Looking around the bathroom, you’re sure to find clutter of all sorts, whether it be hair care products, makeup or jewelry. In order to keep these items neatly stored in one central location, it’s beneficial to have a medicine cabinet installed in the bathroom. Whether updating an old cabinet or starting from scratch, there are hundreds of medicine cabinets to choose from that not only look decorative, but also keep items within arms reach.

Medicine cabinets can be purchased from home improvement stores or online. The advantage to purchasing them in-store is that you can see a display of the cabinet to ensure that it matches what you’re looking for. Shopping online however, guarantees a wider selection at more competitive prices. For a basic medicine cabinet, expect to spend $50 or more, while elegant name-brand models can cost more than $300.

There are three main shapes of medicine cabinets on the market: arched, rectangular or oval. They are made in a variety of materials such as oak, maple, plastic, chrome, nickel or aluminum. You will find that most models of medicine cabinets come with a beveled or plain mirrored door that swings or slides open. They have adjustable shelves to make storing different sized items easy. Lights are another feature that can be added to medicine cabinets, as well as additional outlets, toothbrush holders or side mirrors. Perhaps most important is deciding which type of medicine cabinet to install.

Surface Mounted vs. Recessed Medicine Cabinets

There are two types of medicine cabinets to choose from: a surface-mounted cabinet and a recessed cabinet. A surface-mounted cabinet can be mounted on the wall and is easy to install. It requires few tools and can be hung virtually anywhere you want it to, including bathrooms, home offices or hobby rooms. Recessed medicine cabinets are anchored into the wall, with only the mirror being seen. These cabinets are sleek looking, but are harder to install and only possible in certain areas.

Before choosing which type of medicine cabinet you would like, first consider where you are going to install the cabinet. If you want to keep this project budget-friendly, hanging a surface-mounted medicine cabinet is best, as this only requires a few simple tools. These cabinets are also ideal if you’re looking to cover up a spot where a mirror once hung. Yet if you are looking for something sleek and modern, a recessed cabinet may be for you.

Installing a Recessed Cabinet

Recessed cabinets have a sleek and modern appeal, which is why they have gained in popularity amongst homeowners. Although they have a nice design, recessed medicine cabinets can only be installed under certain conditions. While they are easiest to put in when the walls are stripped down, they can also be installed into an existing wall. The trick is that you must be able to see inside the wall to check for obstructions.

In order to see into the wall, first choose where you would like to hang the medicine cabinet. To start, make sure the top of the medicine cabinet is 72 inches off the floor. You can then adjust the height of the cabinet as you see fit. Once you’ve found your spot, use a stud finder to locate a stud in the wall. Once found, cut small holes on both sides of the stud to look for any obstructions, such as pipes or electrical wires. If there are things in the way, it’s possible that some of these obstructions may be able to be rerouted, but this would need the attention of a professional plumber or electrician. In these cases, it’s best to install a surface-mounted cabinet instead.

If however, you have the ideal location for a recessed medicine cabinet, trace the outline of the cabinet onto the drywall. Cut out the opening using a drywall or reciprocating saw. What you should see is a big hole in the wall, with a stud going through the middle. Cut through the stud in two spots, one near the bottom and one near the top of the cabinet opening. Be sure not to cut into the drywall. Remove the stud.

Install the blocking for the medicine cabinet by sliding 2×4 horizontal strips into the sides of the opening. To secure them in place, use a construction adhesive and screw in drywall screws. Once the adhesive is dry, you can install the inside of the cabinet by fitting it into the cutout and making sure it’s even against the wall. Secure it using drywall screws and attach the mirror.

Installing a Surface-Mounted Cabinet

If choosing to install a surface-mounted medicine cabinet, the process is much easier. Measuring 72 inches from the floor to the top of the medicine cabinet, mark both the top and bottom of where the cabinet will hang. Locate the pre-drilled holes in the back of the cabinet and mark where these will be on the wall. Find one stud within this area and mark it as well. Using wood screws, mount the cabinet to the studs and be sure that they are tightened. If you cannot find studs, use toggle bolts instead.

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