Introduction: 'Sliding Wall Panels' for Around Hot Water Heater

About: I'm an independent lady who enjoys designing and completing new projects inside and outside my home. Quite satisfying to re use/ recycle and re purpose 'on the cheap' and realize a finished project that starte…

when i replaced my hot water heater the wall at the side of it had to be removed to get the old one out and replace it so rather than rebuild the wall I decided to replace the wall with 2 sliding panels so if in the future I needed to either get in there or even remove the water heater I wouldn't have to take down the wall again plus I can easily slide out a panel when i want to drain the sediment which I do once a month (tip: if you drain a couple pails out each month - part of my month end routine maintenance around the house - the sediment won't build up in your water heater and it'll last longer)

As you can see from the pic my water heater location is in the bathroom next to the toilet and there's not much room.  The new water heater is also a 50 gallon so it's slightly bigger than my previous one so the wall has to also be moved over accordingly

Step 1: Planning Out the Project

so first i did a lot of brainstorming as to how to build a track for these wall panels to slide on???
If you remember back in August I had a whole lot of renovations done..well, thinking of what I have on hand (rather than buying new) plus I'm all about re-use/recycle...I realized if I use 2 pieces of corner trim I could make myself a sliding trim piece by placing one on top the other.
I also have a couple sheets of drywall (1/2" x 4' x 8") so that will work for the panels
I will have to 'bite the bullet' and purchase some trim wood ...Home Depot has 3/4" x 2" x 8' cheap wood on for 1.29 each so I picked up 4 of those...some of it will be used to attach my sliding trim pieces to the subfloor and the rest will be used to brace the back of my panels so they have some support.  I also stopped at the Restore here in town and picked up 2 vents (15" x 7" ea) since I want to vent the water heater sliding walls.
Obviously I will need some drywall screws and some wood screws which I have on hand as well
and paint...lots of that around too

Step 2: Getting Started on the Slider Trim Pieces

so i started by measuring from the wall out as far as the corner of where the 2nd panel will end
The plan is to first slide the left panel into place and then slide the right panel into place afterward.
Be sure to leave enough room to allow for the bracing on the back of the panel to slide next to the panel already in place
I first attached 27.5" piece of 2" x 3/4" to the subfloor using wood screws.  Next I cut same length of the corner trim x 2 .  The other panel will be 30" long so I did the same for the other side of the water heater.
After I got the support piece attached to subfloor I could then attach one piece of the corner trim.  With that completed I next reversed the next piece of corner trim to make my notched out slider trim for each panel

After I finished screwing down the corner trim to make my sliding trim I measured for each panel
66" length x 27.5" and 30"

cut out the wall panels and slid them into place to get a rough fit and make the final measurement

Step 3:

Since the bottom is out a couple inches from where the top sliding trim will sit I will have to shim it enough so that my sliding trim at the top will sit evenly..the plan is to build a small shelf to accomodate for this difference..I can always put some knickknacks up there if I want to later?...more dust collectors really lol

Next I measured exactly and cut down my 2 sliding panels from the 1/2 " drywall
I set them in the track to confirm they fit before beginning on the top support

stopped back to Home Depot and bought  2 U-joint trim pieces to cover the rough edges of drywall sliding panels

measure/screw in shims for the top of panels and install my upper track
(rather than purchase wood I just used wood I had laying around from other renos)
screw it in place and measure for the 2 mini shelves
add the top 2 pieces of drywall for my knick knack shelf

Step 4: Inserting My Vents and Finishing It Off

so I have the 2 vents that I got super cheap at the restore
I just have to lay my panel flat and position my vent where I want it (near the bottom and in front of the venting on actual water heater)
Next I trace around the vent and then get the drywall saw and cut out the pattern
I decided to screw trim pieces of wood on the back of the drywall sliding panels for support (I basically attached trim pieces along the outside length and width) and I also screwed some trim pieces around my vent hole so I can screw the vents in place

I got a corner trim (white) and use it to cover the gap between the 2 sliding panels for works pretty good and covers the gap so Im ok with it for now...maybe I can come up with some other way in future?

**my mudding on mini shelf leaves something to be desired and it looks a bit rough but I plan to re-mud the top shelf area and re-paint when I get motivated

Either way I accomplished what I wanted...what started as an idea ended up being a sliding panel wall that I can move out when I want to

I've since drained the sedament 2x already and it's quite easy to just slide out one panel/drain/slide back into if I ever needed to repair/remove the water heater I wouldn't be faced with removing the wall next time

what are your thoughts?