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11 Different Types of Medicine Cabinets

Preserve your stash of medicines, keep them out of reach from children, and know which will medicine cabinet go best with your interior by getting to know the different types of medicine cabinets you can choose from.

Open red medicine cabinet on a cement wall.

Any house, with limited space and countless small to medium-sized products, can’t do without medicine cabinets. If your home has a powder room, then wall cabinets are a must-have. Needless to say, they have become a necessity in every kind of bathroom as these useful cabinets installed in a bathroom wall can store a variety of accessories and products. These cabinets can also serve as the perfect bathroom storage cabinets for all of your essential items like toiletries, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

Ironically, it is advised that you keep most medication away from your medicine cabinets. That’s because medicines can be at a great risk if you put them in these wall cabinets; they may get damaged due to the excessive moisture build-up in your bathrooms. And if you have older children, then they may have easy access to these medicines; which can be quite dangerous. Hence, it is ideal to keep your medicines elsewhere and dedicate this shelve to your other items.

That being said, there is a group of people that prefers to keep medicines in their medicine cabinets as these shelves are specifically made for preserving medicines. There are two scenarios where it is ideal to use these bathroom cabinets for medicines. The first is when you don’t have children in the house or the cabinet comes with a lock. The second ideal situation is when these shelves have a strong and durable interior/exterior which helps keep the medicines in their top condition and out of the reach of children.

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If you are planning to invest in a medicine cabinet, you’ll need to know the different options available. This will help you make a better decision about which one of them will suit your needs and go well with your house interior.

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Popular Types of Medicine Cabinets

There are two essential types of medicine cabinets – recessed medicine cabinets and surface mount cabinets. Both of them have certain properties which make them the common pick among buyers; let’s discuss each of these two in detail here.

1. Recessed Mount Medicine Cabinets

Recessed mount medicine cabinets are famous for their built-in look and less storage space. These two features make such cabinets aesthetically pleasing than any other type of medicine cabinets. Instead of sticking out of the wall, a recessed cabinet is poked in. To ensure that the cabinet harmonizes well with the interior of your bathroom, you will need to pick a medicine cabinet that compliments the architecture of your space. Owing to this reason, installing a medicine cabinet requires intensive planning by experts.

Not only is the planning intensive but the installation of recessed cabinets is nothing less than a feat. Since the shelves have to be mounted inside the wall, wires and pipes which may already be present in the wall have to be rerouted. For this job, you will need to hire a well-experienced and skilled electrician or plumber. Another drawback of a recessed medicine cabinet is its mirror. The surface of the mirror is mounted a few inches deeper into the cabinet that can be a slight nuisance for people with poor vision. Also, surface mount medicine cabinets have limited capacity due to their limited wall depth.

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The ideal time to consider the installation of a recessed medicine cabinet is when you already have bathroom renovation going on. Since it requires some amount of construction, it won’t cause any trouble.

2. Surface Mount Cabinets

Also known as wall-mounted cabinets, surface mount cabinets are easy-to-install cabinets as they don’t require digging the wall or installing the cabinet. Unlike recessed medicine cabinets, a surface mount cabinet can easily mount on the existing wall of your bathroom or any other room. This is why wall-mounted shelves can be carried out as a DIY project.

You can consider this option after your bathroom renovation is completed as it doesn’t require rigorous construction. You can put these cabinets up on your wall to your already new, renovated space within the span of 10 minutes. In other words, working with surface mounted cabinets is less time consuming as compared to recessed medicine cabinets. Another great benefit of having a surface mount cabinet is the plenty of storage space it offers. Since the medicine shelf extends out, it offers more space to keep all kinds of your medicines and products.

While surface mount cabinets have advantages, they come with some drawbacks as well. This type of medicine cabinet slightly juts out of the wall which many people don’t consider attractive. If the walls or cabinets lack overall finishing, then the interior won’t be visually pleasing either. And if your paint is coming off then it will be instantly visible due to the stuck-out structure of the surface mount medicine cabinets.

Styles of Medicine Cabinets

Once you have decided on whether you want to have a recessed medicine cabinet or a surface mount medicine cabinet, the next step is to pick a style. Bathroom medicine cabinets come in a wide range of style which we have discussed in detail below:

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1. Mirrored Medicine Cabinets

13x16 Unfinished #2 Concealed Medicine Cabinet (Regular), a Recessed Mirrorless Medicine Cabinet with a Picture Frame Door

This is one of the most high-functioning medicine cabinets on the market as it has more than one uses. Besides storing your medicines and other essential products, you can look at your reflection in the mirror, touch up your makeup, or set your hairstyle.

While most commonly, medicine cabinets are designed to have a mirror door, some of them even have these mirrors installed inside the cabinet. This gives an aesthetic touch to the cabinet and makes the interior look more spacious. This is a great option for small bathrooms as this bathroom vanity will make your small bathroom appear bigger.

Another way to enhance the storage space of your medicine cabinet is by selecting the full-length model. This type of medicine cabinet is available with a full-length mirror and a single door; the single door can either be divided into two, consisting of an upper and lower cabinet, or an undivided cabinet with a full-length mirrored door. Sometimes, for more storage space, people opt for three-folded mirror cabinets which boast a magnifying mirror as its mirrored door. An added benefit is that this kind of a mirror front offers tri-view to the user. Install this cabinet to ensure all of your products are stored away in an organized manner.

Mirrored medicine cabinets are a great option if your bathroom interior boasts glass walls or floor. Another piece of advice is to consider a beveled mirror if you have small kids in your house or if you want a stylish mirror front. Beveled mirrors are super safe and elegant, perfect for any household.

2. Framed Medicine Cabinets

AQUADOM Royale Plus, 24in x 36in x 5in Right Hinge, LED Medicine Cabinet, Automatic Defogger, Touch Screen Button, Dimmer, Electrical Outlet

For a larger-than-life look, framed medicine cabinets are a worthy option. Framed medicine cabinets can be found in two forms – mirrored medicine cabinets with frames or framed medicine cabinets without mirrors.

What materials are used for framing both mirrored and mirror-less medicine cabinets? Some of the popular types of frames that are used are aluminum, wood, plastic, and stainless steel.

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Having your medicine cabinet framed in any of these frame types will provide you with plenty of benefits.

3. Aluminum Medicine Cabinet

Yaheetech Medicine Cabinets Wooden Bathroom Wall Cabinet with Double Mirror Doors Adjustable Shelf White

Aluminum medicine cabinets have oxidized finishing which prevents the shelf from rusting away. The gathering of rust is a common problem that can ruin the beauty of your both aluminum surface mount medicine cabinets and surface mount medicine cabinets.

Another great benefit of installing aluminum medicine cabinet is that it isn’t prone to pest infestation, given that aluminum is waterproof in nature. Owing to this aluminum property, you will have one less thing to worry about.

4. Wood Medicine Cabinet

24" x 32" Solid Wood Framed Medicine Cabinet in Ocean Gray

Medicine shelves with wood framework allow the cabinet to stay in order for years. Since wood is a durable and long-lasting material, it provides utmost strength to the medicine cabinet.

While it gives a distinctive style to your medicine shelf, it also prevents it from sagging over the years. Hence, wood-framed medicine cabinets are ideal if you’re looking for a strong and sturdy cabinet. To install this type of medicine cabinet, make sure that you go for a high-quality wood.

5. Plastic Medicine Cabinet

20 in. x 26 in Framed Aluminum Recessed or Surface-Mount Bathroom Medicine Cabinet in Coppered Pewter

Recessed plastic medicine cabinets are easier to work and install as they are lightweight. Another great factor of plastic medicine cabinets is that they are less expensive as compared to other types of medicine cabinets.

That being said, plastic medicine cabinets may not be the best choice as they are less rigid and lack durability. They are a great choice if you want to keep light, airy products or medicines in your cabinets.

6. Stainless Steel Medicine Cabinet

Renovator's Supply Stainless Steel 19-3/4 X 13-3/4 Wall Mount Recessed Medicine Cabinets with Mirror

Stainless steel-framed medicine cabinets are better and durable than wood or plastic ones. These types of medicine shelves ensure protection against harmful pests, bacteria, and germs.

What’s more appealing is that these cabinets ensure maximum shine, making your medicine cabinet appear brand-new all the time.

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7. Frameless Medicine Cabinets

KOHLER K-CB-CLC2026FS Frameless 20 inch x 26 inch Aluminum Bathroom Medicine Cabinet; ; Recess or Surface Mount

This is a modern type of medicine cabinet that has a very sleek look to it as it comes without frames. Frameless medicine cabinets make cleaning a lot easier as they do not get dirty or dusty around the edges. Beware, some frameless medicine shelves come with sharper edges than framed ones. So be careful when choosing a frameless design, especially if you have small kids or someone with poor eyesight at your home.

Frameless medicine cabinets also offer the user more storage capacity. Since there isn’t any frame occupying any additional space, the interior of these frameless styled cabinets is spacious and plenty of products can easily be stored.

8. Custom-Designed Medicine Cabinet

Fox Hollow Furnishings 14" x 24" Mirrored Medicine Cabinet,Shaker White

Any type of medicine cabinet can be customized according to the interior of your bathroom. You can hire a medicine cabinet designer that can design a unique medicine shelf according to your preferences.

With custom-designed medicine cabinets, you will have the flexibility to design a personalized cabinet according to your required size, shape, material, style etc. This will also give you an opportunity to have a one-of-a-kind medicine cabinet in your bathroom.

9. Vintage Medicine Cabinet

go2buy Wall Mounted Medicine Cabinet Kitchen/Bathroom Wooden Hanging Storage Organizer, Espresso

Also called antique bathroom cabinets, a vintage medicine cabinet is an old-school inspired shelf, perfect for bathrooms that have a vintage feel to them. Vintage medicine cabinets usually have a dull surface and retro-looking finish, which can be quite attractive if done with finesse.

These bathroom cabinets usually come in the form of wood, making it one of the most versatile pieces in your bathroom.


This article must have inspired you to revamp your medicine cabinet. All you need to do is start with choosing the type of medicine cabinet (recessed medicine cabinet or surface mount cabinet) first and then go from there. The process will become a lot easier once you have decided what you really want your medicine shelf to look like.

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