How to Install a Medicine Cabinet: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Install a Medicine Cabinet: A Step-by-Step Guide


Installing a medicine cabinet is an excellent way to enhance bathroom organization and aesthetics.

A well-chosen and properly installed medicine cabinet not only optimizes storage space for essentials like medications and toiletries but also helps keep your bathroom tidy and clutter-free.

This guide will provide a comprehensive step-by-step process for installing a medicine cabinet, ensuring that you can accomplish this DIY project with confidence and ease.

Main Content

Step 1: Planning and Preparation

Getting Ready

Assess your needs: Determine what you expect to store in the cabinet to choose the right size and type.

Choose the location: Select a spot that is convenient but does not interfere with bathroom fixtures.

Step 2: Required Tools and Materials

Tools and Materials Checklist

Measuring tape


Stud finder



Screws and wall anchors

Saw (if cutting into the wall)

Safety goggles and gloves

Step 3: Measuring, Marking, and Cutting the Wall

Making Space

Locate and mark studs: Use the stud finder to locate studs in the wall where the cabinet will hang.

Measure and mark the area: According to the cabinet’s dimensions, mark the area on the wall where it will be installed.

Cut the opening: If installing a recessed cabinet, use a saw to cut out the marked area. Ensure the cut is straight and clean.

Step 4: Installing the Medicine Cabinet

Securing the Cabinet

Test fit the cabinet: Before attaching, ensure the cabinet fits snugly into the opening or against the wall.

Secure the cabinet: Attach the cabinet to the studs with screws using a drill. Ensure it’s level before fully securing it.

Step 5: Final Steps and Considerations

Finishing Touches

Apply caulk: If necessary, apply caulk around the edges of a recessed cabinet for a seamless look.

Adjust shelves: Install or adjust the shelves according to your storage needs.

Clean up: Clean the installation area and the new cabinet, then stock it with your bathroom essentials.


With the right tools and a bit of planning, installing a medicine cabinet can be a straightforward and rewarding DIY project.

This addition not only enhances bathroom functionality by providing organized storage but also contributes to a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing space.

Enjoy your new, clutter-free bathroom environment!

Types of Medicine Cabinets

Choosing the right type of medicine cabinet can significantly affect the functionality and style of your bathroom.

The two main types of medicine cabinets are recessed and surface mounted, each offering distinctive features and benefits suited to different needs and bathroom layouts.

Here, we will explore these options to help you make an informed decision.

Recessed Medicine Cabinets

Integrated Elegance

Installation: Recessed medicine cabinets are installed into a cutout in your wall, making them appear as if they are part of the wall itself.

Aesthetic: They provide a sleek, seamless look that can make a small bathroom appear larger by not protruding into the space.

Considerations: Installation can be more complex as it involves cutting into the wall, which might only be suitable for some wall types or if plumbing or electrical lines are in the way.

Surface Mount Medicine Cabinets

Convenient and Versatile

Installation: These cabinets are mounted directly onto the surface of the wall, making installation straightforward and ideal for most bathroom types.

Aesthetic: Surface mount cabinets are easier to install and are perfect for bathrooms with limited wall space or where cutting into the wall is not possible.

Considerations: They protrude from the wall, which can take up more space visually and physically, potentially making a small bathroom feel more cramped.

Choosing Between Recessed and Surface Mount

Making the Right Choice

Size and Style of Your Bathroom: Consider the size of your bathroom and the style you want to achieve. Recessed cabinets often work well in minimalist or modern bathrooms, while surface mount cabinets can be a feature in more traditional or compact spaces.

Installation Requirements: Think about the practical aspects of installation. If you are comfortable with more involved DIY projects or plan to hire a professional, a recessed cabinet might be suitable. Otherwise, a surface mount cabinet might be the better option.

Storage Needs: Evaluate how much storage you need. Recessed cabinets offer more depth depending on the wall cavity, while surface mount models vary widely in size and shape.

Pros and Cons

Weighing Your Options

Recessed Cabinets:

Pros: Sleek look, space-saving, can add to home value.

Cons: More complex installations may require wall modifications.

Surface Mount Cabinets:

Pros: Easy to install, versatile placement, less likely to encounter installation issues.

Cons: It can protrude into the space and has a less integrated appearance.

By understanding these key differences and considering your specific needs and the layout of your bathroom, you can choose the type of medicine cabinet that best enhances both the functionality and aesthetics of your space.

1. Planning and Preparation

Proper planning and preparation are crucial steps when installing a medicine cabinet, especially if you are considering a recessed model. This phase involves careful evaluation of your bathroom’s wall structure to ensure the installation goes smoothly without damaging essential utilities or compromising wall integrity.

Identify the Wall Cavity and Locate the Studs

Ensuring Stability and Safety

Use a stud finder: Begin by using a stud finder to identify the studs on your wall. These will be critical for securely mounting your medicine cabinet.

Mark stud locations: Once you find the studs, mark their locations with a pencil. This will guide you where to drill and help you avoid drilling unnecessarily.

Consider the Positioning of Plumbing and Electrical Lines

Avoiding Potential Hazards

Detect wiring and pipes: Before making any cuts in the wall, use an electronic stud finder that also detects wires and pipes. This will help prevent accidents and costly repairs.

Consult building codes: Check local building codes for guidelines about cutting near plumbing or electrical fixtures.

Evaluate the Wall Framing

Checking Support and Stability

Assess the framing: Look at the structure of the wall to determine if it requires any modifications or additional support. This is especially important for recessed cabinets, which may need a solid frame around the opening.

Plan for modifications: If modifications are necessary, plan them out before beginning the installation. This might include adding framing or adjusting existing structures.

Important Considerations for Placement

Finalizing Location

Height and accessibility: Ensure the cabinet is placed at a comfortable height, generally at eye level or slightly higher, and in a location that doesn’t hinder other bathroom functions.

Available wall space: Choose a wall that provides enough space for the cabinet without crowding other elements. The chosen wall should also aesthetically complement the overall design of the bathroom.

By carefully assessing the wall cavity, considering any obstacles, and ensuring the structural integrity of the wall, you can safely proceed with installing a medicine cabinet that enhances your bathroom’s functionality and style.

This preparation not only helps avoid technical issues during installation but also ensures that your cabinet is both secure and conveniently placed for daily use.

2. Required Tools and Materials

Proper installation of a medicine cabinet requires not only the right tools but also specific materials to ensure a secure and aesthetically pleasing setup.

Below is a detailed list of the necessary tools and materials you will need to effectively install your medicine cabinet, whether it’s a recessed or surface mount model.

Tools Needed

Essential Equipment

Stud finder: This tool is crucial for locating the studs in your wall to ensure the medicine cabinet is mounted securely.

Keyhole saw: Used for making the initial cut-out in the drywall if you’re installing a recessed cabinet. Its pointed tip is ideal for piercing through the wall to start the cut.

Hacksaw blade: Useful for cutting through any small metal or wood obstructions within the wall cavity. A loose hacksaw blade can be maneuvered into tight spots.

Materials Required

Securing and Sealing

Construction adhesive: This will be used to secure the cabinet in place, providing additional stability alongside screws.

Caulk: Necessary for sealing any gaps around the cabinet after installation to ensure a clean, moisture-resistant finish and to prevent mold buildup.

Additional Supplies

Supporting Items

Screws and anchors: Depending on the type of wall and the weight of the cabinet, you may need various screws and wall anchors.

Level: To ensure your cabinet is perfectly horizontal and stable.

Pencil: For marking the wall where cuts will be made and where the cabinet will be installed.

Measuring tape: Essential for accurate placement and spacing.

Safety goggles and gloves: To protect your eyes and hands during the cutting and installation process.

Preparation Tips

Before You Start

Check your tools and materials: Before beginning the installation, verify that all your tools are in good working order and that you have all the materials listed.

Prepare the workspace: Clear the area where you’ll be working, and lay down a cloth or tarp to catch debris, which will make cleanup easier.

Having the right tools and materials prepared and understanding how to use them will greatly facilitate the smooth installation of your medicine cabinet, helping you achieve a professional-grade finish.

3. Measuring, Marking, and Cutting the Wall

Preparing the wall for a medicine cabinet involves precise measurements, careful marking, and accurate cutting.

Whether you’re installing a recessed or surface-mounted cabinet, making sure that your initial preparations are correctly executed will ensure a smoother installation.

Here’s how to accurately measure, mark, and cut your wall:

Measure the Wall Cavity

Ensuring Proper Fit

Determine the size of the cabinet: Measure the height, width, and depth of the medicine cabinet.

Measure the wall cavity: Use a measuring tape to find the exact location where the cabinet will be placed. Consider both the dimensions of the cabinet and the surrounding space for mounting or opening the cabinet doors.

Mark the Outline for the Cutout

Precision and Planning

Marking the area: Use a pencil and a level to outline where you will cut into the wall. Ensuring the lines are level and straight is crucial for a professional-looking installation.

Double-check measurements: Before proceeding, verify all measurements to ensure that the marked area corresponds accurately with the size of the cabinet.

Cut the Drywall

Creating the Opening

Safety first: Wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself from dust and sharp edges.

Using the right tool: Cut along the marked outline with a drywall saw for larger openings or a utility knife for smaller, more precise cuts.

Proceed with caution: Be mindful of any electrical wiring or plumbing behind the wall. Use a hand saw to feel resistance and avoid damaging hidden utilities.

Create a Wood Frame (if applicable)

Adding Support

Assess the need for framing: If installing a recessed cabinet, you may need to create a wooden frame within the cutout to support the cabinet.

Build the frame: Use 2×4 wood to construct a frame that fits snugly inside the cutout. Secure the frame to the existing studs with screws.

Check for stability: Ensure the frame is sturdy and level before proceeding with the installation of the cabinet.

By following these detailed steps for measuring, marking, and cutting, you will prepare your wall effectively for the new medicine cabinet. This preparation is key to a successful installation, ensuring that the cabinet fits perfectly and operates smoothly in your bathroom setup.

4. Installing the Medicine Cabinet

Proper installation of your medicine cabinet is crucial to ensure it is secure, level, and functional. Whether you’re dealing with a recessed or surface mount model, the following steps will guide you through the process of effectively attaching the cabinet to the wall framing.

Attach the Medicine Cabinet to the Wall Framing

Securing the Cabinet

Position the cabinet: Hold the cabinet up to the wall, aligning it with the marks or the frame you’ve prepared. For recessed models, slide the cabinet into the wall cavity.

Level the cabinet: Before securing the cabinet, use a level to ensure that it is perfectly horizontal. Adjust as necessary to avoid a tilted installation.

Secure the Cabinet with Screws

Firm and Stable Mounting

Pre-drill holes: If your cabinet doesn’t have pre-drilled holes, carefully drill holes through the cabinet’s back or side mounting rails. Ensure these align with the wall studs or framing.

Attach with screws: Secure the cabinet by driving screws through the cabinet’s mounting holes into the studs or framing. For best results, use screws that are appropriate for the material of your wall and the weight of the cabinet.

Follow manufacturer guidelines: Refer to the installation instructions provided with your medicine cabinet for specific recommendations on screw type and size.

Double Check Stability and Alignment

Final Adjustments

Check for movement: Gently pull on the cabinet to ensure it is firmly attached to the wall and does not move.

Re-check level: Confirm that the cabinet is still level after all screws have been tightened. Adjust if necessary before the final tightening.

Inspect the finish: Make sure there are no gaps between the wall and the cabinet. If installing a recessed cabinet, you may need to caulk around the edges for a seamless appearance.

Additional Tips

Ensuring Long-Term Durability

Use mounting brackets if provided: Some cabinets come with special brackets or clips for additional support. Use these as directed to enhance the installation’s security.

Consider wall anchors: For surface mount cabinets, if studs are not available where screws need to be placed, use wall anchors that are suitable for your wall material to ensure the cabinet is supported properly.

By carefully following these steps, your new medicine cabinet will be securely installed and ready for use.

This process not only ensures that the cabinet is functional and safe but also maintains the aesthetic integrity of your bathroom design.

5. Final Steps and Considerations

After securely mounting the medicine cabinet, the final steps involve adding the finishing touches that enhance both the functionality and appearance of your installation.

These steps ensure that the cabinet is fully operational, looks polished, and remains durable over time.

Attach the Door to the Medicine Cabinet

Ensuring Smooth Operation

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Carefully read and follow the instructions provided for attaching the door. This may include fitting hinges and ensuring alignment.

Check the movement: Once attached, gently open and close the door to ensure it moves smoothly without any hindrance. Adjust the hinges if necessary to achieve the right alignment and tension.

Install the Shelves Inside the Cabinet

Customizing Storage Space

Adjust to desired height: Place the shelves at the heights that best suit your storage needs. Most medicine cabinets feature adjustable shelf brackets for this purpose.

Secure the shelves: Ensure each shelf is level and securely placed within the cabinet guides. This prevents them from moving or tipping when items are placed on them.

Caulking for a Finished Look

Sealing and Protecting

Prepare the area: Clean the edges around the cabinet to ensure the caulk adheres well. Remove any dust or debris.

Apply caulk: Use a caulking gun to apply a thin bead of caulk around the perimeter of the cabinet where it meets the wall. This seals any gaps and prevents moisture from entering, which is particularly important in bathroom settings.

Smooth the caulk: Wet your finger and smoothly run it along the bead of the caulk to press it into the gap and create a clean, finished look.

Additional Considerations

Final Checks and Cleanup

Inspect your work: Look over the cabinet installation to ensure everything is securely fastened and correctly aligned. Make any necessary adjustments.

Cleanup: Remove any tools and materials from the area and clean up any installation debris. Wipe down the cabinet and the surrounding area to remove fingerprints and smudges.

By completing these final steps and considerations, your new medicine cabinet will not only be securely installed but will also look integrated into the bathroom’s overall design.

This process not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of your bathroom but also ensures the longevity and functionality of the cabinet, making it a valuable addition to your home.


Installing a medicine cabinet is a practical enhancement that significantly boosts bathroom organization and maximizes storage efficiency.

This project not only helps declutter your bathroom by providing a dedicated space for all your health and beauty products but also frees up valuable counter space, making your daily routine more convenient and streamlined.

Key Benefits of a Well-Installed Medicine Cabinet

Enhanced Organization: With a medicine cabinet, every item has its place, making it easier to keep your bathroom tidy and organized.

Increased Storage Space: Medicine cabinets are perfect for storing small items that need to be accessed regularly, keeping them handy but out of sight.

Improved Aesthetics: A well-chosen medicine cabinet can complement your bathroom’s decor, adding to its visual appeal.

Encouragement to Take Action

By following the detailed steps outlined in this guide—from planning and preparation to the final installation—you can confidently install a medicine cabinet that not only looks great but also enhances the functionality of your bathroom.

This DIY project is not just about adding storage; it’s about transforming your bathroom into a more efficient and pleasant space.

We encourage you to take this guide and make it your own. Installing a medicine cabinet is a rewarding project that pays off by creating a more organized, spacious, and enjoyable bathroom environment.

So, grab your tools, follow the steps, and enjoy the improved convenience and style of your new bathroom setup!