Adding a kitchen backsplash can improve the look of your kitchen while also protecting the walls from splashes and spills. However, you may need to figure out how to incorporate pre-existing electrical outlets into your new backsplash. There are several creative ways to hide electrical outlets behind your backsplash while still keeping them functional.
Assess the Existing Electrical Outlets
Before deciding how to hide the electrical outlets, take some time to assess their current placement and condition.
- Make note of where all the outlets are located and how far they are from countertops, sinks, and other key kitchen features. This will help you determine if you need to relocate any of them.
- Check that each outlet is still securely fastened to the wall and is in good working condition. Faulty or loose outlets should be replaced.
- Determine if the outlets are GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets. GFCI outlets are now required by code for kitchen receptacles located near sinks.
- Check the amperage rating of the circuits to make sure they can handle any newer high-wattage appliances you may want to use. Consider upgrading to 20-amp circuits if needed.
Taking stock of your outlets will help you formulate the best game plan for incorporating them into your new backsplash.
Relocate Outlets If Needed
If you determine that any of the outlets need to be moved, this would be the time to relocate them. Moving outlets higher up the wall is often optimal for allowing installation of a full backsplash. Home electrical codes generally require kitchen receptacles to be placed between 4” and 5’6” above the floor.
When relocating outlets, here are some key steps to follow:
- Turn off the home’s main electrical breaker before doing any electrical work. Verify power is off at the outlet with a circuit tester.
- Remove the outlet mounting screws and gently pull the outlet box away from the wall. Take care not to touch any exposed wires.
- Extend the existing electrical wires as needed to reach the new outlet location. Use the proper gauge electrical wire for the extension.
- Cut the drywall at the new outlet box location, install an old work box if needed, pull the wires through, and secure the box to the wall.
- Reconnect the outlet, verify proper wire connections, and secure the outlet to the box.
- Patch drywall as needed and repaint the wall once finished.
Hiring an electrician is recommended if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself. Properly moving outlets maintains safety.
Choose a Backsplash Design that Conceals Outlets
Selecting the right backsplash design is key for seamlessly incorporating electrical outlets. Consider these backsplash ideas that can conceal outlets:
Carefully mapping out your backsplash tile layout can allow you to place tiles strategically around outlets.
- Use whole tiles above/below outlets instead of cutting tiles. This creates cleaner lines.
- Frame outlets with vertical columns of tiles or mosaic sheets.
- Use a ledger board for easier tile alignment around outlets.
- Choose a symmetrical tile pattern that draws the eye away from the outlets.
Solid Backsplash Panels
Options like granite, marble, or quartz slabs can cover outlets nicely, especially if using full height sheets. Just cut out outlet holes carefully with a diamond blade on a circular saw. Polish cut edges.
Overlapping brick veneer tiles can completely hide outlets seamlessly. Cut bricks accurately around the sockets with an angle grinder and masonry blade.
Faux metal, wood, stone, or other panels can create a custom backsplash look. Use trim pieces around the outlets for a builtin look.
Shelves mounted in front of the backsplash are great for concealing outlets while adding display space. Just be sure to allow proper clearance.
Install Outlet Covers Behind the Backsplash
Installing specialized outlet covers behind your backsplash finish creates a streamlined look. Choose durable, high-heat outlet covers made specifically for use behind backsplashes.
Metal Outlet Covers
Stainless steel or aluminum outlet covers are ideal outlets behind a backsplash. Get extra duty commercial grade metal covers made for tile backsplashes. Ensure the metal extends beyond the outlet box edges.
GFCI Outlet Covers
GFCI outlet covers are available in stainless steel and are required by code for kitchen outlets near sinks. Self-closing covers add protection when an outlet is not in use.
Heavy-duty weatherproof covers meet code requirements for wet areas. Look for in-use style covers to allow plug access through the tile.
Use the metal cover itself as a template to cut the backsplash opening for a custom fit. Make sure the cover screws align with the outlet box screw holes.
Secure Outlet Covers Properly
Take steps to ensure outlet covers are securely mounted behind the backsplash:
- Clean away old caulk, sealant, or debris around the outlet box.
- Apply a generous bead of tile sealant around the edge of the outlet box prior to setting the cover plate.
- Attach the outlet cover using the provided screws. Do not overtighten.
- Allow the sealant to fully cure for 24-48 hours before installing backsplash.
- Once backsplash is installed around the outlet cover, apply additional silicone sealant along the edges for water protection.
Take care to keep outlet covers straight and properly aligned during installation for the best appearance.
Test Outlets Before Completing Backsplash
It is critical to verify proper outlet function after installing outlet covers and before completing the backsplash:
- Test each outlet for power with a circuit tester. Verify lights, fans, or other kitchen appliances are operating normally when plugged into outlets.
- For GFCI outlets, test the self-test and reset buttons to confirm proper function. Press reset firmly until the button clicks and remains in place.
- Address any non-working outlets immediately. This may involve removing tile to access the outlet connections if needed.
- Use a contactless electrical tester regularly once the backsplash is finished to monitor outlet grounding and voltage.
Proper electrical testing ensures your new backsplash doesn’t end up concealing underlying outlet issues.
Apply Backsplash Carefully Around Outlets
Exercise care when installing the backsplash material around outlet covers:
Leave Clearance Behind Outlets
Avoid applying backsplash products too tightly behind outlets. Leave at least 1/8″ clearance behind outlet coverplates.
Tile Around Edges
When tiling, slide tiles into position carefully to avoid knocking outlet covers loose. Avoid very narrow tile slivers around outlets.
Clean Excess Tile Adhesive
Immediately clean away any excess thinset or mastic that squeezes out from tile edges around outlets to prevent drying.
Use silicone sealant to fill any small gaps between the backsplash and outlet edges for both visual appeal and water protection.
Avoid Bulky Plugs
Choose flat plugs or right-angle plug adapters to maximize room behind backsplash for plug access. Test each outlet for fit.
Check for Damage
Keep an eye out for any cracks, chips, or damage that occur around outlets when installing the backsplash and make repairs promptly.
Maintain Proper Outlet Spacing
Maintaining proper spacing guidelines between electrical outlets is an important safety consideration, even when concealing outlets behind the backsplash:
- No outlet spacing should exceed 12 feet in kitchen counter areas. Space outlets accordingly.
- Islands or peninsulas wider than 12” should have at least one outlet.
- Ensure outlet spacing allows flexibility for kitchen appliances and equipment. Avoid overloading outlets.
- Never remove an existing outlet without replacing it with one in the same vicinity. No point along a wall space should be left without an outlet.
- Make sure outlets around sinks remain GFCI protected, even if moved to accommodate backsplash installation.
Checking that outlet spacing around the kitchen still aligns with electrical code standards helps provide safe, consistent power.
Hide Wires for a Streamlined Look
For the most cohesive, built-in appearance, take steps to conceal any exposed wires behind appliances or running across backsplashes surfaces:
There are various styles of cord covers that blend in seamlessly with backsplashes to hide appliance wires. Match material and color.
Electrical wires can be routed inside the wall to a low-profile, tileable J-box installed behind the backsplash.
Adhesive wire channels are available to neatly adhere wires to backsplash surfaces to conceal them. Select subtle colors.
Use paintable electrical tape to match wire colors to backsplash finishes for camouflaging.
Plug appliances in so that excess cord can be routed behind them, out of sight.
Taking the time to properly conceal any exposed cables keeps your backsplash looking clean.
Troubleshoot Electrical Issues
Despite best efforts, electrical issues may still arise when installing a backsplash around pre-existing kitchen outlets. Some possible problems and solutions include:
If an outlet feels loose behind the backsplash, remove some tile to secure it with additional sealant or screws.
Check breakers and GFCI resets if an outlet stops working after backsplash installation. Test with another appliance.
Replace GFCI outlets that fail to reset properly or frequently trip after backsplash installation.
Carefully cut away and replace any cracked tiles surrounding outlets to maintain water and fire safety.
Tiles or backsplash material packed too tightly behind outlets can cause plugs to not fit. Adjust spacing.
Any improper outlet spacing, amperage, GFCI placement, etc should be remedied ASAP. Consult an electrician.
Addressing any electrical malfunctions promptly maintains safety.
FAQs About Hiding Electrical Outlets Behind Backsplashes
Can you tile over electrical outlets?
Yes, it is possible to tile over electrical outlets, provided proper waterproof outlet covers made for this purpose are installed first and clearance is allowed behind the cover for plugs.
Do outlet covers installed behind backsplash need to be grounded?
Proper grounding of electrical outlets should be maintained even when they are concealed behind a backsplash. Look for backsplash outlet covers that include a ground screw or grounding clip.
What is the easiest backsplash to install around outlets?
Backsplash materials such as peel-and-stick tile, faux panels, or floating shelves can be installed around outlets more easily than traditional tile. These options involve less precision cutting.
Can backsplash tile cause electrical problems?
If not installed correctly, backsplash tile could potentially press too tightly on outlet boxes, displace wires, or allow moisture intrusion leading to electrical issues. Prevent problems by using outlet covers and sealant.
How do I fix an outlet that doesn’t work after installing a backsplash?
First ensure the outlet is well secured behind the tile and has power coming to it. If the issue persists, the outlet wires likely need to be accessed and reconnected securely. Call an electrician for repair.
Hiding electrical outlets while maintaining their function and safety is achievable with careful planning and proper materials. Incorporate your backsplash elegantly around outlets for a cohesive finished look.
Installing a kitchen backsplash provides the opportunity to enhance both the appearance and function of your cooking space. Fixtures like electrical outlets that are already present in your kitchen walls can be gracefully accommodated as part of your new backsplash design. With strategic outlet relocations, tasteful backsplash material choices, safe outlet cover installation, proper electrical testing, and conscientious installation around outlets, you can artfully hide outlets behind your backsplash while retaining their utility. Paying close attention to detail as you determine the most creative ways to conceal existing outlets will ensure the finished look is both beautiful and compliant with electrical codes for safe ongoing use. With the right approach and materials, hiding electrical outlets in kitchen backsplashes can be a seamless DIY project that takes your kitchen décor to the next level.