A medicine cabinet is a great way to free up space in and on your bathroom vanity. With so many smaller items and products that are necessary in the modern bathroom, a medicine cabinet is a great option for creating space and storage for a much more clean and tidy look.

             Installing medicine cabinets varies in difficulty, but for the most part is relatively painless. We will walk you through the two main styles of medicine cabinet, the wall mounted and the recessed. And, what you will need to do to prepare and install.

Wall Mounted

             What you will need: Measuring tape, Drill, Stud Finder, Pencil, Screws (unless provided with unit), Screwdriver, Drywall Plugs

             To begin, find a place you would like the medicine cabinet to go. Mark the outline of your cabinet on the wall using a pencil, and by measuring the cabinets dimensions. Hopefully during the planning phase backing has been put in by the renovator or builder to accommodate your cabinet, however if this is an existing bathroom or backing was not put in we will need to find and use the studs. Once you have an outline, grab a stud finder and locate a stud within your outline. Mark the stud. Once you have your first stud others should be 16” on center on either side of the stud. Depending on the width of your cabinet, mark more studs accordingly. If your outline is close to another stud that is just outside, consider adjusting your placement of the cabinet to include it.

             With your studs marked, it is time to measure the distances from the edge of your outline to the studs, and then transfer those onto the cabinet itself. Next you will be drilling through the cabinet so you can fasten it to the wall with your screws. Again, the amount of screws you will want to put in will depend on the size of your cabinet. However, a screw in the top bottom and middle in every stud is a great place to start. If the edge of the cabinet is not on or within 4” of a stud, you will need to screw into drywall plugs for added support. Consider having someone help hold the cabinet in place while you screw in the first handful of fasteners.

             Some wall mounted medicine cabinets will have clips on the back side. The same general principles apply to these. You will want to situation them on studs and where not possible, be using drywall plugs for added support. Again, you may want a helping hand to hang the cabinet, as they can be a little finicky to place.

             And there you have it. Not too bad, right? Your cabinet should be nice and tight to the wall. However, if the wall is bowed a little or its not quite snug in some places, feel free to use a caulking gun and the appropriate silicone to run a bead along any sides you want filled, giving it that nice clean look.

Recap

  • Measure cabinet and outline on wall
  • Find and mark studs
  • Transfer measurements to cabinet
  • Drill holes for fasteners in cabinet
  • Secure cabinet to the wall with screws
  • Attach doors if necessary
  • Caulk any imperfections in wall

Recessed

             What you will need: Drill, Screws, Shims, Screwdriver, Caulk/Caulking Gun, Level

             Assuming your recess is finished and measured to your cabinet’s specifications, your tasks are quite simple. If you are looking to do the framing and drywall yourself see below for an advanced guide.

             Lift your medicine cabinet up into the recess and let it sit on the ledge. With your level check to see where you are at for plumb. If adjustments are needed, use your shims underneath to adjust to desired level. Once happy with that, simply screw into the sides of the cabinet and into the studs which will be on either side. Once secured check for any inconsistencies in your wall where it meets your cabinet and if necessary use your caulking gun and appropriate caulk to fill the gaps.

Recap

  • Place cabinet into recess
  • Level and shim if necessary
  • Fasten cabinet to studs through the side
  • Attach Doors/Flange if necessary
  • Caulk any imperfections in wall

Recessed Advanced

             What you will need: Cross-cut saw, Drill, Level, Pencil, Tape Measure, Screwdriver, Stud Finder, Utility Knife, Handsaw/Reciprocating Saw, Level, Shims, Caulk/Caulking Gun, 2x4, Drywall Mud/Spackling, Trowel, Sanding Block.

             Before attempting this job be aware that it is quite complicated and there is a good chance that where you want the cabinet may have electrical or heating/air conditioning vents running through the wall. Be careful when removing the drywall and if you are feeling out of your element, consider a professional.

Begin by deciding where you want your medicine cabinet and outlining it based on its measurements. Use your stud finder to find and mark the studs within your outline. Depending on the size of the flange of your medicine cabinet you will most likely want to cut the drywall about ¼” wider than your cabinet outline. Using a utility knife, score the drywall and begin to slowly cut the drywall out. Pop the screws out using a screwdriver or drill.

Once you have the drywall off, make sure the area within the wall is electrical and vent free. Using a hand saw or reciprocating saw, cut the studs in the area at the same level as your drywall cut-out. Once the studs are cut through be extremely careful and slowly bend and flex the stud so that you do not damage the other side of the wall where screws will be. Be prepared to have to patch potential holes caused by the screws pulling out of the other side of the wall.

Next you will want to measure and cut infill pieces of 2x4 to create your header and ledge. Use a drill to make pilot holes to ease screwing at an angle. Once in place you can use drywall screws to help secure these pieces. Once those are in you can measure and cut your two cripple pieces of 2x4 that will run on either side of your opening.

Finally, place the medicine cabinet into the recess and follow the basic instructions listed above. If the bathroom is being redone or is a new build, it is best to know the dimensions of your cabinet before any work takes place. The framing can be done ahead of time and an appropriate place for it can be better planned.

Recap

  • Mark outline of desired location of cabinet
  • Extend outline ¼” on all sides and cut out drywall
  • Check for any possible interferences
  • Cut studs out even to the cut-out
  • Carefully rock studs out to prevent damage
  • Measure and cut infill pieces of 2x4 to create header and ledge
  • Measure and cut cripple pieces of 2x4
  • Fasten existing drywall to new 2x4 using drywall screws
  • Place cabinet in recess
  • Level and shim cabinet
  • Fasten cabinet to studs through side
  • Caulk any imperfections in wall

Recessed medicine cabinets can be more work than a wall mount, especially if you are using your existing bathrooms framing and drywall. If you are doing a full gut of an existing bathroom or new build construction, planning ahead with the right medicine cabinet, can make a world of difference.