Simple Solutions

Cutting Drywall Around Outlet Boxes

By: Joe Truini

It’s easy to make a mistake when measuring and marking the location of electrical outlets on drywall. To prevent this from happening, coat the edge of the outlet box with brightly colored lipstick.

Position the sheet of wallboard in place, and push it firmly up against the outlet box.

This transfers the lipstick to the drywall, leaving an outline of the box on the back of the sheet.

Using a drywall keyhole saw, cut around the outside of the line.

Slide the sheet of drywall in place for a perfect fit every time.

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7 Comments on “Cutting Drywall Around Outlet Boxes”

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  • Marshall Dressel Says:
    January 8th, 2017 at 3:47 am

    The latest (and probably best yet) addition to the drywall cut out marker market are POINTS Mark The Spot! While other products claim to be great, they fit only one or two of the dozens of boxes marketed and used in construction. POINTS! fit everything! They are inexpensive and very easy to use. Their greatest and most amazing ability is to mark multiple boxes simultaneously…And the resulting cutouts are ALWAYS perfect in size and location. I have yet to talk to anyone who didn’t rave about them. Check out their video!

  • Itamar Says:
    March 12th, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks for the amazing tutorials.

  • Official Comment:

    joe t. Says:
    November 11th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Edd, Yes, installing drywall to a ceiling is much more difficult than to walls. Whenever I have more than two or three sheets to hang, I always rent a drywall lift; it’s well worth the added cost.

    The lipstick trick will work on ceilings, too, but I’d recommend using a drywall cutout tool, which is similar to a small router. It eliminates having to put up the sheet, mark it, take it down to cut, then put it back up. With the cutout tool, you simply put up the sheet, secure it with a few screws, then run the bit of the cutout tool around the ceiling box to cut the opening. Good luck!–JT

  • Edd Lawhon Says:
    November 11th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Handy tip for locating a box for drywall… How do I do this for ceiling boxes??? I know you could use the same process, but holding that panel up is a little more tricky.
    Any suggestions other than measure twice & cut once???
    Thank you, Edd

  • Blake Says:
    October 7th, 2008 at 11:15 am

    When we bought our house a year or so ago, there was a mini-chest with odds and ends left in the shop by the previous owners. We found two tubes of lipstick in one of the drawers and came up with some wild explanations. Case closed.

    Also, my wife always has a tube of lipstick she bought and never uses. Might as well use it for drywall and save a buck.

  • KurtRoedeger Says:
    June 6th, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Look at a welding supply store or a plumbing supply store. Or an autoparts store might have it. Or go to and search grease pen, you can get a new one for a little more than a dollar. Though an art store might have it as well, but I don’t know about that for sure.


  • KurtRoedeger Says:
    June 5th, 2008 at 5:04 am

    They make grease pens specifically for this purpose. They cost less and are usually easier to remove extra if you accidentally mark something you don’t want to. As an added bonus, I don’t have to explain why I have lipstick in my toolbox or tool belt to my friends. Cheapest route to go is get some colored kids sidewalk chalk, that doesn’t mark as well, but is even easier to remove and the cheapest. One big chunk will last years in your toolbox. Or kids watercolor paints. A couple drops of water in it so it’s kind of sludgy and use your finger to transfer it.
    You also only have to make a small mark at the four corners, no need to outline the whole thing.

    I understand the idea and it’s not a bad one, but there are better ways to go.

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Cutting Drywall Around Outlet Boxes