Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Cover an Outlet when Bottom is Tiled & Top is Drywall

If you've added wall tile that ends mid-way up the wall (but not high enough to clear the top of your light switch or outlet), you'll run into a problem when you go to re-attach the cover.

Wall tile stops halfway up the electrical box.

You'll find 2 problems when trying to add the cover plate:
  1. The outlet will be sunken down into the cover.
  2. There will be a gap between the drywall and the top half of the cover.
Which, if you're reading this, you probably already know!

Continue reading to...

Learn how to cover an outlet when the bottom is tiled and the top is drywall.

*****Important Safety Note: Always turn off power to your electrical devices at the circuit breaker prior to making adjustments.*****

Solution 1: Use Spacers & An Outlet Cover Extender Ring

This 2-part solution involves lifting the outlet with spacers and filling the gap behind the cover with an extender ring. 

First, use spacers underneath your outlet, stacking however many are needed to lift it up to be flush with the tile surface.

Spacers fix sunken electrical outlets when adding tile, board & batten, paneling or another surface to your walls.

Then, place a half size gap extender ring on the tile ledge (going around the top of the electrical box) and tighten the cover over it.

Half-size ring wraps around top of standard electrical box.

These gap filler rings are 1/8" thick. You may stack them to match the depth of your wall tile.

The above solution is great when your tile ends half-way up your outlet box. But if your tile ends in a different spot, the next solution may work better.

Solution 2: Use Support Ring with Gaskets

Add a single-gang support ring underneath your switch or outlet. Like the green spacers in the above solution, this brings the device up to match the surface of the tile.

Your device will mount through the support ring into the electrical box - extra long screws may be required.

Cut foam gaskets to fit above the tile, and stack them to the depth necessary to fill the gap between the ring and the wall.

You can use caulk to seal around the edges along the top portion (over the gaskets). Then, carefully attach the cover plate.

Ideally, you'll want to plan ahead to be sure tile doesn't end mid-way up an electrical box. End your tile below or above it, or move the box up before tiling. (Be sure the allow extra space for the cover plate, which extends beyond the box in order to cover it fully.)

There are no perfect solutions for electrical devices that sit on top of both tile and drywall. But, these 2 options are better than leaving them uncovered altogether  or exposed due to a large gap behind the cover.