How to Replace a Bathroom Medicine Cabinet

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If you're seeking a new look for your bathroom, replacing the medicine cabinet may be all you need to do. Replacing the cabinet is a simple process if the cabinet is a surface-mount or is the same size built-in as the one you're taking out. If you're upgrading a built-in to a bigger size, then you have some extra work to do. Depending on the installation, the project can take from a half-hour to three hours with just a few household tools.

Things You'll Need

  • New medicine cabinet Screwdriver 2-by-4 boards Nails Wood glue Utility knife Hack saw blade Rags Pneumatic nailer
  • Remove the old cabinet by unscrewing it from the inside back if it is a surface-mount or the sides if it's a built-in model.

  • Install the new cabinet (surface-mount or same-size built-in). If it is a surface-mount, the holes in the wall should be in at least one stud. Use that stud and another if the cabinet reaches to another. If not, use an anchor or a molly bolt for the other side. If the cabinet is built in and is the same size as the one you took out, just screw the new one into the studs on the sides through pre-drilled holes.

  • If the built-in cabinet is larger than the one you're taking out, you will have to expand the frame inside the wall. Take out the sides of the frame by cutting the top and the bottom with a hacksaw blade to cut through any glue or nails. Wrap the end of the blade in a rag so it doesn't cut your hand. With the sides out, you can see what you need to do to reframe the wall for the cabinet. There can be many scenarios once you open the wall. If you run into a stud and this is a load bearing wall, don't cut it. Either hire a professional carpenter or use a surface-mount cabinet. Another problem that can stop you is plumbing. In this case, have a plumber move the plumbing or use the surface-mount cabinet. If it is not a load-bearing wall, you can cut it out of the way.

  • Measure for the new cabinet, and using a laser level, draw the outline on the drywall for cutting. Cut the drywall with a utility knife. Cut out the stud if there is one, otherwise cut 2-by-4 boards for your frame. Cut the horizontal framing to go from stud to stud. The vertical framing should be cut to the height of the cabinet.

  • Put wood glue on the ends of the horizontal studs and put in the top one. Hold in place until the glue holds it. Repeat with the bottom stud. Reach in and toenail the framing into the existing studs with a pneumatic nailer.

  • Nail in the vertical framing studs. Place the medicine cabinet in the wall and screw through the sides into the new framing. Install the door to the cabinet if it didn't come already installed.

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  • Photo Credit Gavin Renwick
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