How to Install a Medicine Cabinet

In five easy steps, you’ll have a way to organize everything in your bathroom

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated June 21, 2022
woman taking beauty product from cabinet
Photo: Tinatin / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Simple

Saturday skill builder.

Time to complete

1 hour

Cost

$50-$100

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil to mark area
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver

SUPPLIES

  • Medicine cabinet
  • (Optional) Drywall anchors
  • (Optional) Toggle bolts
  • (Optional) Hammer

Adding a medicine cabinet to your bathroom doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use it for medicine. This fixture adds extra storage for you to stow away items such as toothpaste and deodorant—not to mention it can add a stylish touch to the room, too. You’ll find installing a medicine cabinet yourself can help you save money on bathroom remodels down the road.

There are two common types of medicine cabinets: a surface-mounted medicine cabinet and a recessed mount medicine cabinet. Because of the difficulty of installing a recessed medicine cabinet, which fits into your wall, we’ll show you how to install a surface-mounted medicine cabinet, which sits on the surface of the wall. For recessed cabinets, it’s best to hire a handyperson service near you.

5 Steps to Installing a Medicine Cabinet

  1. Find Studs

    Using stud finder on a wall
    Photo: deviddo / Adobe Stock

    The first step to installing your new medicine cabinet is to find the studs. Studs are wooden posts in your walls that will help support items like your new cabinet. They anchor hanging items down so they don’t randomly fall off the wall in the middle of the night (looking at you, Casper).

    If you don’t have a stud finder, you can try using the magnet trick, where you run a magnet along the wall until it sticks to the nails in the studs. Keep in mind that you will not be drilling where the magnet is but rather below or above to avoid damaging the studs.

  2. Measure and Outline the Cabinet

    This next step is where your partner comes in. While one of you holds the cabinet, the other will use the pencil to outline the cabinet. Outlining the cabinet gives little room for guesstimation and ensures you screw in the cabinet without being lopsided.

    Ideally, the left and right sides of the medicine cabinet will line up with a stud on each side. If you only have one stud available, try to have at least one side attached to the stud. This setup shouldn’t be an issue in most instances, as medicine cabinet holes are typically 16 inches apart, which is also the standard spacing between studs.

    From here, you’re going to use your measuring tape to see how far apart the medicine cabinet’s drill holes are from each other. You’ll want to measure how far the drill holes are from the corners of the cabinet as well. With these measurements, you’ll then mark where the holes will go on the wall.

  3. Drill the Holes

    Drilling hole in a wall with electric drill
    Photo: Bolesaw / Adobe Stock

    Once you’ve noted where the cabinet’s pre-drilled holes are on the wall, you’re then going to drill holes in the wall. You don’t want the holes to be too large, so err on the side of caution and make sure the holes are snug to give the screws more support.

  4. (If No Studs) Install Drywall Anchors or Toggle Bolts

    Closeup of a hand installing drywall anchor
    Photo: Evgeniya / Adobe Stock

    If there are no studs available in the wall, you’re not out of luck quite yet. Instead of drilling into the studs, you will use drywall anchors. Drywall anchors are split into weight categories, so ensure you pick the drywall anchor to support the weight of the medicine cabinet. Drywall anchors are going to go into the pilot holes you drilled.

    And if no drywall anchors support the weight of the cabinet, then you can opt for toggle bolts. Toggle bolts split open once they’re passed drywall, creating a large amount of support for the cabinet. For toggle bolts, you’ll be installing them in the pre-drilled holes.

  5. Install the Surface Medicine Cabinet

    For those working with studs, you’re not going to need to worry about the extra pieces. Instead, you’ll have your partner hold the medicine cabinet in place while you put in the screws. The screws will go through the pre-drilled holes and screw into the stud itself.

    For Drywall Anchors

    For drywall anchors, you’re going to install the anchors into the pilot holes you drilled earlier. Your partner will then hold up the medicine cabinet, and you’ll check to see that the anchors line up with the pre-drilled holes. If everything lines up, take the screws and screw through the pre-drilled holes in the cabinet into the drywall anchors.

    For Toggle Bolts

    Toggle bolts will start in the cabinet first, and you’ll then have your partner line up the cabinet with the holes you drilled. You’re simply going to push the toggle bolts into the holes you drilled, and the toggle bolt will open, creating the support needed for the medicine cabinet. If the cabinet is stubborn, you may need to use a hammer to tap the toggle bolts past the holes.

    Once the toggle bolts are firmly in place, use the screwdriver to tighten the bolt. Finish off by securing the washer and bolt inside the cabinet.

    For Recessed-Mounted Medicine Cabinets

    Recessed-mounted medicine cabinets require sawing into the drywall. It takes one wrong cut for your wall to become unsightly and unusable, and there’s also the potential danger of affecting the wires and plumbing behind the wall, which is dangerous.

    It’s best to hire a local handyperson for recessed-mount medicine cabinets to ensure you don’t need to pull the first-aid kit out of your new cabinet already.

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