Adding outlets to your kitchen backsplash can provide convenient access to power for countertop appliances and devices. However, installing outlets in a backsplash requires careful planning and execution. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to do outlets with backsplash.
Gather Materials and Tools Needed
To install outlets in your backsplash, you will need:
- Electrical box extender kit – allows installing the outlet flush with the tile
- GFCI outlet – for protection
- Wire strippers
- Voltmeter – to test wires
- Tile drill bit
- Grout sealing caulk
- Caulk gun
- Tile cutting tool
Ensure you have proper safety gear like glasses and gloves. Allow easy access to the breaker panel to shut off power when working.
Choose the Right Location
First, determine the optimal spot on your backsplash to install the outlet. Consider the following:
- Proximity to countertop – outlets should be close to work areas
- Visible cords – avoid locations that lead to unsightly cords
- Appliance clearance – allow space for larger appliances if needed
- Avoid plumbing runs – keep outlets away from water lines behind the wall
Measure and mark the installation point with a pencil. Outlets installed between tiles or at grout joints tend to look more seamless.
Cut the Tile
Use the tile cutting tool to cut through the marked tile where the outlet box will sit. Make the opening slightly larger than the outlet box – a 1/4 inch clearance is ideal. Cut carefully to avoid cracking tile. Running tiles under warm water can help with cleaner cuts.
If cutting an outlet into multiple tiles, cut each one separately. Remove cutout pieces and prep the edges.
Install the Electrical Box
With the power off at the breaker, remove a section of the wall to access wiring. Install a recessed outlet box flush with the wall framing using screws.
An extender kit allows placing the box further out to mount even with the tile. Extenders come in different depths to match tile thickness.
Run Wiring to the Box
Run the necessary electrical wires into the outlet box. Typically, this includes one neutral, one ground, and one hot wire. Use wire nuts to connect outlet wires to supply wires from the breaker panel.
Leave pigtail wires long enough to connect the outlet. Check wires with a voltmeter before connecting anything.
Mount the Outlet
With wires secured inside, mount the outlet into the recessed box. Screw it in place making sure wires are tucked inside and the outlet is level. GFCI outlets should have the ‘test’ and ‘reset’ buttons accessible.
Apply silicone caulk around the outlet edges for moisture protection. Let it dry before proceeding.
Apply Grout Sealer
Before replacing tiles, seal around the outlet cutout with waterproof grout caulk. This prevents moisture from seeping behind the outlet. Apply caulk with the caulk gun in a smooth, watertight layer.
Set the Tiles
Carefully reinsert the outlet tiles around the electrical box. Make sure spacing between tiles matches the rest of the backsplash. Use tile spacers if needed.
Let adhesive fully cure before grouting. Clean any squeezed-out adhesive immediately to avoid staining.
Finish Grouting and Sealing
Once tiles have set, grout the gaps as normal, wiping away excess. Avoid leaving grout on the outlet surface.
After grouting is complete, apply a silicone sealant around outlet edges for water protection. Let it fully cure before using the outlets.
Restore Power and Test
With outlet installed, turn power back on at the breaker panel. Test it using a voltmeter before using. Verify the GFCI works by pressing ‘test’ then ‘reset’.
Be sure to never exceed the outlet amperage rating. Now you can safely use the new backsplash outlets!
FAQs About Outlets with Backsplash
How many outlets should I install in a backsplash?
One outlet should be sufficient for most tasks. But consider adding multiple outlets 3-4 feet apart for flexibility.
Is it safe to use outlets behind a sink?
Yes, with proper GFCI protection. GFCI outlets sense abnormal current flows and trip quickly, protecting from shocks.
Should backsplash outlets be GFCI protected?
Absolutely – kitchen outlets near water sources like a sink must be GFCI protected for safety.
Can I install an outlet over existing backsplash tile?
It’s possible but very difficult. Cutting into existing tile risks cracking. It’s better to install outlets before setting the backsplash.
What size breaker do I need for a kitchen outlet?
For a standard kitchen outlet, a 15 or 20 amp breaker is sufficient. Use a 20 amp breaker for larger appliances like a coffee maker.
Should I get a professional electrician for this project?
If comfortable working with electrical, a handy homeowner can install a backsplash outlet safely. But for complex jobs, hire an electrician.
Installing an outlet into your backsplash provides convenient access to power for the kitchen countertop. With careful planning and by following electrical safety precautions, you can add outlets directly into the tile design. Position outlets intelligently based on usage, and make sure GFCI protection is in place. With the right materials and some tile-cutting skill, you can create a built-in backsplash outlet that looks seamless. Just be sure to test thoroughly and use care when dealing with electrical systems.