Framing a built-in cabinet will give you more storage in your bath. Most bathroom wall space is underutilized and can be better exploited through the addition of built-in custom cabinetry. When framing a built-in cabinet for your washroom, you must first decide upon the size of the cabinet.
Typically wall studs are about 16 inches apart on the center of a 2×4 so to create a built-in cabinet, or recessed storage cubby, a fourteen and a half inch space is needed to accommodate the cabinet if you do not want to cut through your existing wall studs.
Believe it or not, this is actually a lot of storage space if used correctly. In this space, you can put some recessed display cabinets, a drop down ironing board or your typical medicine cabinet.
Reclaiming the Area Between Your Existing Structural Joists
When renovating your bathroom, the process of framing a built-in cabinet is straightforward, and most standard medicine cabinets will fit quite nicely between your existing wall framing studs.
In preparation of installing your built-in cabinet, you first need to locate your lavatory wall studs with a stud finder and using a tape measure determine the size of opening you will need to cut in your drywall.
Know What’s in Your Walls Before you Begin Construction
And for safety’s sake, before you forget, make sure you turn off all utilities going to your washroom because you never know what you will find within your bath walls in terms of wiring and piping.
One thing that should be mentioned is that it is usually best to put your bathroom cabinets on your interior walls as opposed to your exterior walls. This is fundamentally better for your storage solutions because while you may gain storage space, you will ultimately lose the all-important insulation in your exterior bath walls.
Before you begin framing the space for your new cabinet between your wall studs, you need to use a framing square and level to lay out the cut lines for the opening on the wall where your built-in cabinet will be inserted.
Creating the Framework for Your New Storage Compartments
To make cutting the drywall easier and more accurate start by drilling holes at the corner of your layout to get you started with the cut. Using a drywall saw continue cutting along your schematic lines until you have successfully made an opening.
Next, behind the drywall on the wall studs, you need to create a stable support for your cabinet. Using four drywall screws per block, this can be accomplished by fastening six-inch 2×4 blocks to the inside of the wall studs at the top and bottom of the cabinet opening.
Blocking in the Cabinet Opening
Just make sure you leave enough room when spacing the blocks to accommodate the header (top) and footer (sill) 2×4 extension pieces at the bottom and top of the cabinet opening. Now you must attach the header and sill at the inside top and bottom of the six inch long blocks.
Using a hammer drive nails into one toe-nailed fastener into your wall stud and drive the other nail into the support block for added stability. Now all that is left is to position your new cabinet between the framing members and install with one and three-quarter inch wood screws to finish your built-in cabinet installation.
Compensating for Deeper Shelving Units
One thing that should be mentioned here is that most wall studs are going to be four inches deep so if you have a deeper cabinet, it will protrude from the wall. To fix this problem, you are going to have to use extension pieces to bridge the space between the cabinet front and your bathroom wall. This can be easily done by predrilling and attaching the pieces to your bathroom wall or new cabinet.
Framing and installing a standard built-in cabinet is a quick and simple DIY weekend project to help you organize your bath. If on the other hand, you want to frame a wide cabinet, this would involve more time and planning because you would have to cut away studs and framing members.
And if the wall you are cutting into is a load bearing wall, this would also involve creating extra support for the framing members to redistribute the load. The good thing is that for walls that are not load bearing, a single 2×4 header should suffice for an opening up to three feet wide.