man tracing wall niche to create template for installation
Photo: Laura Moss

Step 1: Trace the Niche

The niche has a lip around the perimeter that will rest against the wall bordering the cutout, while the convex back will nest inside the hole. To create an opening that doesn't swallow the entire niche, you'll need to make a cardboard template that represents the recessed portion only. Set the niche on a piece of cardboard like a turtle on its back, and cut down a pencil to span the distance from the underside of the lip to the cardboard. Keeping the pencil vertical and tight against the recess, run it along the outline of the niche beneath the lip, as shown, to trace your template.
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    Tools List

    • utility scissors
      Utility scissors
    • studfinder
      Stud finder
    • straightedge guide
      Straightedge, to mark cut lines between the lath pieces
    • utility knife
      Utility knife, to score the drywall
    • flat prybar
      Small pry bar
    • reciprocating saw
      Reciprocating saw, to cut any lath and plaster and to remove any obtrusive studs
    • circular saw
      Circular saw, to cut the 2x4 blocking
    • drill
      Drill/driver, fitted with a 1⁄8-inch drill bit
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun
    • paintbrush

    Shopping List

    1. Niche
    Choose a dense polyurethane niche in a design that mimics surrounding moldings.

    2. Cardboard
    to create a template.

    3. Pole system
    (or painter's tape) to hold the plastic sheeting in place.4. Plastic sheeting

    5. Painter's tape
    to secure plastic around work window.

    6. Adhesive caulk

    7. Paint