How to Install an Electrical Box in Framing

Take this important electrical step before putting up your drywall. You'll thank yourself later!

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Wiring is easier before the walls and ceilings become covered with drywall or plaster. Installing electrical boxes while studs and joists are exposed is a handy and simple solution for homeowners. 

To do this on your own, buy switch and receptacle boxes that meet local codes and are large enough for the wires they hold. It's easy to underestimate, so buy extra supplies. At the same time you install boxes, attach fans, lights, or other fixtures that need to be hardwired.

Local codes specify where cable should run and at what height to place receptacles and switch boxes. Check codes before you begin.

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What You Need

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • New-work electrical boxes
  • 1-1/4-inch wood screws (not drywall screws)

Step 1: Measure Height

Receptacle boxes typically sit 12 inches up from the floor. Measure with a tape measure or set your hammer upright on the floor and rest the box on top.

Step 2: Position Box

The front edge of the box must be flush with the finished wall surface, usually 1/2-inch-thick drywall. Some boxes have depth gauges. You can use a scrap of drywall to position the box.

Step 3: Attach to Stud or Joist

Drive the box's nails into the stud or joist. If the box attaches with a flange, drive screws or nails to anchor the box.

How to Use a Mud Ring

Adapter rings, also called mud rings, are typically 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch thick. Choose a ring that matches the thickness of the drywall or paneling you install. Attach the box flush with the front edge of the framing member, then add the ring.

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