Kitchen and Dining

Kitchen + Dining

Kitchen + Dining

Wall Niche

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wallniche
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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

A wall niche is kind of cubby hole carved into a stud wall, usually to house display shelving. These days, they are often seen in higher-end  housing as prefashioned inserts with an arch shape and Greco-Roman styling, often with classical statuary within the niche sides. The niche shown here is a rather different animal. It is simply a wooden box that you slip into a hole in the wall and then trim out. As a quick and easy storage project, it is a perfect accompaniment to our breakfast nook project. A niche creates a perfect spot to stash napkin holders, salt and pepper shakers, and other tableware so your table surface is clear for eating, relaxing or doing a bit of homework. The steps, skills, and tools described here can be used to create wall niches of various sizes and in numerous locations. It is important to note, however, that these niches are intended for nonload-bearing walls. If the niche you wish to create would involve cutting framing members in a load-bearing wall, consider redesigning the project so you do not have to cut wall studs. Making structural alterations to a load-bearing wall should be done only by qualified professionals. It’s also important to be aware of any electrical wires or gas or water plumbing near your project area. Check to see if there are light switches or plugs above or below the niche opening before cutting and try to deduce where plumbing might be routed and located.

Safety Notice: This project should be installed only in nonload-bearing walls. Do not cut wall studs in loadbearing walls unless you are working with a certified building engineer or licensed contractor.

Wall Niche Diagram

Wall Niche Cutting List

How to Build a Wall Niche

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    Determine that the wall you’re cutting into is not a load-bearing or exterior wall. Determine the opening’s finished location and height and width. An 8" tall by 24" wide niche is just the right scale for the kitchen booth project we designed this niche to accompany. Use a 2-ft. level and mark all four sides of the opening plumb and level at the finished location. These lines are the control points for all other measurements. Measure ¾" out from each control point line. Do this at two points on each line and connect the dots using a 2-ft. level.

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    Check in the basement and adjoining walls for wiring and pipes. Open a preliminary hole with a razor knife to check if you’re unsure. Use a drywall saw or reciprocating saw to cut along the cut line. make the cut as shallow as you can in case there are hidden wires or pipes in the wall. Remove the drywall, exposing the wall studs. More than likely, you’re going to have a wall stud or two somewhere in the middle of the opening. Use a reciprocating saw to remove the studs. Or, you can use a circular saw to start the cut, carefully aligning it with the edge of the drywall and using it to cut the stud.

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    Be careful not to cut through the drywall on the back side of the cut. When removing studs, you may pull a fastener through from an adjoining room and have to repair that afterwards. Nails or screws may be penetrating from the other side of the wall into the stud. Carefully remove the stud section. It is likely that removing the stud section will cause the fastener to pull through the opposite side of the wall, so touch-up may be necessary.

    For most nonload-bearing walls the competed niche box should provide adequate support for the cut studs. But if you are cutting more than one stud, or if you simply want to be certain the niche box does not sag from downward pressure, make the opening larger and install a double 2 × 4 header over the niche box. This will require considerably more patching of the wall covering, but you may appreciate it for your own peace of mind.

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    Measure the depth of your wall cavity and subtract 3⁄8" from the overall depth to give yourself a little bit of flexibility when installing the niche and to allow for the thickness (¼") of the backer material. This measurement yields the required width of the boards you’ll use to make the niche box. Rip-cut 1 × 6 × 8 lumber to the required width, using a tablesaw or a circular saw with a straightedge guide. Cut the frame parts to length.

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    Fasten top and bottom niche frame parts to the sides with drywall screws driven into countersunk pilot holes. Cut the backer board to size and attach it to the back edges of the frame with drywall screws or finish nails.

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    Cut trim moldings (such as door casing or picture frame molding) to fit the niche box. For the most satisfying results, choose a molding style and approach that reflects the molding scheme already in the room. Fasten the trim to the niche box with finish nails and glue or panel adhesive. Run a small bead of caulk/adhesive on the face of the niche box.

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    The niche box is fastened through the interior walls of the box to the ends of the stud(s) you removed. It can also be fastened to blocks you install in the wall cavity on each side. Locate each stud and transfer its location to the interior of the box and mark it. Test-fit the niche box to make sure it lays flat against drywall. When you have established that the fit is good, run a bead of caulk/adhesive on the backsides of the trim pieces. Insert the niche box into the opening. Press firmly so the trim squeezes into the adhesive.

    Predrill holes at stud locations and fasten with a pair of 6d finish nails driven through the frame boards and into the ends of the cut wall studs. Fill and sand fastener holes. sand and caulk as necessary. Prime and paint or apply another finish of your choice.