Should You Tile Around An Outlet? Here’s The Truth

House renovations can be a tough thing to work through. There are many decisions about how to deal with what looks best and what will be safe. One such question is tiling around outlets, and if it can be done.

Tiling around outlets is safe to do and can look very good when done properly. The tile must be cut properly and spaced evenly. Tiles are ceramic platings that add to the finished product of a house and as such will most likely be placed around outlets.

There is a lot to take into account when dealing with tiling and outlets so keep reading to figure out the best way to install them around the outlets.

Outlet Dangers

Before you begin your project remember that outlets can be very dangerous as their purpose is to conduct electricity into a specific area. Make sure to shut off the power to the specific outlets before unscrewing the outlet from the wall. It can be dangerous to stick a metal screwdriver near an outlet when it is still live.

Tiling Materials

Before you start tiling you are going to want to make sure that you have the proper materials needed to make things flow as easily as possible. The materials are pretty simple and I will briefly explain each tool and item.

Tile Adhesives

The tile is going to need something to stick to the wall. Adhesives can be found at your local hardware store. The employees at the store will know about specific brands that work well, but a thin-set tile mortar will work the best for indoor projects.

Tile Spacers

Tiles, for the most part, are not meant to rest against each other. They have a space of 1/16 of an inch for wall tiles. When tiling, purchase some spacers that will create this space equally throughout the wall. It will help the finished project look clean and well put.

Notched Trowel

A notched trowel is used to spread the thin-set tile mortar creating ridges for surface grip. This gives the best chance for the mortar to set with tiles properly sticking to the wall.


Grout is much like a mortar that is used to fill in the spaces between each tile plate. This gives the wall structure and keeps the space between each plate stable. The grout is an important step to tiling that happens last, but one of the most crucial.

Grout Float

To grout properly, you will need to have a grout float to spread the grout and to work it into the correct space for greater support. Grout floats come with soft and hard edges, but it is suggested to get a hard-edged one to properly work in the grout.

Wet Tile Saw

To tile around an outlet, you will have to cut a tile and the best tool to use for this is a wet tile saw. It will accurately cut the tile where you want it without creating any additional cracks or breaking any pieces off.

Additional Materials

Some additional materials that you may find yourself wanting is a utility knife to cut any materials with quick access. Also, a rubber mallet can help to get the tiles in their proper positioning. In addition, a large sponge helps in the process of grouting to make it more simple and efficient.

A level can come in handy if you are concerned about having the tile level, but the spacers should for the most part help with this. You might also want a tile scraper if you are needing to take off the old tile before replacing it with the new tile.

Tile Support

Now that we have the materials, we need to work on how exactly to tile around an outlet and the best ways to do that. There are many steps to this process but the main one to remember is the support of tile.

For one, you need to work from the bottom up, laying the entire row of tile before working upward. It can be very easy to get ahead of yourself and find that you don’t have the support against gravity that you need. So remember to work from the ground up.

The next thing to remember is to apply the thin-set mortar evenly and equally across the entire area intended for the tiles. You need to do this in sections to keep the mortar from solidifying before placing the tile on it. Make sure to have the tile well mortared before placing the next tile above it.

This is why working in a long line works well. By tiling the first row and then going back, it allows the first tiles to be properly set so they won’t move.

Spacing The Tile

Remember to be placing your spacers between each tile. They can be placed in a way that you can take them out later when you grout, or you can just keep them in there for extra support.

As long as they are deep enough the grout will have no problem with covering them up. Grout is thick and will not allow for spacers to interrupt what they do.

Cutting The Tile

At some point, while tiling up the wall you will run into an outlet and this is the reason we are here. How do we effectively tile around it?

To properly place a tile around an outlet, you will most likely need to cut it. This can be a daunting task but just follow these steps and there shouldn’t be a problem.

Step 1: Measure

You need to know exactly how much of the tile you need to cut off. So you need to measure where to cut the tile. Assuming you have taken the outlet cover off and unscrewed the outlets to create room for the tile to fit underneath you can start to mark off where to cut.

To measure, place the tile with a spacer against the tile immediately to the side that you have been working from. If you have been working left to right then place it against the left tile.

Don’t worry about the tile underneath right now. Simply overlap them so the top of the tile is underneath the outlet. Then create a line where the outlet box is met with the wall. You can give this a little space because the cover will also cover the tile. Before taking the tile make sure to mark where the screw for the outlet cover will be.

Then repeat this same process but put the tile even with the tile below it and overlap over the side tile plate. Create another line that will create a nice box to take off. This process will allow you to get an even cut and know where to start.

Step 2: Cutting

Once the tile has been measured to know where it needs to be cut, you can begin to cut the tile. It will be easy from here on out. Simply use the wet tile saw with proper safety protection to cut the lines that you have made.

Once this is done you can make sure it fits in the space before setting it in with adhesive. You can briefly put the outlet cover back on to see if it covers up the tile edges properly. If it doesn’t fit then either cut more off if it was too big or restart with a new tile, learning from your mistakes, to cut a new piece.

Screw Notch

The screw notch is something to cut while cutting the rest of the tile. You need to create a small hole just underneath the line that you cut for a nice place for the outlet cover screw to sit. It will provide a good area so that the screw can actually be placed. you don’t want to have to screw through the tile.

Also don’t cut the notch too low, it will only have about 1/4 of an inch between the screw and the edge of the cover. So keep it tight, but open enough for the screw to fit easily enough.

Outlet Spacers

Because you have just placed tile underneath your outlet, you will most likely need to bring it out a little bit extra to look good. The outlet prongs need to sit on the outside of the tile itself and may need some extra support for the screw to actually reach its ratchet point.

You can use some new screws that are longer. This will help give it a stronger grasp on the wall, but you can also purchase outlet spacers. They are an easy snap function that gives the screw some more support and won’t give the outlet the option to push back in any way.

Tile Patterns

Something to take into account when tiling around an outlet is that exotic patterns when tiling can make it more difficult to properly measure and cut the tile. A simple offset pattern is easy enough, but the more complex you make it will become more difficult.

Ricky Kesler

With all of the projects I've done over the years, you'd think that I work on my house full-time. But I actually enjoy other things like spending time outdoors and time with my family.

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