A raceway system typically begins at an existing outlet. From there, it can run anywhere: up, down, around corners or in multiple directions at once. The raceway system shown cost about $60. Raceway itself (sold in 5- and 10-ft. lengths) costs about $1 per foot. The surface-mounted junction boxes cost $5 to $10; the elbows and tees about $5 each. You’ll also need mounting clips and other accessories. Home centers carry a variety of parts, and you’ll find even more online. The cost of wire, switches and outlets will add at least $50 to the total. Raceway is often called “Wiremold,” the name of a common brand.
- Building a raceway system is kind of like plumbing; it requires the right parts and fittings, which can mean repeated trips to the store. To avoid that, sketch out a plan and make a list of the items you’ll need. When in doubt, buy extra parts and return the leftovers.
- When possible, locate the new boxes directly above, below or level with the original box to minimize ells and bends. It’s less work for you and makes for a neater installation.
- Try to locate the new boxes at studs so you can screw directly into wood and minimize the need for drywall anchors.
CAUTION: Turn off the power at the main panel and check with a noncontact voltage detector before you begin work.
Project step-by-step (11)
Start at an Existing Outlet
Remove the outlet from an existing junction box and screw on a baseplate. Don’t forget to add a No. 10 grounding screw to the baseplate. The entire race- way assembly must be grounded.
Mark the Path and Measure
Draw a line marking the path of the raceway to the next baseplate or fit- ting. I like to temporarily screw that box or fitting into place. You’ll have to anchor it later anyway, and having it locked in place makes measuring easier. Measure between the plate and the fitting. Add 3/8 in. for each end (3/4 in. total) to get the total length of the raceway.
Cut the Raceway
Cut the raceway track to length with the “show” side facing up. A recip- rocating saw or jigsaw will do the job, but I use a hacksaw to avoid marring the finish. Deburr the cut ends with a metal file, then insert metal bushings (provided with the accessories pack) in both ends.
Install the Clips
You have two choices for fastening the raceway: clips that go on first and snap around the raceway base, and straps that go over the raceway and attach to the wall. I use clips because they’re less visible. Either way, you need support every 32 in. For fastening clips or baseplates, I like screw-in drywall anchors rather than the anchors that come with the raceway. (E-Z Ancor is one brand.)
Connect to the Starter Box
Remove the fitting temporarily installed earlier and slip it into one end of the raceway. Slide the other end of the raceway under a tab on the baseplate. Don’t forget: Both ends of the raceway require bushings to pro- tect the wires from sharp edges.
Snap the Raceway into the Clips
Hand pressure is usually enough, but I sometimes persuade stubborn clips with a rubber mallet.
Fasten the Second Fitting
Screw the fitting or baseplate to the wall—permanently this time. Drive screws until they’re snug, but don’t overtighten them and strip out the drywall anchor.
Add and Repeat
From here on, you’ll just repeat the steps, building the raceway system one section at a time. When in doubt, add more outlets. Nobody ever complains about having too many.
Feed in the Wire
Tape the ends of the wires together and push them through the raceway. Depending on the raceway size and wire gauge, you can run 5 to 10 wires (check the instructions). Use “THHN” wire. Don’t use sheathed cable (often called “Romex”).
Install Boxes and Covers
Snap fitting covers into place. Before screwing the boxes to the baseplates, you’ll have to grab pliers and remove knockouts to create openings for the raceway. It’s easy to make mistakes here by removing the wrong knock- outs. To get it right, hold the box in place and mark the correct locations. With the raceway system complete, you’re ready to add outlets, switches and lighting.
Metal or Plastic?
Raceway comes in plastic and in metal. The stores in my area carry a better selection of metal parts, so I always go with metal, which is shown above. But plastic is a bit easier to work with and a good choice for smaller jobs. If you choose plastic, make sure it’s rated for 120-volt wiring. Some plastic is intended only for low-voltage wiring like speaker or phone cables. To see how to install plastic raceway, search for “raceway” at familyhandyman.com.
Next, read: Organize Your Garage in One Morning.