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Tile Backsplash - What they Don't Tell you #1: They don't tell you how to raise all the electric switches

Blog entry by MoshupTrail posted 06-23-2012 03:23 PM 5888 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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So you’ve finished your back splash and it’s beautiful! But there’s still a problem. All your plugs and switches are now recessed by 3/8 to 1/2 inch. So you run down to the store and buy these stupid little spacers, right? WRONG! Don’t even think about it. A bag of these spacers cost’s $5-6 and might be good for 4 switches. You’ll need at least two bags for all those extra switches you’ve just installed. Also, the kind I tried were a little too soft and they compressed as I tightened the screws making it almost impossible to get the right spacing.

Here’s the solution I found. It’s cheap. It’s effective, and super accurate.
So you still run down to the store, but instead of spacers you buy a 30” gray plastic faucet connector. ($1.50) The spacers made from this can be any length you want. It’s just about the right diameter and hard enough so it doesn’t compress. Hopefully you already have a PVC cutter. Also, get a bunch of 1 1/2” 6×32 screws. With the extra length you’ll need longer screws. No sense messing around when the fix costs 89 cents.

Here’s a series of photos that will tell the rest:

-- Measure twice, cut once.



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MoshupTrail

39 posts in 2579 days

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tile backsplash tricks idea

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10 comments so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4121 days

posted 06-28-2012 11:05 PM

Brilliant! I had this problem in my shop, 5/8” drywall, 3/8” boxes, and I should not have used plastic plates (and will probably replace ‘em with metal). I tried a couple of different materials, but couldn’t cut ‘em reliably. However, now that I’ve re-plumbed my house I have a good set of shears as you demonstrate above, and…

Yeah: Thanks!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View Craftsman on the Lake's profile

Craftsman on the Lake

70 posts in 3794 days

posted 07-03-2012 11:25 AM

About ready to put sheetrock over some old paneling all over the house. I wasn’t looking forward to using the box extensions either. This is a good alternative. Thanks.

-- Tryin'

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2584 days

posted 07-09-2012 01:27 AM

You definitely saved me a headache. Thanks much!

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2584 days

posted 07-13-2012 04:04 AM

I found those little tubes at a habitat for humanity resale store. 25 cents each. According to your pricing scale, I just paid 3.3 cents on the dollar. Thank you very much!

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

39 posts in 2579 days

posted 07-13-2012 10:28 AM

This gets better and better! Thanks for the feedback

-- Measure twice, cut once.

View joecot's profile

joecot

40 posts in 1933 days

posted 03-31-2014 11:51 PM

Where I live (San Francisco Bay Area) it wouldn’t pass inspection if there are air gaps between the box and the plate…

-- Joe Cottonwood -- 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses

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MoshupTrail

39 posts in 2579 days

posted 04-01-2014 12:16 AM

Oh. That’s a nuisance. So you either have to replace or extend the box, unless you seal all around the box to the tile and then seal the cover to the tile. Would they accept that?

-- Measure twice, cut once.

View joecot's profile

joecot

40 posts in 1933 days

posted 04-01-2014 05:25 PM

It’s up to the inspector’s discretion, but I’ve gotten away with sealing the gap with a bit of plaster or caulk or whatever’s handy. The tubing as a spacer is still a good idea if it happens to be the right thickness. I’ve used metal washers for spacers, but they’re kind of a pain.

-- Joe Cottonwood -- 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4121 days

posted 04-01-2014 05:40 PM

I went looking for a cite, and This EC&M Magazine Wiring Methods article cites 314.20 to say that you can have up to 1/4” from the surface of a non-combustible material to the lip of the box.

From a practical standpoint, I think the intent is fulfilled by filling that gap with plaster, but I’d much rather take off a wall plate to discover that the box is flush…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4121 days

posted 04-01-2014 05:42 PM

Oh, wait: this forum post quotes 406.4: “(A) Boxes That Are Set Back. Receptacles mounted in boxes that are set back from the finished surface as permitted in 314.20 shall be installed such that the mounting yoke or strap of the receptacle is held rigidly at the finished surface.”

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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