“I have a medicine cabinet that hangs from the wall. I would like to have a recessed cabinet installed instead. Can this be done?”
–J.S., St. Louis
In most cases, this can be done without an enormous amount of work, as long as the wall consists of drywall and not plaster. The main cause of difficulty is if there are electrical lines or plumbing behind the area.
There isn’t a way to know for sure, but there are a few things you could look for in order to be better informed. For example, is there a bathroom directly above this one, with a vanity or toilet in about the same place? If so, the drain stack pipe could be in this area, or plumbing supply lines. Or, if there is a light above the existing medicine cabinet, there could be electrical wiring behind the wall. Electrical wires can be moved out of the way much easier than any plumbing lines.
Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure would be to cut out a hole in the area you want to install the new cabinet, and take a look.
To do this, make a hole directly behind where the existing cabinet is. That way, if you find plumbing that will prevent you from completing the project, the hole can be patched with a rough repair and you can rehang your existing medicine cabinet without having to do a finished drywall repair.
If you find nothing behind the area where the new cabinet will go, then continue to cut out the area for the new cabinet, consulting the directions for the dimensions of the rough cut-out. Chances are, that when you have removed the drywall for this cut-out, you will find a stud running up and down behind the area. You will need to cut this portion of the stud at the top and bottom of your opening. You will then need to create a top and bottom plate where this stud has been cut, essentially creating a “box”, which will surround the new medicine cabinet. Because you previously cut the drywall to the correct opening size, these 2×4’ss can go behind the top and bottom edges of the drywall, so they won’t be seen. When this is done, insert the medicine cabinet, screwing the top and bottom into these 2×4 box you created.
If the medicine cabinet has a mirror, be sure to smile at yourself for a job well done!
Time: 1 ½ hours
Materials: Drywall knife or utility blade, 2×4, drill, screws, sawz-all