Available in a variety of styles, sizes, and finishes, a recessed medicine cabinet can make even the smallest washroom stylish and functional without taking up precious space. A pre-assembled cabinet comes ready to mount for a finished look without a lot of fuss.
This project will help you plan your space, cut an opening in the washroom wall, and build a frame that will support your cabinet. If you have the tools and skill to cut drywall and screw wood together, and the patience to measure carefully, you can install a recessed medicine cabinet in less than a day.
This project uses a pre-assembled cabinet that’s specifically designed to nestle into a wall opening and frame. Before you shop for a recessed medicine cabinet, consider these points:
A recessed medicine cabinet should be one of the last items installed in new construction or a washroom renovation to avoid contact with paint, solvents, cleaners, and other potential hazards.
If at any point you’re unsure of what you’re doing, call a qualified contractor. An hour spent with a pro will save you plenty in time, materials, potential code violations, and future repairs.
1.1 Turn off the electricity in the area where you’ll be working.
1.2 Decide where to place your cabinet. Have a helper hold it against the wall (remove the cabinet door first to avoid damaging the hinges). With a pencil and straightedge, outline the area for the cabinet recess.
1.3 Use a stud finder to locate the first stud beyond either side of your cabinet recess, and any studs that are inside your installation outline.
1.4 Draw vertical lines up the centre of each stud. NOTE: Wall studs are typically spaced 16" apart, centre to centre. Depending on the width of your cabinet, you’ll probably need to cut through at least one stud to clear an opening for your cabinet.
1.5 Mark a cut line that is 3.8 cm (1 ½") outside the top and bottom of your cabinet outline and covers the width of the first studs beyond either side of your cabinet recess. The extra space is necessary for the header and sill at Step 3.
1.6 With a keyhole saw, cut a 4" x 4" hole alongside each stud (staying inside your cut area). Use a flashlight or your fingers to check the wall cavity for obstructions. If you need to remove or relocate wires or pipes, ask a qualified pro for help.
2.1 Use a keyhole saw to cut the opening in the wall. Clear away the drywall and remove any loose debris, insulation, or drywall screws.
2.2 Cut out the studs in your cabinet recess area. Carefully remove the stud pieces so you don’t damage the wall behind your washroom.
3.1 Measure and cut 2" x 4" pieces to frame out the top and bottom of the cabinet opening.
3.2 Level and secure the sill and header pieces between the wall studs. Tip: Drill pilot holes in the sill and header to make it easier to screw them in at an angle.
4.1 Mark the opening width of the medicine cabinet on the header and sill (be sure to centre the opening over the sink). Cut two 2" x 4" studs to fit between the header and sill.These pieces, known as cripple studs, will be the sides of the frame that support your cabinet.
4.2 Plumb the cripple studs, adjust with shims if necessary, and screw them to the sill and header.
Tip: A little insulation can prevent drafty air from finding its way into your washroom. Pack some into the wall before you fit up your cabinet.
5.1 Close the area that will not be used (between the cripple stud and its nearest existing wall stud) with a piece of drywall cut to the appropriate size. Tape and finish the drywall joints.
6.1 Place the medicine cabinet in the opening. If necessary, use shims to level and plumb the cabinet.
6.2 Secure the cabinet to the wall with wood screws (most pre-assembled cabinets have pre-drilled holes).
6.3 Caulk around the edges to hide any irregularities in the wall.
6.4 Install the cabinet door, shelves, and hardware. And then stock your new cabinet.
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