How to Install a Floor Outlet

Updated: May 17, 2024

Install a floor outlet and say goodbye to hazardous extension cords.

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A full day




$50 – $150


Sometimes electricity is just not where you need it, especially in big rooms and older houses. Floor outlets may be the perfect way to solve the problem.

If you want to add a floor outlet to your home, consider the structure. If you're looking at a first-floor installation with a wooden subfloor over an unfinished basement, then it's relatively straightforward. If you're looking at a second-floor installation, you'll need to consider drywall work.

There are two parts to this project. One is cutting a hole in the floor and seating the receptacle box. The second is running electrical to the box. Cutting in and mounting the steel outlet box only requires basic carpentry skills. However, the electrical work will require you to assess a circuit load, run wire, and connect the receptacle. Many DIYers aren't fully comfortable with that much electrical work. If that's you, don't hesitate to contact a licensed electrician to run power to your installed box.

It's also likely that the electrical work will require you to pull a permit. Contact your local building department to find out if this applies to you. A permit fee is a small price to pay for the assurance that the wiring is safe, and you might even get some free advice from the inspector.

I've installed floor outlets in wood, ceramic tile, and concrete. But your installation will be unique to your home. I reached out to licensed electricians and general contractors to get a variety of tips and tricks right from the pros. They helped me break down the steps of a floor outlet installation and highlight areas where you might want to call for additional help.

To keep the steps as clear as possible, this project assumes you're working on a first-floor installation over an unfinished basement. If you have a more complex structure to deal with, such as a concrete floor or finished living space beneath the outlet location, you'll need to adjust the steps accordingly.

Floor Outlet Assembly Vs. Regular Wall Outlet

Floor outlet assemblies include a metal box, gasket seal, special receptacle and strong cover plate. This protects them from damage from foot traffic and debris. Floor outlets come in various shapes and sizes, including pop-up options. Asif Bux, an engineer and contractor, points out that recessed outlets are less obtrusive and often more aesthetically pleasing.

Safety Precautions

Turn off the power to the circuit at the breaker box, and test any wires to ensure they aren't live before working on them.

When to Call a Pro

If you're uncomfortable with electricity, or if you begin work and then start having second thoughts, it's probably time to call in a pro. As Gerald Talbot, master electrician at Mister Sparky, says, electrical work is simply too dangerous to guess at.

Tools Required

  • Chisel
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bits (3/8-inch or as needed)
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Tape measure
  • Voltage tester
  • wire stripper

Materials Required

  • Electrical line (as needed)
  • Electrical tape
  • Floor outlet assembly
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Wire nuts

Project step-by-step (10)

Step 1

Where to Put a Floor Outlet

The outlet’s location will drive almost all your other decisions, so finding a location for it is the logical place to start.

All the experts I spoke with advised planning both for future use and your immediate needs. They also suggest keeping in mind the location of any power cords that will run to the outlet. You don’t want to create a trip hazard.

  • Measure from a reference point, such as a wall or drain pipe, to pinpoint the floor outlet’s location. Then, measure in the basement below to find where it will fall.
  • Adjust the location as needed so that it will fall between the floor joists.
  • Ensure you’re clear of any plumbing lines, vent ducts, or other obstructions.
  • Examine the electrical lines in the basement.
    • If possible, adjust the floor outlet’s location to make the most of nearby junction boxes and existing wire runs.

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Step 2

Prep and Plan

Most of the planning will revolve around checking the electrical issues.

  • If you are tapping into an existing circuit, check the amperage rating on the breaker.
  • Test the circuit, count the number of existing outlets, and calculate their load.
    • As a rule of thumb, you can have 8 outlets on a 15 amp breaker and 10 outlets on a 20 amp breaker. However, the exact limit will depend on the usage and whether any fixtures are also on the circuit.
  • Ensure the circuit you’re considering tapping into isn’t a dedicated line for an appliance, such as a refrigerator.
  • Purchase any electrical line based on the length needed and amperage of the breaker. (14 gauge for 15 amp breakers, 12 gauge for 20 amp breakers.)

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Step 3

Cut the Floor Outlet Hole

  • Apply masking tape to protect the floor finish. (Optional)
  • Using a pencil, outline the outlet box on the floor.
  • Drill four 3/8-in. holes just inside the corners of the outline.
  • Use a jigsaw with a wood-cutting blade to cut from hole to hole.
    • It’s much better to cut the hole too tight and then nibble away at the edges than to cut a hole that’s too large.
    • Pro Tip: Joel Worthington of Mr. Electric suggests saving the cut-out material in case it’s needed to fill in gaps.

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Step 4

Mount the Floor Outlet Box

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and mount the box securely to the floor.

  • Chisel shallow notches as needed to set the box flush.
  • Place the box in the hole and drill pilot holes as needed for any mounting screws.
  • Determine where the wire will enter the box and remove the appropriate round metal knockout plug.

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Step 5

Run the Cable

Be sure you’ve done the planning to know that you have the proper gauge wire and that you’re working with a circuit that can accommodate a new outlet.

  • Run plastic-sheathed cable between the floor outlet and the power source.
    • Pro Tip: For a neater, easier job, unroll the cable and remove the twists before installing it.
  • If you have to drill through a joist, drill a minimum of 2 inches from the top and bottom edge of the joist.
  • Staple the cable with 1/2-in. cable staples every 4-1/2 feet where it runs along the joist.
    • Don’t staple either end of the cable yet; leave at least 1 foot of extra cable on each end.
  • Remember, if you get into this step and aren’t comfortable with the work, don’t hesitate to bring in a licensed electrician.

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Step 6

Wire the Receptacle

  • Switch off the circuit breaker to disconnect the power to the wires you’re connecting to.
    • Double-check that the power is off with a voltage tester.

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  • Attach the cable to the new box first.
    • Remove enough outer sheathing to expose about 12 inches of the wires.
    • Push the wires into the box until about 1/4 inch of sheathing is inside the box.
    • Snap the cable clamp into the knockout hole.
      • Secure the wiring to a joist within 12 inches of the metal box with a cable staple.
    • Trim the wires so they protrude from the top of the metal box at least 3 inches.
    • Strip 5/8 inch of insulation from the black and white wires with a wire stripper.
    • Connect the bare ground wire to the green grounding screw.
    • Connect the wiring to the receptacle.
    • Fold the wires neatly and push the outlet into the box.
    • Mount the receptacle to the floor outlet box.

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  • Attach the cable to the circuit you’re attaching to.
    • Push the wires into the box until 1/4 inch of the sheathing is visible inside of the junction box, then clamp them in place.
      • Secure the wiring to a joist within 12 inches of the metal box with a cable staple.
    • Connect the bare ground wire to the ground wires, the neutral white wire to the neutral white wires, and the black wire to the red or black hot wire or wires.
      • Secure them with a wire nut.

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Step 7

Install the Cover

  • Install the cover (per the manufacturer’s instructions) to protect the outlet from dirt and moisture when it’s not in use.
  • Pro Tip: If your outlet has removable brass plug covers, keep a record of the manufacturer’s name in case you lose the cover and have to order a new one.

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Step 8

Final Test

  • Plug in the receptacle tester to confirm everything is wired correctly.
  • If the tester lights up correctly, you can start using your outlet!

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Step 9


Do floor outlets need covers?

Yes. Covers protect the outlet from damage and dirt build-up. The NEC specifies that physical protection of floor receptacles allows floor-cleaning to be performed without damage to the receptacle.

Are floor outlets legal?

Yes. When properly installed and up to code, floor outlets are legal.

Is it safe to put a rug over a floor outlet?

As long as the outlet is not in use, covering it with a rug is fine. Carpeting over a floor outlet is not approved. The outlet must be easily accessible, and moving a rug is similar to moving aside a curtain in front of a wall outlet. Rugs should not cover a floor outlet when in use.

Do floor outlets need to be GFCI?

It depends. Floor outlets are treated like any other outlet when it comes to GFCI; if a wall outlet in a given location would need GFCI protection, then a floor outlet would, as well. That said, the areas that require GFCI (bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors) are typically not places where you’d install a floor outlet.

Step 10

About the Experts

Asif Bux is an engineer and the Owner/Service Manager at Comfort Union providing electrical services along with plumbing and HVAC.

Gerald Talbot, a licensed electrician and owner of a Mister Sparky franchise location, specializes in providing dependable electrical services for homes and businesses, prioritizing precision and safety in every project.

Joel Worthington is the President of Mr. Electric, a Neighborly Company.


2023 National Electrical Code (NEC)