How to Adjust Outlets for Backsplash


Installing a new backsplash in your kitchen can give it a fresh, updated look. However, you may find that your existing outlets end up awkwardly placed once the new backsplash is in. Adjusting the outlet placement is often necessary to achieve a seamless, professional look. With some planning and basic electrical work, you can move your outlets to accommodate your new backsplash.

A backsplash serves both form and function in a kitchen. Made from tile, glass, metal or other materials, a backsplash protects the wall from splashes and stains. It also acts as an attractive focal point and design element. When planning a new backsplash, take into account the current placement of outlets, switches and fixtures. You want everything to line up neatly once the project is complete.

Moving outlets to work with a new backsplash is a manageable project for a homeowner with basic DIY skills. With proper planning and attention to electrical safety, you can achieve a cohesive, integrated look. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to adjust outlets for a new backsplash installation.

Assessing Your Backsplash Plan

Before moving any outlets, you first need to finalize your backsplash design plan. Consider the following:

  • Backsplash material – Tile, metal, glass, and other materials come in a range of sizes. Measure the tiles or sheets you plan to use. This will determine outlet spacing.
  • Outlet placement – Mark where the outlets fall in relation to the backsplash area. Do they align with grout lines and tiles? If not, they will need moving.
  • Appliance and fixture placement – Note any appliances, switches or fixtures in the backsplash area. The new outlet positions should accommodate these.
  • Backsplash height – Standard backsplash height is 4 inches. But you can install it higher or lower. The outlet position should line up neatly with the top of the backsplash.
  • Countertop outlets – For outlets that serve countertop appliances, measure to ensure they will be accessible once the backsplash is installed.

Careful planning is key prior to moving any outlets. You want to end up with a professional look where outlets, tiles, and fixtures align.

Turn Off the Power

Electrical safety should always be your top priority. Before moving or changing any outlets, be sure to:

  • Shut off the circuit breaker for the kitchen outlets.
  • Test outlets with a voltage tester to be sure power is off.
  • Post signage advising others not to restore power during the project.

Lock out and tag out procedures may be required in some jurisdictions prior to electrical work. Check your local regulations.

Working on outlets with the power on risks electrocution. Always double check that the power is off before proceeding.

Remove the Existing Outlet

With the power safely disconnected, now you can remove your existing outlets. Follow these steps:

Materials Needed:

  • Voltage tester
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape


  1. Use a voltage tester to double check the outlet is powered off.
  2. Remove the cover plate screws with a Phillips screwdriver.
  3. Carefully remove the outlet from the electrical box. Note existing wire connections.
  4. Loosen terminal screws to detach wires one at a time using needle nose pliers. Tape the ends of each wire as you disconnect them.
  5. Remove the electrical box if you are moving to a new location.
  6. For boxes staying in the same place, clean interior of box and knock out any unneeded knockouts.

Work slowly and carefully while removing existing outlets. The goal is to disconnect everything safely so it is ready for reinstallation.

Choose New Outlet Position

Based on your backsplash plan, determine the optimal new position for each outlet. Consider:

  • Outlets should sit at least 4 inches above the counter.
  • They should align horizontally with grout lines, corners, appliances or other backsplash features.
  • Maintain at least 12 inches of clearance between outlets.
  • Avoid interference with cabinetry, appliances, or fixtures.
  • Allow adequate access to any outlets that will serve countertop appliances.
  • Outlets serving multiple appliances should be centrally positioned.

Mark the new outlet locations with painter’s tape on the wall. This will be your guide as you cut the drywall.

Getting the position right is crucial for the look you want. Take time to measure and visualize before cutting.

Cut New Outlet Openings

With your new outlet positions marked, now you can cut the drywall to create openings:

Materials Needed:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Drywall saw
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Outlet box


  1. Measure and mark a rectangle the size of your outlet box (usually 2×4 inches).
  2. Use the drywall saw to cut along 3 sides of the marked rectangle.
  3. Use a utility knife and screwdriver to cut the drywall layer on the 4th side.
  4. Gently knock out the drywall section to open the hole for the outlet box.
  5. Insert the outlet box into the hole. It should fit snugly. If not, adjust the hole size.
  6. Mark spots for any necessary anchor holes to secure the outlet boxes.

Cutting the drywall cleanly and precisely takes some practice. Work slowly to get smooth, straight openings. Additional drywall patching may be needed later for any ragged edges.

Run New Outlet Wiring

With the outlet openings cut, now you can run new wiring to each box:

Materials Needed:

  • 14/2 or 12/2 NM electrical wire
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire nuts


  1. Feed the new wiring from power source to each outlet box. Leave plenty of excess wire.
  2. Carefully strip the ends of the hot, neutral and ground wires.
  3. For metal boxes, attach the ground wire to the green screw on the outlet box.
  4. Twist matching wires together securely using wire nuts.
  5. Neatly tuck connected wires into the outlet box, leaving no bare wire exposed.

Getting clean, tight wire connections is critical for safety. Ensure no copper wire is exposed from loose connections.

Install New Outlet

You’re almost ready to enjoy your new backsplash and outlet positioning. Just a few more steps:

Materials Needed:

  • Outlet
  • Screwdriver
  • Cover plate


  1. Attach the outlet’s hot terminal to the black wire. The neutral terminal connects to the white wire.
  2. Fold wires neatly into the box so the outlet fits easily.
  3. Secure outlet to the box with mounting screws.
  4. Attach the cover plate straight and properly aligned.
  5. Caulk around the outlet edges for a clean finish. Let dry completely.

Take your time installing the outlet and cover plate neatly and properly. The surrounding tile work depends on it looking straight and positioned correctly.

Restore Power and Test

You’re ready to complete your project and enjoy the final results:

  1. Confirm all connections are tight, wires secure, and outlets flush to wall.
  2. Remove lock out/tag out signage from electrical panel.
  3. Restore power to the circuit at the breaker box.
  4. At each outlet, plug in a lamp or tester appliance to confirm proper operation.

If the outlets don’t operate as expected, double check connections and wiring. With a professional electrician if necessary.

Finishing Touches for a Flawless Look

Once you confirm proper electrical function, finish up with these steps:

  • Caulk around outlet plate edges if needed to ensure a snug fit to the wall.
  • Patch any drywall flaws or gaps around outlets with drywall compound. Sand smooth.
  • Paint over patched drywall once it is dry for a seamless look.
  • Install your backsplash tile, glass or other material up to the outlets.
  • Seal around outlets with silicone caulk where they meet the backsplash.

With careful planning and installation, your outlets should now look beautifully coordinated with your new backsplash. Enjoy a safe, professional looking result.


How much does it cost to move an outlet?

The cost to move an outlet averages $150-$300. Simple adjustments are toward the lower end while complex rewiring is more. Hiring an electrician is always safest.

Can I put tile around an outlet?

Yes, tile can surround outlets to integrate them seamlessly into the backsplash. Be sure to maintain the recommended 1/4 inch clearance between the tile and outlet edges.

What is the best height to place kitchen outlets?

Standard outlet height is 18 inches above the counter. For backsplashes, outlets should sit at least 4 inches above the countertop. Position horizontally in line with grout lines or backsplash corners.

Can I put an outlet right behind a sink?

Electrical codes prohibit outlets directly behind sinks or other plumbing fixtures. Allow minimum clearances of 12 inches vertically and 6 inches horizontally from water sources.

Where should outlets go in a 4 inch backsplash?

For a short 4 inch backsplash, position outlets about 6 inches above the countertop. Align them with the top of the backsplash for an integrated look.


Adjusting outlets to coordinate with a new backsplash results in a much more professional, integrated look. With proper planning and attention to electrical safety, it is a project a skilled DIYer can take on. Patience is key, as precise outlet positioning takes care and accuracy.

Hiring a professional electrician is always the safest route when moving outlets. They can ensure it is done properly while avoiding hazards. Take all necessary precautions, follow electrical codes, and turn the power off completely prior to any work.

With your outlets and beautiful new backsplash now in harmony, you can enjoy an updated kitchen look that is both stylish and functional. The end result will be worth the effort for a space you can be proud of.