Full granite backsplash and Electrical Outlets

gneegirlJanuary 6, 2008

OK everyone, need your help again...

I've researched here on how the whole electrical outlets thing works with a full backsplash. Mine is not a total redo - only new countertop and appliances. So, the walls are up and the outlets are in place mid wall. During the templating, I decided to go with a full backsplash rather than 5". But after they left, and I was looking over the kitchen, dreaming, and I just gasped. I forgot to ask how they would handle the outlets already in place. So my question I guess is, will the current outlets be flush with the backsplash depth? Not sure if I've said this correctly, but I just have this vision of "black holes" in the wall where the outlets are because they are more flush with the wall than the backsplash. I don't think I can do plugmolds right now - don't have time. I'll need to find an electrician and have the wiring relocated, and also have the template redone. If someone can chime in and educate me on how this works...

Thanks so much!!


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You should check on the electrical forum but they definitely can extend the boxes to be flush with the new backsplash.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 10:36AM
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Gneegirl -

Chill babe... it's all good !!! HA! ;-)

This is NOT a problem AT ALL - here's what needs to happen:

1. Determine what the thickness of your stone is - 2CM or 3CM?

2. Have a sample piece 4" x 4" on hand for your electrician
to use when he comes over to your home to re-set the depths
of the outlet boxes. This (IMHO) should NOT be a new experience for
EITHER your Electrician OR your Fabricator....

3. Have your Electrician re-set the depths of the outlet
and switch boxes....

(this should be done without the outlet recptacles
and/or switches and trim plates in the boxes when
he does this - just the wires should be sticking out
with the protective wire nuts on each wire
to prevent getting a shocking experience)

...so that that the finished stone will extend past the
outside edge of each box when it is set by about an 1/8" -
this means that prior to the splashes coming,
your outlet boxes will protrude from the
walls by the thickness of the stone PLUS an eigth of an inch.
(the extra 1/8" will alow for adhesive to set the
slab pieces to the walls)
so allow for some variation - 1/8" should be enough,
BUT - you may need to go 1/4" - this depends on
your walls - if they are really flat, true and plumb
or if they are "ca-ca".....
IF your walls are nice and flat, you could have the
boxes set so that they are flush with the stone - WITHOUT
the extra 1/8" too - this will all depend on how wacky
your walls are...make sense???
Ask your Fabricator to get involved on this if you have trouble....

4. Check your walls with a 6 or 8 foot straight edge to be sure..
you may have really wacky walls, and in that case, you should (again)
have your Fabricator check them (hopefully, he already did)

This is something that I go over in detail with all of my
customers that receive full height slab splashes, so they
don't get all freaked out over something like this -
it's really not a big deal at all - they (your Fabricator)
should have gone over it with you
already (IMHO)....

Any ways...............

Once the full height backsplashes are installed, your
Electrician will be able to install the outlets & switches
without much wailing or mashing of teeth... HA! ;-)

Problem Solved !!!!!

Hope that helps


Kevin M. Padden MIA SFA
Fabricator, Trainer & Consultant to the Natural Stone Industry

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 10:46AM
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Alternatively, an electrician can easily pull one outlet up to under upper cabinet height and you can wire in plugmold, thus avoiding any holes in your backsplash. In addition, having an electrician do this may be cheaper than paying for him to pull out all the boxes to the right depth and also paying for each cut out.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 12:22PM
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Chances are, your full-height backsplash will be 2cm stone. There's no reason to spend the extra amount it would cost to use 3cm on the backsplash.

That being said, there's no need to reset the electrical boxes. As long as the holes cut into the stone are sized and positioned properly, the metal "ears" at the top and bottom of the electrical receptacles will rest on the edge of the stone and can be screwed down tightly (although slightly longer screws may be needed). Once the cover plates are in place, the "ears" will be covered and all will look and function just as it should.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 2:29PM
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I don't agree with what jamesk said about it being 2cm. Usually, it will be the same thickness as your counter granite because it comes off the same slabs. 2 cm stone might be cheaper than 3 cm but if the counters are going to be 3 cm, it might be difficult to find a color match and impossible to find a grain match in a 2 cm slab.

Ours is 2 cm because that is what our counters are (and what most stone is around here).

gneegirl, our electrical boxes were installed as kevin described. Our granite fabricator cut the holes for the outlets and switches when he came to install the backsplash. The cutting was done in our back yard. I think our outlet boxes are also a kind that lets the box depth be adjusted with a couple of screws though that isn't essential.

We got Lutron outlets and switches in a color that went well with our granite (black but the Lutron "satin" black is less shiny than the ones at the hardware store - close to a matte). We splurged and got granite wall plates made from some of our left over granite by Columbia Gorge Stoneworks. One end of the backsplash is next to our back door and has a bank of six switches for various internal and external lights so the granite wall plates make a difference.

We are quite happy with the results:

Here is how it looked before the granite wall plates arrived:

Here is a link that might be useful: Columbia Gorge Stoneworks

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 5:55PM
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Not to belabor the point, the the other principal reason that 2cm stone is usually used for backsplash instead of 3cm stone (even if the countertops are 3cm), is that it's much easier to integrate with moldings and other trim which might abutt with it. 3cm stone would be thicker than most window or door moldings, making the transition between trim and the stone awkward.

Here's an image of of a portion of my kitchen with 3cm countertops and 2cm backsplash. The eye usually won't readily detect slight variations between two pieces of stone (assuming they're very similar) if one is on a horizontal plane and the other is on a vertical plane. Naturally, a skilled fabricator helps, too.

My original point about it not being necessary to reset the electrical boxes would be true regardless of which thickness of stone was used.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 6:29PM
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WOW - you all have great info and it now makes sense to me. I'm talking to the fabricator in the AM and will find out about the thickness of the backsplash. I may need to push the install date up a day or two because of other stuff - sink and faucet, so I may have time to have the electrican move the wires up the wall so I can have plugmolds. If not, I'll use the other approach - leaving them in place but adjusting them for the backsplash thickness. Thank you so much for all the details - VERY HELPFUL. I'm almost there!!!!


    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 12:21AM
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