I have a roughly 6'x6' dead space on my second floor that was previously used to run exhaust pipes for my gas water heater and gas heater on the ground floor. This dead space currently has no access, but it would be handy to be able to get in there because it sits right above the breaker box, and I need to run a couple new electrical lines for a new on-demand water heater that will soon be installed.

The only place where building a door would be possible is in a small closet upstairs. The closet is a bit odd in that it's very short due to being against the roof line. It's like 4ft high at the most.

Since this will be very rarely used and almost never seen, the emphasis is on simplicity of installation and not looks. Is it possible to put some kind of door between the studs in the closet? I am NOT an experienced handyman, so something pre-built and/or simple is highly preferred.

  • Staying between studs would be a tight fit. Is the closet wall in question load-bearing? If not, and the closet itself is wide enough, you could remove a stud, giving you about 30 inches of width for you access door.
    – Doug Deden
    Mar 30, 2021 at 22:14
  • 3
    May not suit code, but a piece of plywood 3" wider than the stud spacing and 3" taller than the opening you cut in the drywall between studs will make an access panel (distinct from "door" in that no hinges, screw/unscrew to use, suitable for infrequent use only.) Code may require a minimum size and the space between studs may not meet that minimum size. It does raise the stakes on losing children to the void from "opening a door" to "using tools to remove a panel." Then again, 36 square feet more closet/storage space might just rate a real door and a light.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 30, 2021 at 22:14
  • @Ecnerwal I think that's the best answer so far, post it as one. Of course, asking what's "best" is opinion based, so this should probably be closed....
    – FreeMan
    Mar 31, 2021 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


I'd recommend a prehung knee-wall door. A prehung door is already on hinges in a door frame. A small 24 x 48 door would be very manageable. You can buy them online in various sizes. I understand you're not an experienced handyman but a small pre hung door would be a fairly easy installation for you and since the door is hidden , if it's not aesthetically perfect - so what? You've learned something.
First of all you have to determine if it's a load-bearing wall. If it isn't, cutting out one stud and framing in the door would be fairly easy and there are plenty of diy Youtube videos on how to do it. If it is a load bearing wall come back to SE with that as a separate question.


They sell spring loaded access panels up to about 24"x24" (see picture below). If that's big enough that will be the simplest option. Simply cut a hole smaller than the panel and you are done.

To cut a hole you have lots of options. The right option is probably a dry wall saw or similar but if you have one an old steak knife will do. When you cut the dry wall be careful not to cut any wires or pipes. One way to do this is to start with a smaller hole so you can reach in with your hand and feel for any wire / pipes you should be aware of.

As others have mentioned you will have studs every 16" (or less) which may limit your options to less than 16" unless you are willing to frame a door.

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