How to tile around electrical sockets

Written by kevin mcdermott
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Tiling around an electrical socket presents two challenges: The layout of your tile has to ensure that you don't end up with a very thin tile cut around the electrical box, which is difficult to make and looks awkward on the wall; and you have to find a way to bring the socket outward so that it's still sitting flush against the wall after you add the 1/4 inch or so of thickness from the tile. Careful layout of your tile will solve the first problem. An inexpensive plastic contraption called a "box extender'' will solve the second.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic electrical box extender (looks like a plastic electrical box, but has no back)
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Tile
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile adhesive
  • Notched trowel
  • Pre-mixed grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Use your screwdriver to remove the socket plate. Unscrew the two mounting screws holding the socket in its box, and pull the socket outward, letting it hang from its wires.

  2. 2

    Slip your plastic box extender over the front of the socket, pulling the socket and wires through it. Press the extender against the outer border of the electrical box. Line up the screw holes between the extender and the box. Re-mount the socket with its mounting screws, putting them through the lined-up screw holes of the extender and the box.

  3. 3

    Lay out your wall tiles, using your tape measure, level and pencil to determine where the tiles are going to end up relative to the socket. If there is going to be a tile cut of smaller than 1 inch on any side of the box, then readjust your layout to make that cut bigger than 1 inch.

  4. 4

    Hang your tiles starting at the bottom of the wall, spreading tile adhesive on the wall with your notched trowel and pressing the tiles into place. When you get to the electrical box, measure and cut the tiles with your tile cutter so the cut side of each tile faces the side of the extender and almost touches it.

  5. 5

    After the tiles set, grout them by spreading your pre-mixed grout over the surface with your grout float, pressing the grout into the lines and wiping it off the surface with your sponge. Don't grout between the cut edge of the tile and the box.

  6. 6

    Let the grout set for a day. Put the socket plate back on the box. Turn the power back on.

Tips and warnings

  • Never work on an electrical system without first turning off the power at the circuit box.

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