How to Shim Out Electrical Outlet or Switch When Installing a Tile Backsplash

By: Danny Lipford

If I add a tile backsplash to my kitchen, the electrical outlets and switches will no longer be flush with the new tile, and the cover plates won’t screw back onto the outlet. How can I fix this problem? – Roxanne

Hi Roxanne,

In the past the solution was to remove the screws holding the electrical outlet or switch, replace them with longer screws, and use washers or nuts to shim out the gap between the old wall and new. A safer and better solution today is to add an electrical box extender – available at home centers – to the existing box.

An electrical box extender is basically an outlet box without a back. To install an extender on an existing electrical box:

  • Turn off the power to the outlet or switch at the circuit breaker or fuse.
  • Remove the screws holding the outlet or switch in place.
  • Pull the outlet or switch out from the existing box.
  • Slip the box extender over the outlet or switch and onto the existing box.
  • Screw the outlet or switch back into the box extender.
  • Turn the power back on.

You don’t even have to remove a single wire from the outlet!

Good luck with your project,


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2 Comments on “How to Shim Out Electrical Outlet or Switch When Installing a Tile Backsplash”

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  • Euka Says:
    April 21st, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Can I leave the existing electrical outlet, and install bead board or wall panel just cutting out for the electrical out let ? Does that disagree the safety code?

  • sue Says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 10:17 am

    thank you so much i was really worried how i was going to do this

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