Lowe's Home Improvement
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Install a Mirrored Medicine Cabinet and Vanity Light

Add style and function to your bathroom with a new mirror and vanity light. Mirrors and lights come in a variety of styles from traditional to contemporary. Both projects are great for the DIYer.

Tools & Materials

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Types of Mirrors

Medicine Cabinet.

Surface-Mount Mirror — flat mirror that is usually adhered to the wall with adhesive, clips, or cleats. This is the easiest to install.

Surface-Mount Mirrored Cabinet — mounts to the surface of the wall with screws.

Recessed Mirrored Cabinet — fits inside a recess in the wall. This is a more advanced installation if you don’t already have a recess.

The easiest installation is to replace your old mirror with the same type of mirror. You can install a different type, but keep in mind you’ll have to make a few repairs to the wall. Then follow the specific instructions for installing your new type of mirror.

Good to Know

Before you select a recessed cabinet, make sure you install it in the wall. Watch or video: What's Inside My Wall?

Remove a Surface-Mount Mirror (glued to wall)

Step 1

Applying Packing Tape to the Mirror.

First, cover it with heavy-duty packing tape as a precaution against the glass cracking or shattering.

Step 2

Inserting Wooden Shims Behind the Mirror.

Insert wooden shims between the mirror and the wall. Use a hammer to tap them snug, but don’t force them beneath the glass.

 

Good to Know

Use a heat gun to loosen the glue.

Step 3

Prying the Mirror from the Wall.

With another shim beneath your pry bar to protect the wall, gently begin working the bar behind the glass. Maintain a steady pressure and listen for the drywall paper tearing loose from the wall. It’s ok for the paper to tear. Gently work along the top and sides of the mirror, releasing a little bit at a time.

Step 4

As you near the bottom of the mirror, have someone hold the top so it doesn’t fall.

Step 5

Taking Down the Mirror.

Once loose, gently carry it away from the bathroom. If you plan to reuse the mirror, protect it from accidental damage.

Step 6

When the mirror is off, you’ll need to repair the drywall. Scrape away any adhesive residue on the drywall using a putty knife. With a utility knife, score a circle only through the drywall paper around the damaged area and peel off loose drywall paper within the circle. This eliminates any leftover adhesive and paper that might have pulled loose from the gypsum underneath. Also, it helps the completed patch blend with the surrounding area.

Step 7

Sand around the scored area. Quickly brush on a light coat of primer over the damage, let dry, and sand smooth. Avoid saturating the area over the exposed gypsum.

Step 8

Applying Drywall Patch.

Apply several thin layers of drywall patch with a 6 inch drywall taping knife, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next. Sand the patched area smooth with the surrounding wall and apply a coat of primer to the patch. Now you’re ready to paint the patched area and the rest of the wall.

Install a Surface-Mount Mirror

Mirrors can be heavy, so find a helper to lift and position a mirror that's too large to handle alone.

To position your mirror, first mark the outline on the wall with a pencil or painter’s tape. You can also use cardboard to cut out a silhouette of the mirror. Any of these techniques will allow you to easily make adjustments to the placement.

The cabinet will be more stable if attached to a stud. Watch our video: How Do I Find a Wall Stud?

Step 1

To support a mirror in position while the adhesive dries, use screws to attach a straight piece of removable scrap wood to the wall, with the top edge even with where you want the bottom of the mirror. If you have a tile wall or other surface that can't be screwed or nailed, and there's a vanity underneath, measure from the top of the vanity to the bottom edge of where the mirror will go. Then cut spacers to that length and rest them on the vanity.

Step 2

Apply evenly spaced spirals of mirror adhesive around the back of the mirror according to the manufacturer's directions. Avoid using general-purpose construction adhesive to hang a mirror. You need a formula that won't weaken or dissolve the reflective coating on the back.

Step 3

Place the mirror in position starting at the bottom, tilt the top up against the wall, and press gently but evenly around the mirror. You might want a helper to assist you. Use painter’s tape at the top of the mirror to hold it in place while the adhesive dries.

Step 4

Once the adhesive dries, remove the board and patch the holes. Sand smooth, prime, and paint.

Remove a Surface-Mount Mirror (screwed to wall)

Step 1

Lifting the Mirror from the Wall.

Lift the mirror off of the wall. If it's attached to the wall by metal clips, lift the mirror up then out at the bottom to remove it.

Step 2

Remove the screws from the cleat or clips on the wall.

Step 3

If necessary, patch any drywall damage. Sand smooth, prime, and paint.

Install a Surface-Mount Mirror

Mirrors can be heavy, so find a helper to lift and position a mirror too large to handle alone.

To position your mirror, first mark the outline on the wall with a pencil or painter’s tape. You can also use cardboard cut to the mirror dimensions. Any of these techniques will allow you to easily make adjustments to the placement.

Step 1

Most new mirrors come with cleats to make hanging easy. Position the mirror where you want it on the wall and mark it.

Step 2

Set the mirror aside and mark where to hang the cleat on the wall.

Step 3

Drill the holes. For holes not in line with studs, use wall anchors. Then hang the cleat with screws. Hang the mirror and make any adjustments if necessary.

Remove a Surface-Mount Mirrored Cabinet

Step 1

Removing the Shelves.

Remove the shelves.

Step 2

Supporting the Cabinet.

While supporting the cabinet, back out the mounting screws.

Step 3

If necessary, patch any drywall damage. Sand smooth, prime, and paint.

Install a Surface-Mount Mirrored Cabinet

Mirrors can be heavy, so find a helper to lift and position a mirror too large to handle alone.

To position your mirror, first mark the outline on the wall with a pencil or painter’s tape. You can also use cardboard to cut out the mirror dimensions. Any of these techniques will allow you to easily make adjustments to the placement.

Step 1

Marking the Mounting Holes.

Hold the cabinet in place—level—and mark the mounting holes. Set the cabinet aside.

Step 2

Drilling Pilot Holes.

Drill pilot holes at the marks. If you don’t hit wall studs, insert wall anchors.

Step 3

Securing the Mounting Screws.

Hold the cabinet in place and secure with mounting screws. Then add the shelves.

Remove a Recessed Medicine Cabinet

Step 1

Remove the shelves.

Step 2

Backing Out the Mounting Screws.

Back out the mounting screws and pull out the cabinet.

Step 3

Removing the Cabinet.

If you’re not installing a new recessed mirrored cabinet, you’ll need to repair the drywall. You can use the existing stud framing to patch the hole. Start by cutting the existing drywall over the 2x4 framing to expose half of each stud.

Step 4

Cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole. Attach it to the framing with drywall screws.

Step 5

Sand any rough edges along the seams.

Step 6

Next apply joint compound and drywall tape following the manufacturer’s directions. Typically, you’ll apply a thin layer of joint compound, then tape, and let dry. Sand it smooth, apply another layer of compound—feathered beyond the edges of the previous layer—and let dry. Sand again. If necessary, apply a third layer of compound, let it dry, and sand smooth. Next, apply a coat of primer to the patch. Now you're ready to paint the patched area and the rest of the wall.

Install a Recessed Medicine Cabinet

Mirrors can be heavy, so find a helper to lift and position a mirror too large to handle alone.

To position your mirror, first mark the outline on the wall with a pencil or painter’s tape. You can also use cardboard cut to the mirror dimensions. Any of these techniques will allow you to easily make adjustments to the placement.

Step 1

Hold the cabinet in place and mark the outline on the wall.

Step 2

You’ll need to make sure plumbing or electrical will not be in the way. To do that, first locate the studs with a stud finder and mark them. Next drive a screw partway into the wall inside the outlined area and beyond a stud. Cut a small hole around the screw and pull it to remove the piece of wall. Use a flashlight to look inside the wall to see if there is any electrical or plumbing. If there is, you may want to call a professional to reroute them.

Step 3

Next cut along the outline. Cut any studs in the area too, but keep in mind the wall on the other side. A reciprocating saw or hand saw works well for this job.

The wall from the other room will most likely be attached to the studs with screws. Use a mini-hacksaw to cut the drywall screws on the backside of the stud if necessary. Now you can remove the stud.

Step 4

Recessed Cabinet Frame.

Now you'll create the frame inside the recess. Measure between the studs in the wall and cut some 2-by-4s to fit. Here’s a tip: Use a saw to rip about 1 inch off of the 2-by-4s. Thin boards will be easier to position inside the wall.

Apply adhesive to the ends of the 2-by-4s, set them in place, and drive screws through the drywall to hold them. Toenail screws through the 2-by-4s into the existing studs too.

Next cut 2-by-4s for the sides. Hold them in place, and drive screws through the drywall.

Step 5

Now just patch the screw heads with joint compound, let it dry, and sand smooth.

If necessary, prime and paint.  Now you’re ready for the cabinet.

Step 6

Set the cabinet inside the hole. Make sure the door is able to open freely and will not be pinched against the wall. Mark the mounting holes on the sides, remove the cabinet, and drill pilot holes at the marks.

Step 7

Set the cabinet back in the hole and secure it with screws. Add the shelves.

Remove the Vanity Light

Step 1

Using a Circuit Tester.

Turn off the power to the room. Use a circuit tester to doublecheck that it’s off. With the power off, it helps to have a work light powered from another room.

Step 2

Removing a Shade.

Remove the bulbs and shades.

Step 3

Remove the mounting screws.

Step 4

Disconnecting the Wires.

Pull the fixture out just a little bit. Mark which house wires are connected to the colored fixture wires. Then disconnect the wires and remove the fixture. Watch our DIY Basics videos: How to Strip a Wire and How To Connect Two Wires.  

Install the Vanity Light

Step 1

Make sure the power is off.

Step 2

Installing the Mounting Plate.

Pull the house wires through the fixture mounting plate, and secure the plate to the junction box.

Step 3

Wire Connections.

Use wire nuts to connect the house wires to the fixture wires: ground to ground, neutral white to neutral white, and hot black to hot black. Tuck the wires into the box.

Step 4

Installing a Collar Nut.

Position the fixture over the mounting plate and attach with screws. Add the shades, collar nuts, and bulbs. Turn on the power and you’re done.