Home Improvement: Replace A Medicine Cabinet

Replacing your medicine cabinet can dramatically update your bathroom. Learn how to choose your new cabinet and install it yourself with these tips and instructions.

Has your bathroom become too cluttered or outdated? A new medicine cabinet may be just what you need. Replacing your medicine cabinet can dramatically update the look and convenience of your bathroom, and it's a job you can do yourself.

Selecting your new medicine cabinet:

Medicine cabinets come in a variety of sizes and styles. Before you go shopping, make the selection process easier by answering the following questions:

Do I want a different sized cabinet? If clutter has become a problem in your bathroom, you may want to replace your old cabinet with a larger one. If your bathroom is small and the old cabinet looks and feels cumbersome, you may want to switch to a smaller size.

What style door do I want? If your cabinet hangs over the sink, you will undoubtedly want a mirrored door. These doors are made with a single mirror or with sections of mirror that each open individually. Some doors are hinged, some slide. If your cabinet is not over the sink, you will have many other door styles to choose from. Consider your current bathroom decor so you can choose a door that will coordinate in color and design. Also consider buying a locking door if children will have access to it.

What is my price range? If you are on a tight budget, plan to look for a new cabinet at a major retailer or large home improvement store. If you want to pay for a custom look or a specific type of wood, plan to make your purchase from a cabinet shop or unfinished wood store. A large variety of cabinets are also available online.

Hanging your new medicine cabinet:

Your first step is to remove the old cabinet.

Empty out your cabinet, properly dispose of any old medicines or health and beauty products, and take out any removable shelves. If your old cabinet is a flush-mounted cabinet (one that is hung directly on the wall surface), use a pencil or chalk to trace around the cabinet. Then, either have someone hold onto the cabinet or use a brace as you remove the screws. If your old cabinet is recessed (set into the wall), take out any screws and pull the cabinet out of the wall. If the cabinet is partially recessed, there may be molding around the cabinet that needs to be removed before taking it out.

Your next step is to prepare your wall.

If your new cabinet is the same size as the old one, simply mark your studs above and below the lines you traced in step one. If your new cabinet is a different size, mark a line for the top of your cabinet. Make sure the line is level. You can use the traced lines from step one as a reference point. Above your line, mark the location of your studs. If you are changing from a recessed cabinet to a flush-mounted cabinet, simply fill the wall opening with insulation and mark a top line and stud locations. You will need to patch and paint your wall if your new flush-mounted cabinet is exactly the same size or smaller than the old recessed one.

Your final step is to hang the new cabinet:

For a flush-mounted cabinet, use a brace or another person to hold your cabinet in place, and drive in mounting screws. It's best to put a screw near each corner of the cabinet. Drive each screw into a stud if possible. Where no stud is available, use toggle-screws. For a recessed cabinet, slide the cabinet in place and drive a screw near the top and bottom of any side that sits against a stud.

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