Author Options:

ceramic tiles and electrical outlets? Answered

I'm installing ceramic tile as a backsplash in our kitchen.  My problem is my electric outlets. How do I make these flush or even with the tiles? 

Thanks you, Stumped Mom!


. You can buy spacers at your local electrical supply or hardware store. IIRC, they are called "gang box extentions"
.  If the tiles are thin, just don't screw the receptacle all the way back in. The center screw will help provide support, especially if you use a metal cover plate.

. PS: If you don't have a GFI breaker feeding the receptacles, spend the money to buy GFI receptacles. Could very well save your life.

AFCI receps for near-water installations in the US, as of last year I think.

. AFCIs are for fire protection (property). GFIs are for shock protection (people). Different creatures

Yes, but aren't they now required in the US?

. As kelseymh points out, they are only required in bedrooms at present and their purpose is different than that of a GFI.

I knew that they were different in operation, but I didn't know that the purpose/application was different. The electricians on the last residential job I was on were pissing and moaning about them (and some code changes) and putting them everywhere, but it WAS a slam-it-up tract house. I don't dispute that they may have erred; in fact I'd expect it. It wouldn't be the only electrical (or other) mistake made on that house...

.  Not many electricians (or engineers) know all of the NEC. Not that they are dumb, but It is a very large, extremely complex document with many exceptions to the rules. And it changes frequently. Local codes only add to the confusion.

I heartily agree. My father is an industrial electrician, and although he is retired he maintains his license and attends quite a few hours of continuing education classes each year. According to him, the issues are compounded by the gaps between the code, the available components, "standard practices", and the field conditions, all of which are rarely, if ever, addressed or rectified, and since he is a perfectionist, it really riles him up.

Nope. The last NEC update I know about (2005) still requires AFCI for bedroom installation, not water-adjacent. The AFCI protects against hot-neutral arcing, due primarily to worn insulation on appliances (e.g. old lamps). It does not project against current-to-ground faults.

Box extensions can make up for an extra deep problem.  They come in various depths.

If its not very deep, you can get away without the box extension, and just use longer screws to hold the recepticle flush against the tile surface, then the cover plate should mount flat.

Attached:  note the tabs on the outer corners near the mounting screws -- those should lay ON the final surface.


You didn't say where in the world you are. Different regulations/components in different countries.