• In this video, This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows how to install a small shelf niche in a hallway wall.

    1. Make a cardboard template that represents the recessed portion of the wall niche.

    2. Choose a nonload-bearing wall, and mark the location of the studs using a stud finder. Trace the outline of the template on the wall.

    3. Hang plastic sheeting around the area to minimize dust while cutting. Cut a window around the niche's outline and tape down the edges of your work window.

    3. Cut the hole in the drywall along the outline. If you have plaster, locate horizontal gaps between the strips of wood lath by drilling holes. Make horizontal relief cuts along these lines. Then cut through the perimeter of the outline to remove the lath and plaster.

    4. Cut through any exposed studs in the wall, then install blocking around the opening. Fit horizontal blocking between vertical studs, flush with the edges of the opening at the top and bottom. Secure each end of the blocking by driving 3-inch screws through the block and into the nearby studs at an angle. Also install blocking on at least one side of the opening.

    7. Apply adhesive caulk to the blocking, to the back of the niche along points where it will meet the blocking, and along the niche's lip where it will touch the wall. Tip the niche into place and shim it if necessary.

    8. Caulk around the seam where the niche meets the wall and smooth it with a wet fingertip. Once the caulk has set, paint the niche.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Cutting the hole in the wall and installing the blocking is a custom job, but installing the niche is easy.
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      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