, such as Best Access Doors.
When it comes to building projects, selecting high-quality and durable products is highly beneficial. Understanding the many uses of access doors will help you and your contractor make the right choice. While choosing a brand or quality is essential, understanding even their basic functionalities and features are incredibly helpful for your business in the years to come.