Home Improvement--General/Hidden door


Soffit around drain pipe
Soffit around drain pi  
Another angle
Another angle  

I'm in the process of soffiting around my waste pipe in the basement and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions as to how to have access to the waste pipe coming through the basement wall.  I'd rather not do an access panel (I know that would be the simple way to go).  The area I'm building out is 16" from the wall and about 3 feet across.  It is a 10 foot foundation as I thought I could do some paneling over it but they don't come in 10' sheets.  I was thinking of doing wainscoating around the bottom of that area where the wall comes out and was wondering if I could get ideas on how to do a hidden door for access?  Also what to place on the inside in case it did need to be accessed that the drywall will not get ruined.  Thanks for your advice.


I'm a little unclear about what you're doing here.  Is the soffit going to be drywall or paneling?  What drywall will potentially get ruined, and how?  Why would the door need to be hidden?  

If you are going to install something over this area that is different than everything around it, then you have a ton of options.  If you want it to "disappear" then you have fewer options.

If you can, please clarify and I'd be glad to offer some suggestions.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry about the confusion.  The soffit just covers the waste pipe that runs along the ceiling the length of the basement.  You just catch a glimpse of it in the upper corner of one of the pics.  What I'm building the wall around is where the pipe exits the house and goes out to the septic tank which is in the pic.  The whole wall is drywall as this is an ICF foundation.  If this was in a mechanical room or the utility room I would not worry about it.  It is right where our living area in the basement will be which is why I wanted something hidden.  The soffit running the length of the basement will be drywall as will the sides of the wall around where the discharge pipe protrudes from the wall.  

If I had to do something other than drywall I'd be up to suggestions.  I'd rather have plenty of access to the pipe that runs to the septic in case they need to get at it.  Since the wall where the pipe runs through the foundation is already drywalled, I didn't want it getting wet in case we have a clog somewhere and they need to take the cap off the pvc that leads to the septic.  Let me know if you'd like different pics or more info.

A couple of things.  First off, when you have living space in a basement, often it can be best just to admit (from a design perspective) that you're actually in a basement.  Basements have features, like pipe runs, that upper levels don't.  And access hatches and weird soffits are pretty much perfectly acceptable in basements.

I would install a standard 1'-8" x 6'-8" flush wooden door with no trim, just a small 3/4" batten strip around the perimeter to mask the joint between door jamb and drywall.  Order it without any hardware boring, and use a magnetic catch.  Paint the whole assembly to match the wall.  

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Steve Major (Owner - Major Design Group)


I can answer any questions regarding the design and execution of home improvement and remodeling. This includes trade-specific questions (how-to) in all major building trades: framing, foundations, site prep, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, water treatment, interior finishing, trim & cabinetwork, exterior finishing, roofing, siding. PLEASE indicate your state or region, so I can provide the best possible answer. PLEASE provide photos whenever possible.


30 years experience in home improvement design and construction, all hands-on, including the construction of dozens of single-family homes and hundreds of remodeling projects in the northeastern US.

Author: "Architectural Woodwork - Details for Construction" published by Van Nostrand Reinhold (now Wiley).

BS -- Cornell University

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