Backsplash sanity check- ending close to a doorway

labbieSeptember 11, 2012

Quick sanity check here- Tile guy is coming first thing tomorrow a.m. to install our backsplash.

We have 4 inches from the end of the counter to a piece of door trim. There is an outlet that is past the counter and long story but cannot be moved at this point (you'll see the pencil mark where I wish it could've been).

Ironically the tile is almost exactly the wall color, it's fairly thin, and color all the way through (it's a porcelain 3x12).

Contractor says in these instances he tiles all the way to the trimwork. I googled and saw someone suggest this solution to a poster with a similar issue.

Without moving the outlet, the only other solution is to tile around it which I think would look worse. By the time we did an edge piece it would leave such a skinny piece of wall between it and the trim.

I have kitchen reno exhaustion so checking whether I'm crazy to be ok with this solution?

Here is the overall kitchen, the area is the far left edge of the counter, next to the sunroom doorframe

Here is a closeup of the area. It's about 4 inches to the wall

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I personally would not go all the way to the wall. I think I would rather see the tiles line up from cabinet to counter. It would mean half of the switch would have tile. You can get trim pieces for the end or bullnose tiles.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:38PM
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I don't think that would look so good, but I've not seen it before.

Could you condense the light switches into a single outlet size switch? You could mount it in the cavity close as possible to the door, then you could patch the blank hole and run the tile to the edge of the cupboards. We did this in a previous home. In this home we used the same switches, but turned them sideways to match the subway tile. Here's the type of switch I mean...

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:43PM
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why again can it not be moved? is there a valid reason other than the contractor does not want to do it? it really does not look good there, i would press to absolutely verify it cannot be moved. .

if it can't than i guess tiling 1/2 way around it but it is going to look pretty silly. i also would not tile to the trim.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:45PM
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I would move the outlet even if I had to pay for it and tile to the edge of the cabinets or counter.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:00PM
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I second palimpsest's opinion - I would move the switch, even if I had to pay for it, in order for the tile to line up with the edge of the cabinets or counter top. We had an outlet in our kitchen installed in the "wrong" place and it too spoiled the symmetry of the backsplash so it was moved over 4 inches to fix it as it would have bugged me to see it off centre. Your electrician more than likely put the switch where it currently is in to ensure it was in the proper place next to the door but it can be moved over if you want it over so your backsplash looks like you want it to look.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Oh man, I'd give up my dual switch if we could move it to the left against door frame but there is a double stud there so it's over as far as possible already (which is our problem, haha)

Good point on pushing back on contractor. We are going to clarify our understanding tomorrow, but when we asked him to look initially, he said the wires in there currently (it was a pre-existing outlet that we left as is) are too short to move over to where we need it (which is beyond our pencil marks due to a stud).
He says he would have to open up the wall to run new wire, and this would potentially require taking the upper cabinets down. I'm partially ticked this wasn't thought of, by us or him, before the walls were closed up.
Does this sound right? I'm no electrician but wondering if there is a way to "extend" the wire (splicing the two together??) wondering if this is a code issue.
He said he'd have to charge us $250, but that's not the issue. I am just very scared to have the cabinetry taken down- Murphy's law has applied to most of our issues so far and I'm envisioning some disaster to my cabinets.

We are going to ask the tile guys if they can "leave off" at that section of wall until we rectify this- hopefully that won't be another issue. We'll find out tomorrow. thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:14PM
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As I have discovered there is no such thing as a wire that is "too short". I was told the same thing but hubby says anything can be moved, it's just a matter of whether they want to move it or not. In our case they left the existing junction box in the wall and wired another one from the existing one to the new one. The old one will be covered with backsplash material in our case. In your case they could just push it in the wall and dry wall, paint etc., over it and move it to where your pencil mark shows you would prefer it to be.

Here's my lovely mess (sorry about the picture size - not smart enough to have figured out yet how to make them smaller). The one on the far left is the one that I didn't want as it didn't match the one on the far right so they moved it to the right 4 inches and now it matches the one on the far right:

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:26PM
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So all of our "before and after" photos may pay off. I may also crosspost this on the electrical/wiring board, but if anyone here also has insight I'd appreciate it. Here is the photo DH took before the drywall was up. I don't know if the wires need to be stapled to a stud, but the outlet in question is the one shown on the far left- we would like it moved over to the right. The box already there is the backside of the lighting box for our sunroom that abuts the kitchen. If they could 'swing' the wires over it would work. Or, as holden said maybe leave that box in and wire a new box to it.

Holden thanks for posting the photo- and on a 'more fun than electrical issues' note I think we may have the same brand beverage fridge. At least the handle is the same. Is yours a Marvel? We just got ours up and running and love it.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:36PM
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Beverage fridges are definitely more fun than electrical issues. Ours are GE Monogram. Not running yet (long boring story) but someday soon they may actually run and hold our copious wine and beverage collection that has been keeping us sane through our renovations. Our favourite phase is "with the proper beverage and a sense of humour you can get through anything".

Good luck with your contractor tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:55PM
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"with the proper beverage and a sense of humour you can get through anything"

I agree fully! (as I'm sipping a lovely vodka tonic my husband mixed for me as I drafted the email to our contractor)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:56PM
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What a bunch of hooey.
Your DH is right. Anything can be moved and you've got a lot of leeway in that wall. Yes, your wires should be stapled so someday they're not drilled thru, or a nail put into them because they're resting against the back of the drywall.

There doesn't seem to be any reason at all that the cabinets should come down. This is a lateral move, not vertical.

My electrician God has done far more difficult spaces than this, crazier applications, and remedied a lot more bad wiring than that little thing.

I hate a whole bunch of outlets and switches all over the place. Throughout my house, I've consolidated into larger switch/outlet boxes. Simply to streamline. Doesn't mean it's necessarily easy for my Electrician, but he just does what I want.

In my kitchen, I have light switch panels on either side of my sink. Left: peninsula pendants, and 2 outlets. Right: over sink light, garbage disposer, and two outlets. Also Decora, BTW. What he had to do to get them into one box seemed like a big deal to me, but he simply said, "With the proper equipment and tools, anything can be done." He also said he's taken a lot of my ideas to use in his own house. So there.

Your fellow is pulling that figure out of his bummmy to put you off. The thing is, he loses nothing if you say, "go for it," anyway!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:25PM
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You could change the switch to a different type that is the size of a single but is still a duplex. It would then be out of the way of the tile. You would have a small bit of dry wall repair but that is easy. Here is an example of one such switch

Here is a link that might be useful: Duplex light switch

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:59PM
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I was going to suggest the same as Badgergal. Consolidate the two switches into the one dual/single and push it far left. (I have a couple of those types of switches to save space.) I can't tell for certain from your camera angle if this would be enough space to clear the tile line. It would be close. If that won't give you enough clearance, then I recommend the same as everyone else--move it. I also think it can be done without taking down the cabs and would be worth it even paying a bit extra. I don't like the idea of tiling to the trim either. Otherwise, it's looking great!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:26AM
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In our case they left the existing junction box in the wall and wired another one from the existing one to the new one. The old one will be covered with backsplash material in our case.

Sorry, but this is not right. All junction boxes must be accessible; this would look worse than the way it is now. You could make the junction box accessible from the sunroom, if that would work, aesthetically.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:46AM
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The consolidated switch may be your best bet. I agree with Angie, where we live, junction boxes must be accessible, therefore, could not be covered up with drywall or tile.

If that doesn't work, I'd pay to have the switches moved under the cabinet so they're surrounded by tile, even if you have to take down the cabinet. After uninstalling and re-installing all our cabinets, I know it shouldn't be that hard for a cabinet installer to do it correctly.

You probably need to think about whether or not this is going to bug you forever, and if so, fix it now before the backsplash goes in.

Love your countertops. What material are they?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:19AM
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I meant to add also that if the dual- single switch misses clearing the tile by less than an inch, the 2x4 that the box is nailed to could be notched a bit to accommodate moving the box a little more to the left so that the switch will clear the tile. I think this would be easier moving the new type switch to the left than trying to move the current double switch over to the right were you had it penciled on the wall.
I had an electrician tell me an outlet in my bathroom could not be moved over and up a little bit but then a different electrician moved it without any difficulty. So you should insist it be moved one way or the other.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:27AM
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We had pretty much the same problem as you have except our original switch was above the bottom of the upper cabinet between the cabinet and the facing. Once the new cabinets went in, they were closer to the door than they were originally. Electrician said, no, he couldn't squeeze it into its existing location, and we'd have to move it down under the cabinet similar to where you want yours. We thought that would mean reaching down and over to turn the lights on and didn't want that (no offense that you want yours there). Anyway, DH kept insisting, so the electrician finally notched the 2 x 4 a bit and it worked. We just had to keep at him to do it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:54AM
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Thanks everyone,
We are going to look into different solutions directly with our electrician, since our contractor's response to our email was "if you make the tile guys leave some tile off and come back they will charge you more money." Duh...thanks for the insight buddy.
I'm so glad I posted and realized that yes, this is going to bother me so I need to take care of it. Clearly I was (am) suffering from reno exhaustion so thank you for the sanity check. I will keep you posted!

AnnaC, we love our granite. It's called golden crystal and I smile every time I walk in the room or cook and get to stare down at it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:49AM
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Elraes Miller

It looks like the duplex switch (pic) would fit just fine. Electrician would not have to do anything but rewire. No cutting, no stripping. Be smarter than he is and just show up with the switch. He'll know what to do from there and cost should not be what he quoted for this change.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:25AM
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labbie, there's one other tile consideration.
How good are they, or would it be obvious as to where they ended and started again? Would that thinset or mastic be the correct level, etc.

It sounded like the GC was the one telling you no, or did I misunderstand and it actually is the electrician? Some people just can't get it: You're the boss.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:49AM
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