Tiling Around Backsplash Electrical Outlets

Wren14August 2, 2010

I'm getting ready to install my subway tile backsplash, but I'm not sure how to tile around the electrical outlets. I'm not sure if I should tile just up to the edges of the plate so that it will be flush with the tile, or if I should tile under the plate so it is on top of the tile. I'd rather tile under the plate but I'm not sure how to get the outlet to protrude from the box. I read somewhere that you can buy spacers that will extend the switch/plug out from the box but I can't find them at the home improvement store. Does anyone have any suggestions based on their experience. Thanks.

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We just did our backsplash. We took off the plates and tiled up to the box so the plate will go on top of the tile. Our boxes were the kind where they can be adjusted forward (they were blue and had a small screw that moved the whole thing either forward or back.) If your boxes can't be adjusted, I think these extension boxes are what you need. They'll need to go on before you tile. (I think they need to be nailed to the stud.) Maybe someone at Home Depot can tell you how they work. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Depot Extension box

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Tiled up to the box too but still kicking myself for not thinking of putting an outlet strip under the cabinets before the drywall was replaced.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 6:58PM
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The cover plate comes off, and then you'll see each outlet and switch has little "ears" on top and bottom. These "ears" MUST sit on top of the tile when finished. Otherwise, they'll be sunk into the tile, or at the very least, you'll see gaps around where the coverplate comes in contact with either the switch or outlet. Below is a pic of how it should look when complete, minus the cover plate:

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:49PM
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Thanks everyone. I'll definately tile up to the box. I'll look for the extenders.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 7:11AM
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Circus Peanut

The receptacle box extenders come in all sizes from 1/4" to 1.5" thick, so you can get exactly the depth you need to compensate for how thick your tile + mortar is. You don't have to nail them -- just lay them over the old box and screw them to the box using the same screw you're using for the receptacle itself (you might need a longer screw, they sometimes come packaged with the extender). I'm not sure the big box stores carry them (although they should); if not, go to a regular hardware store.

I learned the hard way: definitely get those little ears on the outside of the tile, otherwise nothing will fit correctly when you put it back together! :-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:36AM
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Circuspeanut - That's exactly what I need. Thank you. I just couldn't picture the extender in my head. This makes total sense!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 6:46AM
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