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The right way to coverup an old switch box in drywall??


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03-27-08, 01:43 PM   #1  
The right way to coverup an old switch box in drywall??

During a kitchen reno, rather then breaking out a box to install a double box, I decided to move it all together and make it a double. I will be abandoning an old hole in a smooth finished hard coat wall. I'm sure that I can fill it in and smooth it out, but I did this in the bathroom in the past with old cup holders and I eventually got a square looking hairline crack. What is the proper way to fill in a hole in the middle of the wall and what material should I use? I know to remove the old box and put a piece of wood behind the drwyall and screw to each side then fill in with a piece of board, my question is mainly how to transition and make it last, obviously I can't use tape or fiberglass because it would show a lump.

 
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03-27-08, 03:07 PM   #2  
If you really want to be guaranteed you won't even get the tiniest hairline crack there, you do have to tape it. No way around that. Then it's just a matter of making sure the tape is as close to the wall as possible. And that would be probably with a tape that sticks on. It looks like paper tape with holes in it. I have not used it yet, but saw it at the BigBox store. It is best to use hard-setting mud like a Durobond with this. You CAN conventional paper tape, but you have to do the mud beneath it first so you have just enough mud so it sticks, but not so much to have additional mud under the tape. Then, with either of these methods, you have to fan the mud top coats way out to not notice the lump.

I have already made repairs just like you have spoken of and have just gone tapeless with Durobond. If I decide to do that, I cut the filler piece of sheetrock under size by maybe 1/8-3/16 so that when I Durobond, it can lock in between the filler piece and wall. In the future though you MAY get a microscopic hairline crack, due likely to expansion or shrinkage of the backerboard used. Depending on the wall and texture, if that ever did happen you could rub some spackle in with your finger retouch up paint. It's up to you, which route you want to go.

 
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03-27-08, 03:46 PM   #3  
If you use joint compound without tape, it will crack! Use of a setting compound [like durabond] may or may not crack. While the 'sticky' tape does have a bad track record, it does better when used with a setting compound.


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03-27-08, 07:50 PM   #4  
Just a question or 2 about the 'old' box. What have you done with the electical in that 'old box'? .. and how did you "move it and make it a double" , where you want the new double?
Is the 'old' box a junction for your new double?
If so, it is my understanding that one cannot bury/hide a junction box...legally, that is.
Not saying it isnt done...just asking...!

 
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03-27-08, 08:16 PM   #5  
You need to tape this repair. I would use paper tape and durabond. But some type of tape should be used. Embed is a key. Sanding down this repair before any tape or mud is also a good idea to keep this "hump" down.

 
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03-28-08, 01:48 PM   #6  
Jatco, I have not done the swap yet but I plan to pull the wiring back up into the attic and reroute it to the other side of the opening. If necessary, I'll install a junction box to extend the wires. If you picture an opening that has a wall to the left kind of like this L__ . the L being the side wall to the left, the flat line being the opening, the . being the current switch location, you enter from the bottom in (sorry for the crude graphic). It actually makes more sense to walk into the space with the switches in your view instead of walking in and reaching back to where it is now, the new switch located in the middle of the L.

Moving the switch keeps me from hacking up the wall but that's not the real problem, just after the switch is a 2" round hole where the phone lines come thru, that doesn't give me enough room to widen the switchbox without hitting the phone or the hole behind it. I have a pre-wired home which means that I have about (20) #22 solid wires running in all rooms for phones, intercoms, ect.

 
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03-28-08, 02:00 PM   #7  
I don't tape such repairs, but I leave a gap like ecman51, and I bevel all edges. I believe the bevel helps in several ways.

 
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03-28-08, 03:39 PM   #8  
You can do a hole this small with a butterfly. Cut a piece of new rock about 2" larger in both dimensions than the hole then cut through the paper on the back side of the new piece about an inch from all the edges. What you want is a core the size of the hole with a flange of paper left around it. Then fill the edges of the hole with setting joint compound and put some on the face around the hole then place the patch in and stick the paper flanges to the face of the existing rock and smooth it out. It will probably take an additional coat then texture if any to match sand prime and paint. Now if you want a really flat patch take the time to cut through the face paper around your hole about the same width of the flange on the patch then spread on your goop and smooth it down. It should end up so close to flush as to nearly disappear.

It takes less time to do this than it did to type it.

 
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03-28-08, 08:31 PM   #9  
Ok... the cosmetics are 1 thing.. but as far as your wiring goes.. Are you planning on pulling the old line out of its original box and out thru the studs, then running that line, up into the attic(with a J-box) to re-route it passed another stud or whatever, down to where you want it, then, killing the old box entirely?? - with a new junction box/line in the attic...(I presume).?
If so, then that sounds 'legit'... So long as there is access to that 'new' line/junction box (in the attic). Then all you have is an old hole/box that you need to cover....
Then you can try and remove the old box (possibly)..and block the old hole from behind and install some drywall, - tape, mud and finesse (!!) the area to suitable match to the original wall finish. Then prime, paint etc...!!

 
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03-29-08, 10:32 AM   #10  
You got it Jatco.... and yes finesse is probably the correct word. Because of where this is it has to be perfect, that plus my anal tendancies.... My wife is always telling me that "no one will notice but you", that is sometimes true yet I'm the one who has to live with it so it has to be right. This abandoned box is in plain view with semi gloss paint, it isn't perfect it will stick out like a sore thumb.

 
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03-29-08, 01:18 PM   #11  
Here is how the pervect patch is done, just filled in 6 old ceiling recessed light holes after moving.

Here is wat I did. Installed two pieces of wood behind the drywall so I could attach with screws all the way around. Installed a filler piece of 3/8 drywall (ceiling is 1/2"). Note, all wood and patches are glude and screwed. Using a sharp box knife I scored the drywall about an inch larger than the hole and peeled the paper off.

I then installed fiberglass tape across the patch and trimmed inside the scored edge. Now the paper and fiberglass tape are at the same level and with a few coats of compound feathered out you cant see the hole and the cracks should stay away.

 
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03-29-08, 02:12 PM   #12  
This may be unconventional, but what if I gouged or stepped out the existing hard coat with a dremel about 3/4" around the hole and did the same with the outside edges of the patch? I then could use fiberglass tape that would be embedded below the surface then skim coat and feather? If the thickness of the drywall patch was thinner than the existing surface the tape would be sub surface. I really think that any lump will show because of the surface.

 
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03-29-08, 03:13 PM   #13  
Or simply use 3/8th's patch and Durobond over it. I like to prime-paint any chaulk wall surface first, as I believe the paint soaks in better than the mud. Just my preference.

 
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03-29-08, 07:25 PM   #14  
How 'old' is the original wall???
It may be pretty tricky to get a new 'patch' to match an old wall/texture..etal. And when all else is done, you'll probably have to paint the whole wall anyway to get everything to blend together. Thats the usual route anyway.
If you can get the old box out..Great..and perhaps good luck, depending on how its mounted. My guess is, its screwed to a stud. If so, and you can get it out, (great), then do along the line as Marq101 suggested. You do have to 'block' behind the hole to accept your patch, either 3/8" or 1/2" drywall.. whatever mates with the orig wall.
That old hole (2.5" x4" from the old box cut-out)...will and probably should be about a 5x8" patch...(+/-) when finished with your mudding, sanding, feathering out ...etc. Dont anticipate a patch the size of the old opening. It wont happen.
Once you do get the patch pretty nice and neat... (feel the finish sanding with your hand..softly along the perimeter and body of the patch for any hi-spots, dips etc.. ) and once your happy with the 'feel' of it being smooth... do a prime coat over the patch area and slightly beyond. Then when dry, look closely from different angles for any variences in finish. Lighting and feel has a lot to do with a smooth mating...
Once satiified, prime the whole wall and see how the patch fits it.
If it looks good to you...then paint the whole wall with a fresh finish coat.
Voila.. a masterpiece.
Now you'll have to paint the other walls to match.....

 
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03-30-08, 08:46 AM   #15  
The original surface is 35 years old yet the paint is 6 months old. I plan to paint the whole wall anyway so that's not an issue. The old box is one of those with 2 nails into the studs and the material is that black plastic stuff. If I can't patch with the box in there, I'll break it out. The texture is smooth so a good patch and a little orange peel from a new paint job will do the trick I think.

 
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03-30-08, 10:06 AM   #16  
Sounds like you've got a handle on it..
Good luck..and let us know how you made out.

 
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03-30-08, 10:15 AM   #17  
It looks like my first assumption was incorrect.... it's a metal stud mounted box, not plastic. I have found this kind of thing thruout the house some boxes are metal, most are plastic, some wiring is aluminim (yuck), some is copper. I think that it will be a little more difficult to yank out this box yet it is just 1/4" under the surface, I'm not sure at this point if I should remove it or use that as a backer for my drywall patch? My preference would be to get it out, I'm just not sure how to do that without making even more of a mess.

 
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03-30-08, 01:24 PM   #18  
patching electric box removal hole.

If my problem I would remove electric box somehow then mud {drywall compound} a piece of drywall a little larger than opening and put through at an angle a pull up against back of opening and let dry. Mud will hold it in place until dry.Then with a 6" putty knife apply durabond 30 {minutes drying time} over opening followed with same procedure with all purpose mud.Let dry sand lightly and another coat and sand.{If needed}. Do not over sand and end up with scratchng drywall area.
Using tape at cut areas leaves a small rise account of thickness of tape.Reason for the above method.
I have done small patching with cutting the hole at an angle, {like doing a pumpkin cut out at holloween}, mudding up the sides of patch {patch at angle to match}, let dry, and follow with the 6" putty knife, as above.

 
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03-30-08, 01:50 PM   #19  
Posted By: HotRod53F100 During a kitchen reno, rather then breaking out a box to install a double box, I decided to move it all together and make it a double. I will be abandoning an old hole in a smooth finished hard coat wall. I'm sure that I can fill it in and smooth it out, but I did this in the bathroom in the past with old cup holders and I eventually got a square looking hairline crack. What is the proper way to fill in a hole in the middle of the wall and what material should I use? I know to remove the old box and put a piece of wood behind the drwyall and screw to each side then fill in with a piece of board, my question is mainly how to transition and make it last, obviously I can't use tape or fiberglass because it would show a lump.
i always use the semi-sticky cheeze cloth type drywall tape as it works for me and doesn't require a base of mud. i do, however, sand/or otherwise relieve the surrounding surface to accomodate the thickness of the tape so as not to have a hump.
this may not fly with others, but something i have used in a small situation for filling, and it hasn't cracked yet, is BONDO! yes car plastic filler. easy to work, hard, easy to paint and sand. like i saik, SMALL areas.!

 
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03-30-08, 06:52 PM   #20  
Posted By: HotRod53F100 It looks like my first assumption was incorrect.... it's a metal stud mounted box, not plastic. I have found this kind of thing thruout the house some boxes are metal, most are plastic, some wiring is aluminim (yuck), some is copper. I think that it will be a little more difficult to yank out this box yet it is just 1/4" under the surface, I'm not sure at this point if I should remove it or use that as a backer for my drywall patch? My preference would be to get it out, I'm just not sure how to do that without making even more of a mess.
.
IMO, dont try to yank it Out.. Just try to yank it off the stud..and if so, let it drop into the cavity..and write it off. Who cares if its in there, then you'll have a relatively 'clean' hole for backing and install your drywall patch. To try and use the box as part of your backing could be a challenge...to try and fill that void ...!! Poo!
Your patch is going to be larger than the original box/hole anyway..so if you have to 'damage' some the perimeter around the 'old'..so what. Once you have a clean opening to back and patch..you'll have to feather it out anyway..so if you have to go another 2" or so, so what.... then your feathering will taper out smoother..to blend into the existing wall.. Nes pas!!
I can appreciate you wanting to keep the damage to a minimum..... but sometimes its better to rip out More..to accomplish a better 'patch' than to try and patch a small area... (Ran into that a few times...!!)

 
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03-31-08, 06:02 AM   #21  
Project update: I removed the box, it was just too close to the surface to cover. Of course that made a 2x4 hole 5x6 by the time that I was done. Being close to a corner also threw in the metal screen for the corner mold to add an extra twist. I was able to recess the patch but I didn't start any finishing yet. The new box is relocated and wired, that all went well except for the fact that I bought almond instead of ivory dimmers and the coverplate bag had a little rip, didn't notice that someone had stoled the color coated screws...back to the big box store again today!

 
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03-31-08, 09:22 AM   #22  
Whoa,
I went back and read the original post. Is this a plaster wall? I missed that part

If so you could have done it a whole lot differently but I don't think you need to undo what you have already done. Let us know how the rest of it goes.

 
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03-31-08, 01:38 PM   #23  
The wall is drywall with a layer of 1/4" smooth hardcoat. Today I stepped the hardcoat with an old wood chisel and used fiberglass tape to transition the drywall patch into the existing. I used some MH brand redi-patch to "glue" the new to the old and fill in the gaps, that stuff sets like concrete and is very hard to sand. All of the redi-patch will be sub-surface so I embeded the fiberglass tape with redi-patch too, as soon as it hardens I wil begin thin skim coats of dura-bond.

 
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03-31-08, 01:57 PM   #24  
DoraBond is also very hard to sand so don't build it up too much. It's a lot easier to be shy and have to add a coat than to be proud and have to try to sand it.

 
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