So I went to go change my bathroom vanity light today and discovered that it simply had the wiring coming through a hole in the wall and the previous vanity was literally just screwed into the wall with 2 screws.

Went to the local home improvement store and the employees guided me to some old work boxes that look like this:

Old Work Box

So I get it installed, but it had me wondering...is this safe? I mean the vanity light isn't THAT heavy (I weighed it at around 3 lbs). I do not have a stud nearby (that I can see anyways) (nor would it matter because I would need to have access behind it anyways), and I really don't want to be tearing out an entire wall ideally)

Is this ok? I looked at various guides on changing or adding vanity lights and most seem to use these boxes (Which "seem" to be rated for 6 lb's, and only mention NOT to use them for ceilings).


Yes, an old work box is completely safe for what you're using it for. Just make sure the dogs are snug against the drywall.

  • Thanks, I mean it's not on the ceiling so really it would require the drywall to completely fail. I mean considering the last light was basically held to the wall by 2 screws I figure it can't be any worse than that! – msmith1114 Jan 13 '19 at 1:37
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    It's actually better off in a box than anchored to the drywall with screws. I run in to the same situation almost weekly. Lol – BillWeckel Jan 13 '19 at 1:39
  • Better off compared to what? just 2 screws? What I had before was one of these "cheap" lights: lowes.com/pd/Project-Source-4-Light-24-05-in-Vanity-Light/… – msmith1114 Jan 13 '19 at 1:46
  • Yes, just being attached with 2 screws to the drywall. – BillWeckel Jan 13 '19 at 1:47

I've used lots of old-work boxes of various designs and love them. When you have a heavy fixture, you need one that will support the weight (by being secured to studs or joists), but your vanity light is.... well, light.


Make sure the box doesn't show around the fixture. They usually do and makes it unsightly for the homeowner. I made that mistake as an apprentice once and made a huge mess for the drywall guy/boss man/everyone else to fix. More higher-end expensive fixtures have a wire gutter built-in and the splice takes place inside the fixture. Never splice inside a wall cavity. You need to splice in an UL approved box. Then just place a plastic button connector in the back. Drywall anchors should be fine or find a stud to screw it too if its a long fixture. Unless its a piece of lead or iron, then weight shouldn't be a problem.

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