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How to Successfully Move Electrical Boxes

Electrical boxes must be flush with the wall surface, which can present problems when you add wainscoting or paneling. The easiest fix is usually a metal or plastic extension ring.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Bring the outlet flush with the wall

Adding wood wainscoting or paneling? Remember that electrical boxes need to be flush with the wall. You can move the boxes out, but you'd have to cut the wall open. It's easier to use a plastic or steel extension ring. They're available up to 1-1/4 in. deep.

To install an extension ring, first turn off the power to the receptacle at the main panel, then remove the cover plate and unscrew the receptacle from the box. Pull the receptacle away from the box (don't disconnect the wires). If you're using a steel ring, press a grounding clip onto it and connect a 6-in. grounding wire. Connect the other end to the ground pigtail. Fasten the receptacle back to the box using the longer screws that come with the extension ring.


Turn off power to the outlet at the breaker box before opening the outlet, then test the wires with a voltage tester.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Needle-nose pliers
    • Electrical tape
    • Non-contact voltage tester

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Extension ring

Comments from DIY Community Members

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October 01, 9:24 AM [GMT -5]

how do i fish an existing wire pass the stud to a new electrical box?

April 20, 10:07 AM [GMT -5]

It is really an awkward assignment with the outlet on the edge of the Wainscoting like that. I HAVE had this situation occur, with the step down, and mismatch especially in the older homes that have additions that no inspector has ever laid eyes on. It calls for artistic license when trimming it out, and hopefully you can park a bookcase in front of it. (I DO Realize that this particular case is in the middle of the wall with the next panel to go up to it.)
One caution, However along with the Power warning. Ensure that you haven't scuffed a black wire when handling with pliers and cause an open contact to that new metal extension ring. The Bare ground wire is O.K. if the Hot is well insulated. Fire Hazard. Hopefully your circuit breaker will cover you, but best to be neat and careful.
Good quick, clear, concise article with good project Illustration.
Thank You.

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How to Successfully Move Electrical Boxes

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