How to Install Stone Backsplash Around Outlets

Installing a stone backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can add an elegant and stylish touch. However, working around pre-existing outlets requires some careful planning and execution. Proper preparation and following safety precautions will ensure your stone backsplash installation around electrical outlets is successful.

Planning Your Stone Backsplash Around Outlets

When planning to install stone tile around existing outlets, there are a few important factors to consider:

Choose Appropriate Backsplash Materials

Select stone backsplash tiles that are not too thick or heavy. Standard backsplash tiles are often 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick. Go with a lighter weight, thinner tile to make cutting and outlet installation easier. Natural stone tiles like travertine, marble or granite should work well.

Gather Proper Tools

You will need a wet saw or tile cutter to precisely cut the outline of the outlets into the stone tiles. Using a ruler and marker to measure and mark the openings prior to cutting is crucial. A drill and masonry drill bits will be needed to drill any necessary holes. Have grout, grout sealant and all backsplash installation supplies on hand.

Turn Power Off

Always turn off the power at the breaker before working around outlets. Verify power is off by plugging in a device and checking for power flow. De-energizing outlets as you work ensures safety.

Mind the Gap

Pay attention to the thickness of the tiles, thinset mortar and any underlayment to ensure the backsplash surface will be flush with the outlet surface after installation. A gap larger than 1/8″ between the outlet and stone tile could be unsafe or code violating.

Install New Outlet Boxes If Needed

If the existing outlet boxes are recessed too far into the wall for the backsplash tile thickness, you may need to remove them and install new rework outlet boxes that extend out farther to compensate for the extra depth.

How to Cut Outlets into Stone Backsplash Tile

Carefully measure, mark and cut accurate openings for each outlet into the backsplash tiles:

Mark the Outlines

With the power off, use a ruler and pencil to very carefully measure and mark the exact position and opening needed for each outlet or switch on the stone tiles. Mark the full rectangular box shape so you cut the most accurate opening possible.

Cut with a Wet Saw

For best results, use a wet saw to cut the outlet openings into the stone tile. A wet saw uses water to keep the stone tile cool while cutting to prevent cracking or chipping. Cut very slowly and steadily.

Drill Holes for Corners

At the inside corners of the outlet opening, drill a 1/4″ hole into the corner. This allows you to cut in from the edge to the hole so you don’t crack the thinset mortar or tile edge.

Cut Out the Outline

Very carefully cut out the marked rectangular outline of each outlet into the backsplash stone tiles. Take your time and try not to rush this crucial step. Smooth any rough edges with a rubbing stone.

Test Fit

With the outlets still de-energized, do a test fit by placing the cut out tiles around each outlet to ensure the openings are just the right size. File down any problem areas until tile outlets fit perfectly.

Installing Stone Backsplash Around Outlets

Once tile openings are prepped, start your backsplash installation:

Apply Thinset Mortar

Apply a layer of thinset mortar to the wall area where you’ll install the backsplash according to manufacturer instructions. Take extra care to fully coat the exterior edges of the outlet and switch boxes.

Press Tiles into Place

Carefully press the stone backsplash tiles with pre-cut outlet openings firmly into the wet thinset on the wall. Use plastic tile spacers around outlet openings. Ensure proper tile alignment as you work.

Let Thinset Set and Finish Grouting

Allow thinset mortar to fully cure per manufacturer directions before continuing. Finish grouting all tiles, carefully grouting around outlets. Avoid getting grout inside the boxes. Seal grout once cured.

Seal Edges

Once grout has fully cured, apply color-matched silicone caulk around the interior edges of the outlet cutouts for extra moisture protection and to finish any small gaps.

Helpful Tips for Outlet Stone Backsplash Success

Here are some additional pointers to get professional looking results:

  • Take your time and don’t rush the careful tile cutting steps.
  • Ensure backsplash stones are fully supported and stable around outlets.
  • Mind wall thickness so backplash lays flush with outlet surface plane.
  • Minimize outlet box recession depth for fewer tile cutting headaches.
  • Consider hiring an electrician to update old outlets for new stone backsplash.
  • Invest in premium quality wet saws and tile cutters for intricate outlet cuts.
  • Use tile edge smoothing tools to finish outlet openings cleanly.
  • Apply painter’s tape around outlets to prevent thinset and grout contamination.
  • Perform multiple test fits of cut tiles to ensure consistently perfect sizing.
  • Follow all recommended thinset, grout and caulk drying times for strength.
  • Carefully wash any grout or caulk residue off outlets to maintain aesthetics.
  • Verify full outlet functionality prior to completing the project.

With the right preparations and techniques, upgrading your backsplash with stylish stone tile can be a stunning and rewarding upgrade for your kitchen or bathroom. Just take it slowly and follow safety procedures when working around outlets and electricity. Patience and care will ensure your outlets blend beautifully into your new stone backsplash design.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Stone Backsplash Around Outlets

Can I use a score and snap cutter instead of a wet saw?

It is not recommended. The small and intricate outlet openings in stone tile require the precision that only a wet saw can provide. Score and snap cutters are more likely to shatter the thin stone tile.

What thinset mortar is best for natural stone tile?

Use a high quality, polymer-modified thinset specifically designed for natural stone. This type of thinset provides a stronger bond and accounts for the natural irregularities in the stone.

Should I remove the outlet covers before or after cutting the tile?

It’s best to keep the outlet covers and plates on during the cutting process to fully expose the boxes for accurate measurements and cut-out marks. Remove them after cutting before you install the tiles.

Can any gaps be left between the outlet and backsplash tile?

No, gaps larger than 1/8″ could violate electrical codes. They also present moisture intrusion risks. Any gaps should be filled with color matched silicone caulk.

What is the typical height of a stone backsplash around outlets?

The most common height is 4 inches. This allows the majority of outlets to be fully visible and accessible after backsplash installation. Adjust to your specific electrical box placement.

How do I cut the thin stone backsplash tiles without breaking them?

Work slowly and steadily with a wet saw using a diamond tile saw blade. Minimize pressure applied and let water do the cutting work. Score the cut line multiple passes rather than trying to cut through in one pass.

Should outlets be replaced with longer boxes before adding stone backsplash?

If the existing boxes are recessed more than 1/4″ from the wall surface, it is wise to replace them with new electrical boxes that extend out farther to accommodate the extra backsplash thickness.

Is it okay to get thinset and grout in the outlet boxes?

No. Contaminants could lead to electrical shorts. Cover outlets with painter’s tape prior to spreading thinset to protect them. Avoid smearing grout near boxes. Immediately wipe any grout or thinset inside the boxes.

How long should I let the thinset cure before grouting around outlets?

Check the thinset manufacturer’s recommendations, but typically 24-48 hours is advisable for curing before grouting. This allows it to fully harden to withstand grouting pressure near the delicate outlet edges.

What is the best way to grout near outlet holes without getting grout inside?

Use thickened epoxy grout instead of standard cement grout around the outlets. It sticks to vertical edges better. Use a silicone grout float designed for corners to press epoxy grout into corners near cutout holes. Remove any excess immediately with a damp sponge.


Installing stone backsplash tile around existing outlets adds work, but is very doable with the right products, tools and techniques. Precision planning is needed to ensure a code compliant, safe finished product. Patience pays off by preventing cracked tiles or sloppy caulked edges around outlets. Now you have all the information needed to expertly cut and install outlet openings into stone backsplash tile. Just follow safety guidelines, measure twice, and cut carefully for stunning results!