Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can add style and protect your walls from splatters and spills. However, you may find that your existing electrical outlets are in the way of your new backsplash. Rather than relocating the outlets, which can be complicated, you can extend them to accommodate the extra thickness of the tile. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to safely and easily extend electrical outlets for a tile backsplash.
Planning the Outlet Extension
Before you start any electrical work, make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Verify the power is off by testing the outlets with a voltage tester.
- Measure the thickness of your tile and any additional layers, such as backer board or adhesive mats. This will determine how far you need to extend the electrical box away from the wall. Most tile backsplashes are between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick.
- Purchase a rectangular extension ring that will accommodate the extra depth needed. They come in different sizes and adjust from 1/2 to 1 inch.
- You will also need a longer screw to reattach the outlet once extended. Make sure it is long enough to secure the outlet after adding the extension ring.
Removing the Existing Outlet
- With the power off, remove the cover plate screws and set aside. Carefully pull the outlet out from the electrical box, but leave the wires connected.
- Loosen the screws holding the electrical box to the wall studs. These are typically located on the top and bottom of the box.
- Detach the box from the studs, but leave an inch or so extended out from the wall. You want enough room to slide the extension ring onto the existing box.
Adding the Extension Ring
- Slide the extension ring over the electrical box until it is flush to the wall surface. This positions the ring for the desired depth.
- Tighten the screws on the extension ring to secure it in place around the existing electrical box. Make sure the ring is centered and level.
- Use a pencil to mark the depth of the ring on the wall behind it. This will indicate how far out the box should be positioned.
- Push the electrical box back into the wall until it is flush with the marked line. Reattach tightly to the studs using the longer electrical box screws.
Reinstalling the Outlet
- With the extended box securely reinstalled, slide the outlet back into the box and reconnect the wires. Make sure the hot, neutral and ground wires correspond properly.
- Using the longer outlet screw, attach the outlet securely to the extension ring and electrical box.
- Install the cover plate and turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. Check that the outlet is functioning properly before tiling.
Tiling the Backsplash
Once the outlet has been successfully extended, you can tile up to the edge of the electrical box.
- Cut any tiles around the outlet box for a clean fit. You can also use a tile hole saw to cut circular openings for rounded outlets.
- Take care not to bump or apply pressure to the outlet when applying backsplash adhesive, grout and sealants.
- Allow all tile adhesives, grouts and sealants to dry completely before using the electrical outlet.
Extending the outlets for a tile backsplash takes a little bit of work, but allows you to seamlessly integrate the outlets into your new design. Always exercise caution when working with electrical wiring and outlets. With the proper planning and materials, you can safely extend outlets to work behind your beautiful new backsplash.
Frequently Asked Questions About Extending Outlets for Tile Backsplashes
How much does it cost to extend an outlet for a backsplash?
Extending an outlet for a backsplash costs between $5-$20 in materials, plus the cost of an electrical permit if required. You’ll need an extension ring ($3-$5), longer outlet screws ($1-$5), wire connectors ($1-$5), and possibly an electrical permit ($10-$50).
Can I extend an outlet without turning off power?
No, you should always turn off power at the circuit breaker when extending an electrical outlet. Working on outlets with the power on risks dangerous shocks. Verify power is off with a voltage tester before work begins.
How far can you extend an electrical box?
Electrical code allows boxes to be extended up to 2.5 inches from the wall surface without requiring a special deep electrical box. Extension rings up to 1 inch are commonly used for backsplashes.
Should I get a permit for extending an outlet?
Most areas require permits when modifying electrical wiring, including extending outlets. However, minor DIY jobs may waive the permit. Check your local ordinances to see if a permit is needed.
Can I use longer screws to extend an outlet?
No, simply using longer screws will not properly or safely extend an outlet. You need an extension ring anchored securely in the wall to move the entire outlet and box farther out to accommodate backsplash tiles.
What if my outlets are horizontally mounted?
Horizontally mounted outlets will require an L-shaped extension bracket instead of a flat ring. Disconnect the outlet, detach from the wall, install the L-bracket, and remount.
Can I tile over an existing outlet?
It’s not recommended. Tiling over an existing outlet can prevent cords from plugging in fully or create cracks in the tile from pressure on the plug. Extending the outlet maintains functionality.
Extending electrical outlets is an easy project for most DIYers when safety precautions are followed. With the right materials like extension rings, careful planning to determine the ideal positioning, and turning off power at the breaker box, you can modify your outlets to work seamlessly within your new backsplash. Paying attention to electrical codes and permit requirements further ensures your project passes inspection and provides safe, long-lasting results. With a few simple steps, you can preserve your kitchen’s functionality and style.