Easy DIY: How To Install a Medicine Cabinet

A medicine cabinet is an inexpensive way to create an extra space in the bathroom. Modern medicine cabinets come in a large selection of types and styles easily complementing your home decor.

Make sure that you use the hardware which is provided along with your new medicine cabinet. Also, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before installing a new cabinet. If your medicine cabinet has lights, you may wish to consult a licensed electrician. All electrical connections must meet local and national electric codes. In addition, it is critical that any metal on the cabinet is grounded to prevent electrocution.

Installing a Medicine Cabinet

Surface-Mounted Medicine Cabinets

A surface-mounted medicine cabinet is as easy to install as hanging a mirror, if you follow the rules below:

  • Locate and mark the wall stud locations. A piece of tape or a pencil mark will work. Typically, the studs run every 16 inches along the width of the wall. Use a stud finder and verify the location by driving a small finish nail through the wall finish. Once you find the first stud, the others will be much easier.
  • Hold the cabinet against the wall and position it as needed, making sure it runs over two wall studs for proper anchoring. Use a carpenter’s level and plumb to ensure that the cabinet is leveled at the top and bottom as well as on the sides. Ask somebody to help you hold the cabinet while you’re verifying the bottom and one side of the cabinet. It will make the job much easier.
  • Drive screws through the back of the medicine cabinet into the studs to secure it. Open and close the cabinet door and slightly pull on the cabinet to ensure it is stable.

Flush-Mounted Medicine Cabinets

Measure and mark your wall stud locations before buying a flush-mounted cabinet. In order to avoid removing multiple wall studs, select a cabinet that’s less than 30 inches in width. If you select a wider one plan to increase the cutting and framing as it is described below.

Note: make sure that the heating, plumbing and wiring are correctly connected and work before beginning. If you have any doubts, carefully make a small hole in the wall using a flashlight and a mirror to look around. It’s much easier to patch a hole than to repair the potential damage.

Make sure that the selected wall is not load-bearing before proceeding. If you have any doubts, consult a building contractor or other professionals. Load-bearing walls carry the weight of the entire building and drilling into them is extremely dangerous without special precautions. However, most interior walls are not load-bearing.

  • Position the cabinet as needed keeping it aligned at the sides and top/bottom using a carpenter level. Allow the cabinet to line up with the edge of a stud for easy installation.
  • Score the drywall or other wall covering with a utility knife, along the stud edge, then follow with a reciprocating saw to cut through the wall. Cut back as needed to use the exact stud edge for one side of the cabinet.
  • Draw an outline around the cabinet to mark the remaining edges. Cut and remove the drywall. Cut out the exposed stud level with the top and bottom of the cabinet recess.
  • Frame the opening with 2-by-4 lumber cut to fit between the two remaining studs. Toenail one board at the top of the opening, and another at bottom, between the studs, and nail through the board into the cut stud at the top and bottom. Framing the opening allows the medicine cabinet to rest on the bottom board and provides an anchor for attachment.
  • Run wiring for lighting as needed. For this please follow the product instructions or consult an electrician.
  • Slide the cabinet in place and secure it to the framing with screws after verifying that it is still level and plumb. If it isn’t, cut and shim to adjust it as needed.
  • Trim around the cabinet as necessary to cover rough edges. Use molding or trim pieces and attach with finishing nails.


Don’t stop with just a medicine cabinet. Consider upgrading your bathroom with other simple changes. Adding a large mirror or creating an accent wall with a different color of paint or wallpaper, for instance, will give your bathroom a new look.


2 Responses

  1. This is a good step by step explanation on how to install a medicine cabinet. For the most part would the same hold true if you were installing a wood shelf? A modern look these days is to have wood boards as shelves on walls. I don’t like the look of them being held up from underneath but I like when you can’t tell how they are held up.
    Are there other tips for this?
    Thank you

  2. Nice concepts shared. But its bit difficult to keep these cabinets neat and clean. Since its a place that always get wet. Having the cabinet drilled inside the wall at the time of construction also is a good idea. Doing so saves space and avoid the cabinet being uncomfortably projected outside your toilet door.


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