How to Mount a Surface Mount Electrical Box


Surface mount electrical boxes, whether for switches or outlets, are installed in areas where drywall has already been hung. Made of metal or plastic, the boxes come in various sizes, for one or two switches/outlets, or one of each. Though it is best to attach the box to a wall stud, wall plugs can also be used if the box needs to be installed between studs. The route of the electrical cable running to the box must also be taken into account when deciding its location.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Small Philips-head screwdriver
  • 2 wall anchors
  • 4 round-head 1-5/8-inch steel screws
  • Screw gun
  • Eraser
  • Run a stud finder against the wall in the location where the surface mount box will be installed, marking the stud center with a sharpened carpenter's pencil. Run a vertical pencil line through the mark on the drywall surface at the height where the box will be installed, using a straight edge. Check with the local city building department for the required height of the outlet/switch box in your area.

  • Position the box against the wall so that two of the four box's screw holes rest on the marked line. Place the tip of the carpenter's pencil through the box's other two holes, making pencil marks against the wall surface. Remove the box from the wall. Place the tip of a small Philips-head screwdriver against each mark that is not on the pencil line, and push the tip of the screwdriver fully through the drywall by hand. Push a wall anchor into each hole so that each is flush with the wall surface.

  • Position the surface mount box against the wall so that its screw holes line up with the vertical line and two installed wall anchors. Screw the tip of one round-head 1-5/8-inch steel screw into each wall plug by hand. Use a screw gun to tighten each screw into place. Install a round-head 1-5/8-inch steel screw into each of the box's two screw holes on the vertical line using the screw gun. Rub off all signs of the vertical pencil stud line using an eraser.

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  • "Creative Homeowner Ultimate Guide To Wiring"; Fran J. Donegan; 2004
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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