How to Cut Electrical Box Openings in Wallboard How to Cut Electrical Box Openings in Wallboard

What You'll Need
Stud finder
Carpenter's level
Measuring tape
Electrical wall box
Drywall saw (or router)

Adding an electrical receptacle or a switch to a wall that is covered by wallboard, will require you to first install an electrical box. Although the actual installation of these boxes is relatively simple, without knowing how to cut the opening for the box you may find this project more challenging than you might have anticipated. To make matters more challenging you will need to know other things such as what you'll be using the box for, how big you'll want your box, and where to mount it. Here's how you can cut your box opening:

Step 1 – Determine Your Box Usage

Before you even think of cutting a hole in your wall board, you'll need to know what you'll be using the box for. Will you use it as a pull box, one that will be used for you to pull cable from a previous cable location? Will you use it as a junction box, in which you'll be splicing wires from a cable? Or will you use it to install an electrical switch or receptacle. You'll need to know this information in order to choose the size box you'll need, and consequently, the size of hole you'll cut.

Step 2 – Positioning Your Box Opening

Using your measuring tape, make a mark on your wallboard where you'll be cutting your hole and mounting your box, 16 inches up from the floor for a receptacle or 42 inches for a switch. This mark will represent the top edge of the hole you'll cut. Use your stud finder to locate a wall stud that is nearest the mark you've made on your wall. If the stud you locate is directly behind your pencil mark, move the mark to the right side of the wall stud. If you plan to attach the box to a wall stud, you'll need to cut your hole close enough to the stud that you can nail the box to the stud. Otherwise, move the mark far enough away from the stud that you can insert brackets into the hole you cut, without interference from the stud.

Step 3 – Cutting a Hole in an Attached Wallboard

Hold the appropriate box against the wallboard at the spot where you'll want your hole cut. With your level resting on the side or top of your box in a level position, trace around the edge of the box, making a square or rectangle on the wall that is the same size as the box you'll be using. With your drywall saw or router, cut out this rectangle or square, leaving a hole that the box will fit snugly into.

Step 4 - Cutting a Hole In an Unattached Wallboard

Where you are attaching a wallboard to a wall where an electrical box is already attached, measure the distance from the floor to the bottom edge of the mounted box. From the center of the stud the box is attached to, measure the distance from there to the inside edge of the mounted box. Use these measurements to draw your box on the wallboard you'll be attaching, then cut out the box shape from your wallboard.

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