How to Do a Backsplash Around Outlets

A backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and protect the walls around your kitchen counters, stove, and sink from water damage and stains. But when it comes to outlets, installing a backsplash can get tricky. Outlets need to remain accessible and installing backsplash tiles around them requires some careful planning and precision. With the right preparation and technique, you can achieve a seamless, professional-looking backsplash design around your outlets.

Planning Your Outlet Backsplash

Before starting any tiling project, proper planning is crucial for success. Here are some tips for planning your backsplash installation around outlets:

  • Map out all outlets on your wall – Note their placement and proximity to countertops, cabinets, and corners. This will determine the tile layout.
  • Decide on your tile layout – Typical options are a running bond brick pattern or a simpler straight stack pattern. The layout will depend on the outlet placement.
  • Purchase extra tiles – Have at least 10% more tiles than you think you need to account for breakage, cuts, and errors.
  • Consider placing outlets higher on the wall – This allows more space below to integrate them into the backsplash design. Check local building codes first.
  • Use tile edging pieces – Bullnose, pencil liners, and other edging tiles help give the outlets a clean finished look.
  • Have materials and tools ready – Thinset mortar, grout, grout sealer, tile cutter, mixing bucket, trowel, sponges, tile spacers.

How to Tile Around a Kitchen Outlet

Once you’ve planned out your backsplash tile design, follow these key steps for a flawless finish around each outlet:

Step 1: Turn Off Power and Remove Cover Plate

Safety first! Turn off power to the outlet at the breaker before starting. Remove the outlet’s cover plate screws and set aside.

Step 2: Protect Outlet Interior

Cover the interior of the outlet with painter’s tape to prevent thinset, grout, and other debris from getting inside.

Step 3: Install Backerboard if Needed

If your wall already has backerboard installed, skip this step. If not, measure and cut cement backerboard to fit around the outlet box. Secure with screws.

Step 4: Apply Thinset Mortar

Apply a layer of thinset using a notched trowel over the backerboard and outlet box area. Maintain a 1/8 inch depth.

Step 5: Cut Tile Pieces

Measure and mark tiles to cut openings for the top and bottom outlets. Cut tile with ceramic nipper or wet saw. Test fit tiles.

Step 6: Install Tiles Around Outlet

Press cut tiles gently into thinset around outlet box. Use spacers for even grout lines. Allow tiles to set per thinset instructions.

Step 7: Let Tile Set and Remove Tape

Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting. Carefully remove painter’s tape from outlet interior.

Step 8: Grout and Seal Tiles

Grout tiles with non-sanded grout, tool into lines. Wipe excess. Seal grout once cured. Reinstall outlet cover plate.

Step 9: Caulk Edges

Caulk between tile edges and outlet with flexible silicone sealant. Smooth with wet finger. Allow to dry completely.

Tips for Cutting Outlet Openings in Tile

Cutting precise openings for outlets requires careful measuring and tile cutting:

  • Use the outlet box itself as a guide – trace its edges on tiles for cutting lines.
  • Cut openings slightly larger than the actual box – this ensures outlets can slide in and out.
  • Cut tiles with a wet saw for smooth, clean cuts. Use an old blade and slow feed rate.
  • Nip away small corners or use a rotary tool with a tile bit for detailed cuts.
  • Test fit cut tiles around the box and sand or trim as needed for a snug fit.
  • Use tile edge liners or bullnose pieces to finish the cut edges around outlets.
  • For multiple outlets, maintain the same height and spacing between each opening.

How to Finish Edges Around Outlet Backsplash

The edges where backsplash tiles meet outlets require some finesse for a seamless look:

  • If outlets sit higher than the counter’s backsplash, install tile edging along the top. Bullnose, pencil liners, or schluter strips help finish edges.
  • For outlets right on the counter edge, miter cut edge tiles at a 45 degree angle for a clean transition.
  • Seal all edges with a flexible silicone caulk – available in colors to match grout.
  • Take time smoothing caulk with a wet finger for a continuous sealed edge.
  • If needed, use a razor blade to carefully scrape off any dried caulk outside the joint lines.
  • Let caulk cure fully before reinstalling outlet cover plates and using outlets.

Solutions for Challenging Outlet Layouts

Some outlet configurations present unique backsplash tiling challenges. Here are solutions for three tricky scenarios:

Scenario 1: Double Outlets Vertically Stacked

Cut horizontal openings in tile to align with each plug rather than one large vertical opening. This maintains stronger tile sections and a nicer layout. Bullnose edging finishes the horizontal cut edges.

Scenario 2: Multiple Outlets Close Together

Try adjusting outlet placement further apart if possible for easier backsplash tile cutting. For outlets staying close together, cutting edge tiles into an L-shape allows slots that overlap the outlets while maintaining wide grout lines.

Scenario 3: Outlet Right Against Countertop Edge

Use a combination of bullnose edging along the countertop and miter cutting the outlet opening tiles for the cleanest transition. The mitered edges can align with the countertop’s profile.

FAQs About Tiling Around Outlets

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing backsplash around electrical outlets:

Should outlets be placed above or below backsplash?

Ideally outlets should be positioned just above backsplash height for easier installation. Local building codes may require a minimum height above countertops. Consider raising outlets higher when remodeling if allowed.

How much space should be left around outlets?

Its best to cut tile outlet openings 1/8 to 1/4 inch larger than the box itself. This extra room allows tiles to slide easily around outlets while keeping a snug fit.

What’s the minimum outlet height from a countertop?

Most building codes require outlet boxes to be positioned at least 12 inches above the countertop. Some locales may require 18-24 inches height. Check your local regulations.

Can backsplash tile go over the outlet box?

Technically yes, but this is not advisable. Covering the box makes outlet access difficult for repairs. The thickness of tile may also prevent plugs from fitting.

Should spacers be used around outlet openings?

Yes, tile spacers should still be used around all edges of outlet openings to ensure even grout line spacing. Place spacers as if the outlet was just another tile.

Is it OK to grout over the outlet interior?

No. Grout and thinset should be kept away from outlet terminal screws and wiring. Cover interiors with painter’s tape and remove it before grouting.


Installing backsplash tile around kitchen outlets adds stylish protection to your walls while avoiding potential water damage to outlets. With careful planning and tile cutting, outlets can be nicely incorporated into the backsplash design. Follow the techniques described above for measuring, cutting, edging, and grouting outlet openings in tile. Pay attention to detail around outlets and take time finishing edges for a seamless look. With some patience and the right methods, you can achieve a professional-looking backsplash around outlets that enhances your kitchen.

How to Do a Backsplash Around Outlets


A backsplash is an essential component of any kitchen renovation or new construction project. Not only does it provide an extra layer of protection from splashes and spills, it allows you to infuse style, color, and personality into your culinary space. For many homeowners, the most challenging part of installing a kitchen backsplash is properly tiling around the essential electrical outlets. With the right planning and preparation, creating a cohesive backsplash design around outlets can be straightforward. This article will provide step-by-step instructions, techniques, and tips for achieving a flawless backsplash installation around kitchen outlets.

Reasons for Tiling Around Outlets

There are several benefits to taking the time to incorporate outlets into your kitchen backsplash design:

  • It provides a more seamless, integrated look rather than just having outlets floating on the wall surface.
  • Tiling around outlets properly protects them from potential water damage from splashes and spills.
  • It avoids potential electrical shorts that could occur from liquid seeping behind improperly caulked outlets.
  • The finished look is more polished and meticulous when outlets are trimmed with tile edging pieces.
  • It demonstrates attention to detail in your backsplash installation.
  • Covering areas around outlets prevents gaps that allow dirt, grime, and insects to accumulate.

Preparing to Tile Around Outlets

Careful planning and preparation are key steps to tackle before tiling around kitchen outlets.

  • Shut off the circuit breaker supplying power to the outlet and use a tester to ensure power is off.
  • Remove any existing backsplash material from the outlet areas. Outlets should be flush to the wall surface.
  • Ensure the wall is flat and even. Install cement backerboard if needed.
  • Choose your tiles and appropriate edging pieces such as bullnose trim.
  • Have a tile cutter, carbide hole saw, ruler, pencil, and other tools ready.
  • Dry fit tiles on the wall before applying any adhesive to test layout.
  • Be prepared for the installation process to take longer than other areas.

How to Cut Tile Around Outlets

The key to achieving a seamless look is properly measuring and cutting the tiles around the outlets. Here is a step-by-step process:

  1. With the power off, remove the outlet covers. Use painter’s tape to cover the interior of the boxes to avoid getting thinset mortar or grout inside.
  2. Place whole tiles over the outlet area to determine where cuts are needed. Mark the boundaries.
  3. Use a ruler and pencil to carefully measure and mark the tile sections that will need to be cut. Extend the lines fully to the edge of the tile.
  4. Using a straight edge, score the lines with a utility knife. Go over the lines several times to penetrate the glaze.
  5. Place a wood block under the tile and snap pieces cleanly along the scored lines. Smooth any rough edges with an abrasive stone.
  6. Use a carbide hole saw to drill circular cutouts for each plug. Making a relief cut first with diagonal pliers allows cleaner holes.
  7. Use a rotary tool with a diamond blade to notch corners and trim off any small sections around the holes.
  8. Test fit the cut tiles around the outlets by sliding them into place. Sand or trim as needed to allow a snug fit.

Installing Backsplash Tile Around Outlets

Once the tiles have been cut properly, installing them around the outlets follows similar procedures as the rest of the backsplash.

  1. Apply thinset mortar to the area around outlets using a notched trowel.
  2. Press the pre-cut tiles into place firmly. Insert plastic tile spacers around all edges.
  3. Allow thinset to cure fully – around 24 hours. Avoid any traffic or contact with the tiles.
  4. Once cured, remove painter’s tape from outlets and inspect for any thinset or gaps.
  5. Mix non-sanded grout and apply over all tile joints using a rubber grout float.
  6. Clean excess grout with a damp sponge. Apply grout sealer once cured.
  7. Finish edges with bullnose trim or caulk where tiles meet countertop or outlets.
  8. Replace outlet cover plates once all materials have fully cured.

Tips for a Seamless Look Around Outlets

Here are some additional tips to follow for a seamless backsplash design around kitchen outlets:

  • Maintain the same grout line width around the outlets as the rest of the installation.
  • Use tile edge liners or bullnose pieces to give a clean finish to cut edges.
  • Caulk perimeter edges with a flexible silicone sealant that matches the grout color.
  • Make sure screw holes for outlet covers line up between tiles and caulk gaps as needed.
  • Consider raising outlets higher on the wall before tiling if allowed by local codes.
  • Take time smoothing caulk for a continuous look. Remove any excess when dry.
  • Allow all caulk and grout to fully cure before reconnecting power and using outlets.


Creating a backsplash design around kitchen outlets involves careful planning, precision cutting, and attention to detail when finishing trims and edges. With the right techniques however, you can achieve a seamless look that incorporates outlets into the design beautifully. Patience and care when cutting, installing, and grouting outlet openings will help any DIYer perform this task successfully like a pro. Follow the processes outlined here for a stunning backsplash around outlets that not only looks amazing but also protects them from potential water damage.

How to Do a Backsplash Around Outlets

Installing backsplash tile around electrical outlets requires careful planning and execution to end up with a seamless, professional look. Here are some key steps and tips to follow:

Planning Ahead

  • Map out outlet locations on the wall and how tiles can fit around them. Consider adjusting placement if possible.
  • Purchase around 10% extra tile to account for outlet cuts and errors.
  • Have the right tools – tile cutter, carbide drill bit, grinder, tile spacers, caulk gun.
  • Use tile edging trim like bullnose at outlets for a clean finish.

Cutting Tiles

  • Turn power off and remove outlet covers. Protect interior with painter’s tape.
  • Trace the outlet box outline on tiles for cutting guides.
  • Score lines with utility knife then snap tile pieces. Smooth cut edges.
  • Use carbide hole saw bit for circular outlet plug cuts. Grind for fine tuning.
  • Make cuts slightly bigger than outlet box for easier fitting. Test pieces.

Installing Tiles

  • Apply thinset mortar to wall and press cut tiles firmly into place around box.
  • Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout line spacing.
  • Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting. Carefully remove painter’s tape.
  • Grout and seal tiles. Smooth caulk where tiles meet outlet.

Finishing Outlets

  • Wipe away excess caulk with a damp cloth or scraper.
  • Allow caulk to fully cure before using outlets – around 24-48 hours.
  • Replace outlet cover plates, ensuring screws land on grout lines.
  • Caulk around screw heads or gaps between plate and tile.


  • Keep outlet openings uniform in height and position when spanning multiple outlets.
  • Stack tiles vertically rather than cutting a horizontal opening for double outlets.
  • For multiple outlets close together, use L-shaped edge tiles with slots to bridge boxes.
  • Raise outlets higher before tiling if allowed by codes for easier backsplash integration.

With careful prep and measurement, you can achieve a flawless backsplash design around outlets!

How to Do a Backsplash Around Outlets

Adding a stylish backsplash is a great way to update your kitchen’s look. When designing your backsplash, properly incorporating the kitchen outlets into the tiles can be tricky. With careful planning and the right techniques, you can achieve a cohesive backsplash design around outlets that looks professionally installed.


Proper planning is crucial before tiling around outlets. Consider the following:

  • Mark all outlet locations on the wall and measure their positioning. This will determine the tile layout.
  • If possible, move outlets higher on the wall. This provides more backsplash surface below.
  • Purchase 10-15% extra tiles to allow for outlet cuts and errors.
  • Have materials ready – thinset, grout, caulk, tile cutter, hole saw, etc.
  • Ensure backerboard is properly installed if needed. Outlets must be flush.
  • Map out your tile pattern and how cuts will integrate with outlets.
  • Turn off power at the breaker and remove cover plates before tiling.

Cutting Tiles Around Outlets

Careful tile cutting is key for a seamless look:

  • Cover outlet interiors with painter’s tape to avoid thinset and grout contamination.
  • Use the outlet box as a guide, tracing edges to mark cut lines.
  • Score lines with a utility knife then carefully snap tile pieces. Smooth rough edges.
  • Use a carbide hole saw for circular outlet plug cuts. Make relief cuts first with pliers.
  • Test fit tile pieces around outlet boxes. Sand or trim as needed for a precise fit.

Installation Tips

Follow these tips when installing tiles around outlets:

  • Apply thinset mortar to the backerboard area around outlets using a notched trowel.
  • Press cut tiles firmly into thinset around boxes, using spacers between tiles.
  • Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting, usually around 24 hours.
  • Mix non-sanded grout and pack it into tile joints. Wipe away excess.
  • Seal grout once fully cured, around 48 hours.
  • Finish edges with bullnose trim or caulk for a seamless transition.
  • Replace outlet covers once materials have cured. Screws should land on grout lines.

Achieving a Professional Look

Focusing on the detail work around outlets creates a cohesive backsplash design:

  • Take time smoothing caulk for a continuous, neat look around perimeters.
  • Remove any dried excess caulk with a razor blade after application.
  • Maintain the same grout line widths around outlets