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While opening the medicine cabinet last night I felt it move away from the wall! When I took off the cabinet it appears that the person that installed it just drilled screws into a horizontal sheet of drywall to secure the top of the cabinet and they pulled out... incredible.

What is the best way to safely secure the top of the cabinet?

mirrored medicine cabinet off mounts

cutout in wall for cabinet

cutaway of material at top of cutout

And here's the screw that pulled out of the wall:

attachment bracket and screw with drywall debris on threads

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    After closer examination our your pictures, it appears to me that the screws were too short to reach the Header board and only penetrated the drywall. You can confirm this by screwing or nailing through the original mounting holes and see if you hit the header board in that opening. If this is the case, just use similar screws about 1-1/2 " longer. to mount the top of the mirror. The wood shown in the picture at the top of the mirrow were spacers. Jan 7, 2022 at 16:32
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    Are we certain it's drywall? My first thought would be it's also lath & plaster, same as the back of the face we can see. I'd go with HoneyDo's answer so far, fasten through the walls from the inside of the cupboard into the existing framing round the hole [assuming that's actually fastened to something solid]. You can probably foget those top fastenings altogether. Alternatively, if it doesn't sit in that recess but flush on it, ignoring it actually exisis; then use a piece of angle bracket into the framing & self-drillers into the bracket. Don't trust the plaster at all.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 7, 2022 at 17:06
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    As an aside, anyone know what that wall construction is? Lumber on flat with cement??? May be also a good time now to add some insulation behind the cabinet if an exterior or below grade wall, depending on climate.
    – P2000
    Jan 7, 2022 at 17:47
  • yes, drywall pieces perpendicular to the wall framed the whole opening where a previous (presumably inset) cabinet was. @Programmer66 you were right! I poked inside with a screw driver and felt the header. I used screws an 1-1/2" longer and was able to secure it, make it an answer and I'll accept.
    – mlegge
    Jan 9, 2022 at 20:39
  • @P2000 That's the backside of plaster and (wood) lath. Bone-stock standard in the US before drywall was a thing.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 10, 2022 at 16:53

4 Answers 4

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After closer examination our your pictures, it appears to me that the screws were too short to reach the Header board and only penetrated the drywall.

You can confirm this by screwing or nailing through the original mounting holes and check if you can hit the header board in that opening. If this is the case, just use similar screws about 1-1/2 " longer to mount the top of the mirror.

The wood shown in your picture at the top of the mirror were used as a spacer.

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An alternative:
Most recessed medicine cabinet installations I've seen would attach through the sidewall of the cabinet into the framing.
Your pictures don't show if there are mounting holes for that purpose but depending on the construction of the cabinet you may be able to drill a few on each side if they don't exist now. You'll want to make sure that the cabinet is supported by the framing at the base. You can adjust the height of the cabinet by adding a spacer board if necessary. This will ensure that the side mount screws aren't supporting the weight of the cabinet but only holding it in place so it won't slide forward.
You'll probably have to use some furring strips to build out between the cabinet wall and the framing but once screwed in will make it a much more secure installation.
You can still attach at the top but you may not need to do that.
If you can't attach through the sides you need to make sure you hit at least one stud with your mounting screws. There is too much glass/weight there to rely on only hollow wall fasteners.

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  • I should have included a picture of the sides -- they're also mirror panels. In addition both the width and height of the cabinet is about 4-5" larger than the opening... I didn't even know it was there until I took the cabinet off.
    – mlegge
    Jan 9, 2022 at 20:42
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Either find studs and reach them with longer screws, or use drywall anchors like these examples. Make sure you get one with proper depth. enter image description here

enter image description here

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It looks to me like it was a retrofit that covered the hole from a previous inset cabinet. While those snazzy drywall anchors would work, I'm confident you can either hit the header with longer screws (as mentioned in a comment), or the studs going up from the header (if studs, you can move the mounting brackets side to side to line them up). Always nice to anchor to the framing when you can!

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