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PVC Electrical Box Extenders for Tiled Backsplash

Electrical Box Extenders - Tile Layout - Grouting Tile


It is May 15th 2005 and I have finally started tiling my kitchen backsplash. I started my kitchen remodeling back in Dec. of 2004. Don't let the fact that you have no time keep you from remodeling your home. Just take your time and do things as you can, eventually you will get done. Tile can be attached directly to your current wallboard or plaster wall, you do not need to add any backerboard. You do need to sand and clean the area to remove paint gloss and grease so your tile mastic will adhere well.

Adding a tile backsplash is going to make your wall thicker than it was before. This means that your outlets will be too far back in the wall when you get done.. This problem is easily solved with the PVC Electrical Box Extenders shown below.

Turn off the electricity! Remove your cover plates and the screws holding your outlets or switches. Carlon PVC Electrical Box Extenders have no back on them, so you just slip them over your current outlet and slide them inside the existing electrical box. There is no need to undo the wiring.

Slide the electrical box extender inside the existing box and screw your outlet back in. Be sure your screw goes all the way through the outlet and the box extender and into the existing box.

If your home builder did a sloppy job like mine you may need to trim a little sheetrock from around the existing box. I used a box knife for this and also took the opportunity to clean out all the sheet rock trash that had been left in the existing outlet boxes.

When you have finished tiling you should take the opportunity to seal the gap between the electrical boxes and the sheetrock to prevent air infiltration. You can use caulk or a can of insulating foam sealant. Make sure the electricity is still off! You may want some foam Outlet and Switchplate sealers to keep out drafts.


As you can see from this image the outlet now comes out farther than the current wall. After the tile backsplash is installed they will be even with the wall. You may need to make final adjustments after the backsplash is installed.

You can buy dual gang box extenders for dual switches or outlets or do as I have done below and just cut the end off 2 boxes with a hacksaw and then put them together in the dual switch box.

Now you are almost ready to tile your wall. I am using 6" x 6" Mardi Gras tile and 1/8" tile spacers. I measured the 6" x 6" tile and found that it is actually 1/8" smaller than 6". I check to make sure the bottom of my cabinets are level and measure down 6". This is where I am going to start the first row. This will leave a 1/8" gap between the tile and the cabinets which I will later fill with caulk, not grout. Around your cabinets and countertop or wherever the tile meets different surfaces you should use caulk instead of grout. This allows for expansion and will help to prevent cracking as things move over the years.

Next I find the center of the wall, make a mark and do a dry layout on my tile. I find that this will leave less than half a tile on each end. Not a good thing, so I shift everything to the left and start in the corner. They say never to start in the corner, but hey, a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do. I am using a pre-mixed adhesive from Custom Building Products (Omnigrip® Ultimate Tile Adhesive) it is available at Home Depot and resists mold and mildow and shrinks 33% less than traditional tile adhesives. It is also 30% lighter than traditional adhesives which I think would be an advantage when using it on walls. This tile adhesive dries much slower than the thin-set mortar I used on my floors. It is also more like a caulk and easier to clean up than thin-set which is similar to cement. Though manufacturers say the pre-mixed adhesives can be used on the floor, everything I have read says don't do it. Use tile-set mortar for the flooring. Now that I have used both I agree.

I am using a low cost tile saw which makes cutting tile to fit around outlets a breeze. The main thing is to take your time and make sure you get your tile level. The pictures below show my progress on day one. As you can see I make quite a mess when I work, but things will look much better when I remove the tile spacers and clean up the ooze.

Most people install the backsplash after the countertop is in. I am doing things a bit different and doing the tile first. I removed the 4" backsplash from the old laminate top so that I can tile slightly below this level. When the new countertop is installed it will cover a bit of the tile. This means I don't have to trim the tile along the bottom, however that is not the reason I am doing it this way. Because of a bad plaster job when the house was built it is not possible to get my cabinets straight if they are flat against the wall. There is a bit of a gap between my walls and my cabinets. The added thickness of the tile will actually help to level things out a bit. It will also make it much easier if I decide to add a granite countertop later.

Almost to the top!


I am not a tile expert but if I can do this, you probably can too. The main thing is to have the right tools and to take your time. There is tons of free information on the Internet. If you don't understand something look around until you find the right information. Below are some links to help you out.


Ceramic Tile Installation Links

The Tile Doctor

Tile Backsplash & Countertop Installation

Hometime Ceramic Tile How To

Kitchen Backsplash Ideas & Installation Instructions

Order Electrical Box Extenders Online

Electrical Box Extender Image
White Box Extender
Dual Gang Box Extenders

Watch Electrical Box Extender Video



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