Reportedly frustrated by the options currently on the market, tiling contractor Ashbury Tiles briefed technology supplier IOBAC UK to develop a simple and fast access panel kit that delivers a professional finish without the need for destructive access for maintenance.
Ian Spreadborough, co-founder and director of IOBAC, says: “Concealed access panels enable services such as pipes and fittings hidden behind tiled walls to be accessed for maintenance and repair. They are a common requirement in residential and commercial projects, particularly for bathroom and kitchen areas.
“However, tiling contractors told us that installing tile access panels can be a tricky process. Trying to line up hinges and brackets to get a perfect finish is fiddly, frustrating and can lose precious time on a job. Plus, contractors often must return to site afterwards to open the panel for access.”
In response to Ashbury’s brief, IOBAC developed Ezy-Fit tile access panel kits, a simple access product which the company says can half installation time. The system has been approved by Telford Homes for use at its regeneration project at Nine Elms, comprising some 1,452 rooms.
The product enables access panels to be created in three steps using a two-part system. IOBAC’s magnetic access tabs – small squares which are magnetic on one side and self-adhesive on the other – and compressive crumb rubber packers, which are flexible rubber pads using patented dual-grip technology designed to provide superior hold.
Installers simply peel and stick the adhesive side of the magnetic access tabs to the back of the tile. Then position the rubber packers over the magnetic access tabs, apply tile adhesive to the rubber packer and position the tile over the access void.
The tiles are securely held with the dual grip technology, combining adhesion with magnetic attraction between the magnetic access tab and the rubber packer. When access is needed however, the company says, the tile can be simply lifted away using a suction cup with no mess, broken tiles or bother.
This process does not require any precision hinges or drilling and means installation time is less than half versus traditional methods, IOBAC says. Ezy-Fit is available in two kit formats for bath panels and soil & vent pipes. However, recognising often no two access panel jobs are the same, the tabs and packers can reportedly be adapted for a seamless solution, irrespective of the dimensions of the access void.
The dry-tack rubber packers are said to be super conformable, helping to level and easily adjust tile positioning for a clean finish. Tiles can be grouted for complete invisibility, or edge-sealed with clear silicone.
Installers can cut away the silicone seal and remove the tile using a suction-cup for clean and non-destructive access. There is no need for replacement tiles or return site visits by the tiling contractor, the company says, as access can be gained by trades on-site, or the homeowner.
Having completed work at Nine Elms, Ashbury Tiles has used the product on subsequent projects, stating: “Access panel kits are generally unsightly, costly and time consuming to install. Finally Ezy-Fit offers a solution that works for tilers. It is without question the quickest, cleanest, most simple tile access solution on the market, ideal for our clients’ needs.”
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