How to Adjust Outlets for Tile Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can add a beautiful, easy-to-clean accent wall. However, you may find that your existing electrical outlets end up awkwardly placed partway down the new backsplash. Adjusting the outlets to fit with your new backsplash is thankfully an easy process that you can tackle yourself. With some planning, the right materials, and safety precautions, you can move your outlets up or down so they sit neatly against your tiles.

Getting Started with Outlet Adjustments

When you decide to adjust your outlets for a new backsplash, there are a few things you need to gather before getting started:

  • Circuit tester – To turn off power and test that it’s off
  • Voltage sniffer – Double check power is off
  • Screwdrivers – For outlet removal
  • Drywall saw – For cutting drywall if moving outlet up
  • Utility knife – Helpful for drywall and outlet work
  • Electrical tape – For wire connections
  • Wire strippers – Removing outlet wire insulation
  • Drywall screws – Securing outlet box
  • Wall plates – New plates to fit outlets
  • Tiling supplies – To place outlets neatly on tile

You’ll also want to turn off the circuit breaker for the kitchen outlets before beginning. Use a circuit tester on the outlets to double-check power is off.

Always exercise caution when working with electrical wiring. Turn power off, verify it’s off with two types of testers, and work carefully to avoid any shocks or sparks.

Moving an Outlet Up for Backsplash

If your outlet sits lower than your planned backsplash height, you’ll need to move it up so it sits flush against the top. Here are the steps:

Materials Needed

  • Drywall saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape
  • Drywall screws
  • Drywall mud and tape

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Turn off the kitchen outlet circuit breaker and verify power is off with both a circuit tester and voltage sniffer.

Step 2: Remove the Outlet Cover

Use a screwdriver to remove the outlet cover screws and carefully remove the cover plate.

Step 3: Disconnect Wires

There will be several wires attached to the outlet. Carefully disconnect them using wire strippers. Pay attention to where each wire was placed.

Step 4: Remove Outlet Screws

Unscrew the outlet box screws from the wall and gently pull the outlet away.

Step 5: Cut Drywall Opening

Use a drywall saw to cut an opening above the existing outlet box hole. Make it large enough to fit an outlet box.

Step 6: Install Outlet Box

Place the outlet box in the new opening and screw it into place with drywall screws.

Step 7: Thread Wires

Thread the disconnected wires into the new opening and re-connect them to the outlet box terminals. Double check connections are tight.

Step 8: Install Outlet

Secure the outlet into the box and install an outlet cover plate.

Step 9: Patch Drywall

Make repairs to the drywall around the new and old openings with mud and tape. Sand once dry.

Step 10: Restore Power & Test

With repairs complete, turn power back on and test the outlet. Then you can continue with your backsplash!

Moving an Outlet Down for Backsplash

If your outlet sits higher than your planned backsplash, you can move it down in a similar process:

Materials Needed

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape
  • Drywall screws
  • Drywall mud and tape

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Shut off the circuit breaker for the outlet and verify with a circuit tester and voltage sniffer.

Step 2: Remove Cover Plate

Use a screwdriver to take off the outlet cover plate.

Step 3: Disconnect Wires

Disconnect all the wires from the outlet box. Make note of where each one was connected.

Step 4: Remove Outlet

Unscrew the outlet box and carefully pull it away from the wall.

Step 5: Prep New Opening

Trace an opening below the existing hole for the new box location.

Step 6: Install New Box

Secure the outlet box in the new opening with drywall screws.

Step 7: Thread & Connect Wires

Thread the wires into the new box. Re-connect them to the same terminals as before.

Step 8: Install Outlet

Secure the outlet in the box and screw on the cover plate.

Step 9: Patch Old Opening

Fill in the old box opening with mud and drywall tape. Sand smooth.

Step 10: Restore Power & Test

Turn the circuit back on, test the outlet, and resume your backsplash project!

Tiling Around Moved Outlets

Once you’ve adjusted the outlet placement for your backsplash tile, you can complete the tiling job. Here are some tips for a seamless look:

  • Use tile edge trim moulding around the outlet. This frames the outlet and provides a finished edge.
  • Adjust the outlet box depth so it sits flush with the tile surface.
  • Consider waterproofing the outlet box if it will sit directly behind the tiles.
  • Use a tile hole saw bit to cut tile pieces cleanly around the outlet.
  • Fill any gaps around the outlet box with caulk.
  • Finish by caulking the seams between the outlet trim moulding and tiles.

With careful tile cuts and trim, your moved outlets will blend right into your new backsplash!

Why Move Outlets for Backsplashes?

There are a few reasons you may want to take the time to adjust your outlets when tiling a backsplash:

  • Aesthetics – The outlet will look more seamless and intentional placed at the top of the backsplash instead of awkwardly in the middle.
  • Cord clearance – Cords and plugs will be able to clear the backsplash better with the outlet moved higher.
  • Easier installation – You avoid having to cut tiles around the outlet or remove tiles later if the outlet needs work.
  • Resale value – It shows attention to detail that makes the backsplash installation look more appealing.

Taking the extra step to move your outlets results in a more functional, seamless backsplash that looks like it was designed that way.

Electrical Safety Tips

Whenever you work with electrical wiring, it’s crucial to exercise caution. Accidents involving electricity can be deadly. Here are some top safety tips when moving or adjusting outlets:

  • Turn off power at the breaker and verify it’s dead with a circuit tester and voltage sniffer before wiring.
  • Only work on small sections of wiring at a time, reconnecting each before moving to the next.
  • Connect wires properly by matching colors and terminal locations.
  • Ensure tight connections by wrapping clockwise and tightening screws securely.
  • Use insulated tools and avoid working with wet hands or surfaces.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes while working.
  • Keep flammable materials away from wiring work.
  • Plug in and test each outlet after completing adjustments.
  • Call an electrician if unsure of any wiring steps.

Following safety procedures reduces your risk of injury while moving outlets.

Frequently Asked Questions About Adjusting Outlets for Tile Backsplashes

What tools do I need to adjust an outlet for a backsplash?

Common tools needed are a screw driver, wire strippers, voltage sniffer, circuit tester, drywall saw, utility knife, and electrical tape. You may also need a drywall repair kit.

Is it safe for a homeowner to move an electrical outlet?

It’s safe with proper precautions like turning off power, verifying it’s dead, and reconnecting wires correctly. Exercise extreme care when working with electrical. If ever unsure, call an electrician.

How high should outlets be placed above a backsplash?

Standard outlet height above a 4″ tall backsplash is 44″ to center. Increase height by 1″ for every 2″ your backsplash exceeds 4″ in height.

Should outlet screws face up or down behind a backsplash?

Outlet screws should face down behind a backsplash for a cleaner look. The cover plate will hide them. Upward facing screws are fine otherwise.

Can I add an outlet without cutting into drywall?

Unfortunately outlets must be secured inside the wall, requiring cutting into drywall. Surface mounted wiremold boxes are an option but not as aesthetically pleasing.

Is it okay to tile around an existing outlet?

It’s better to move outlets up so they sit flush along the top edge of the backsplash. Outlets surrounded by tiles often look poorly integrated.

Can I adjust outlet height on my own if I’m not highly experienced?

Carefully follow safety procedures and you don’t need professional electrical expertise. Focus on one outlet at a time and call an electrician if ever unsure.


Adjusting your electrical outlets to work with a new backsplash tile installation is straightforward with good preparation and safety practices. Turning off power, moving one outlet box at a time, reconnecting wires properly, and verifying functionality are the key steps whether moving outlets up or down.

Paying attention to details like drywall patching, screwing in outlet boxes securely, caulking seams with tile, and adding trim molding results in a finished backsplash with outlets that look neatly integrated. While care needs taken when working with electrical wiring, you can definitely DIY moving outlets with caution. Just be sure to call in an electrician if any wiring steps leave you unsure. With the right adjustments, you can gain outlet positioning that fits beautifully into your new backsplash design.