How To: Install a Medicine Cabinet
Add beauty and storage to your bath by installing a medicine cabinet. Choose one that is wall-mounted—rather than inset—and the project becomes even more suitable for DIY.
Add storage to your bathroom—and in the process, give the space a jolt of fresh style—by installing a medicine cabinet. Even if you’re new to home improvement, installing a medicine cabinet makes for an excellent do-it-yourself project. That said, the process entails complexities best addressed through a careful, deliberate approach. Read on to learn how to install a medicine cabinet that mounts to the wall (as opposed to being recessed into the space between wall studs behind the drywall or plaster).
To install a medicine cabinet, you’ll need to drill into the walls. Since bathroom walls often conceal a warren of pipes and wires, it’s only prudent to make sure you won’t accidentally disturb any vital conduits of water or electricity (in the worst case, such a mistake could bring about extensive, expensive damage to your home). Stay on the safe side and run an electronic pipe locator over the area of the wall into which you are planning to drill. So long as the “coast is clear”, you can proceed.
Next, position the medicine cabinet flush to the wall, approximately where you are planning to install it. Is the face of the cabinet mirrored? If so, pay close attention to the cabinet height; it should be at eye level. Finally, confirm that nothing (doors, fixtures, etc.) would be obstructed were the cabinet to be permanent.
Having determined the best place in which to install the medicine cabinet, enlist a friend to continue holding it in place. Meanwhile, reach for the spirit level, placing it on top of the cabinet (assuming there’s a ledge; if not, simply hold it against the top edge.) Make minor adjustments until you have gotten the cabinet to be perfectly level, then draw lines where the top and bottom edges of the frame meet the wall.
With your helper still holding the cabinet, open its door (or doors) and find the holes on the rear interior. On the wall, pencil an X-mark to correlate with each one of the installation holes that you identified on the cabinet. For the time being, take the cabinet away from the wall and set it aside at a safe distance.
Look at the hardware that came packaged with the cabinet; outfit your drill/driver with a bit whose size matches that of the hardware; then drill holes in the wall wherever you penciled an X-mark in Step 4. Tread carefully here; if the drilled holes are too large, then chances are the cabinet is going to wobble.
Position the cabinet back on the wall, matching its top and bottom edges to the pencil lines you drew in Step 3. While your helper holds the cabinet, screw the fasteners through each of the holes on the back of the cabinet. Don’t attach them tightly until you are satisfied the cabinet is precisely where you want it.
• Temporarily tape the door (or doors) closed so as to safeguard against damage caused during installation.
• Power tools and moisture don’t mix: Before using the drill/driver, make sure the area is completely dry.
• Don’t worry about the pencil marks remaining visible post-installation. They can be removed via eraser.