Cutting Outlet Holes in Drywall to Install an Electrical Box

  • 01 of 08


    Installing Cooker Socket
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    Additional switches and outlets are needed in a home from time to time. Knowing how to cut in an electrical box will come in handy if you want to complete this project.

    Difficulty Level:

    • Easy

    Time Required:

    • 10 Minutes or Less

    Tools and Materials Needed:

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  • 02 of 08

    Mark the Hole to be Cut

    • Measure up the wall that you want to install the box.
    • Place a small line, using a pencil, to mark where the top of the box will be.
    • Using the electrical box that you are going to install, hold it up to the wall.
    • Put the level on the side of the box to level it.
    • Using the pencil, mark the outside of the box on the wall.
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  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Hole

    cutting drywall
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    • Before cutting the hole, place a box or newspaper below the hole to be cut. This will catch all of the drywall dust.
    • Using a drywall saw, cut the drywall by following the pencil lines that you've just drawn.
    • To start the hole, tap the base of the drywall saw until it goes through the drywall.
    • Continue cutting until the hole is completely cut out.
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  • 04 of 08

    Install an Electrical Box

    • After cutting the hole in the drywall, insert an electrical box in the hole. If the hole is too tight, you may have to trim it a little.
    • Push the box into the hole until the brackets are against the drywall face.
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  • 05 of 08

    Install Madison Straps

    Install Madison Straps
    Install Madison Straps. Timothy Thiele
    • Insert the Madison straps, one on each side of the box, with the longer part up.
    • Slide the strap in past the back of the drywall.
    • Slide the strap down until it is centered in the hole.
    • Pull it towards you until it is tight against the back of the drywall.
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  • 06 of 08

    Bend Madison Straps Into Place

    Bend Madison Straps into Place
    Bend Madison Straps into Place. Timothy Thiele
    • Take the Madison straps and bend the tabs inward into the box.
    • Be sure to pull them tight and complete the bend using a pair of linesman pliers.
    • Bend all four tabs to complete the installation.
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  • 07 of 08

    Completed Cut-in Box Installation

    The completed installation of the electrical box should fit securely and the straps should be tightly connected.

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  • 08 of 08

    Installation Tips

    Hands of electrician installing electrical outlet
    Laara Cerman/Leigh Righton / Getty Images

    When installing an electrical box in a wall cavity there are some new tools that make cutting the wall materials very simple and cause much less damage to the area around the hole that you are about to cut.

    Unlike using a reciprocating saw, that shakes the wall materials, especially if you have plaster walls with wood lathes behind them. Using a vibrating cutoff tool is much nicer for the job and creates a cleaner, perfect sized hole for installing the electrical box.

    Now as far as the box itself, newly designed electrical boxes may be made of metal or plastic, but they have wings that either flip out or expand as the screws are tightened to secure them to the back of the wall that you are installing the box in. This is easily tightened with a Phillips screwdriver and makes a secure electrical box for whatever the installation.

    As a matter of fact, there is a tool that cuts drywall like using scissors. The tool is similar to metal snips that are used to cut metal like ductwork. Not only do carpenters cut drywall with this tool, it also cut tough board like cement board with ease. 

    Always plan the project in advance before cutting the hole. You need to do some planning, research, and physically examine the area to be used to install the box before starting the project. Things you should be looking for are ductwork, cables, other electrical wires, water lines, drain lines, gas lines, etc. You may be able to get an idea of what may be behind the wall by looking in the basement under the wall where you intend to add the box.

    As for the box installation itself, be sure to draw straight lines to ensure a perfectly cut hole and a plumb installation of the box. there's nothing worse than a crooked electrical box to make the installation look a mess. By using a level to mark out the opening first, you should have no trouble installing an electrical box with ease.