How to Install Wall Paneling around Outlets or Switches

A paneled wall.
  • 5-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500-700
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Marker, pencil
Jigsaw or utility knife
Chalk or paint
Dust mask, safety goggles and gloves

When doing wall paneling, the trickiest part is getting the right fit around outlets and switches. Wall panels are available in varying sizes and thickness; so make sure you purchase the right panels before you begin drywalling. You will also need to remove all staples, nails, tacks, switches, and outlet covers before you actually start paneling your wall. Drywalling is a relatively easy DIY project; however, it cannot be done alone. Make sure to ask a friend or family member for help when paneling your wall.

Step 1 - Take Measurements

Method One: In order to cut the panel correctly, you first need to make the right measurements. Start by measuring the distance between the top edge of the outlet and the edge of the last panel above the outlet. Mark this distance on the panel you will be using. Make sure to mark this from the top of the panel and on the back face.

Do the same for the left side of the outlet. Measure the distance from the last panel used to the left edge of the outlet, and mark this distance accordingly on your current panel. You will also need to measure the distance from the floor to the bottom edge of the outlet. Mark this on the panel that you will be using. Measure the outlet, and by using the already marked distances, draw a square/rectangle on your current panel.

Method Two: There is another method to draw the square/rectangle on the panel that you will be using. For this, simply outline the perimeter of the outlet with chalk or paint. Then, place the panel flat against the outlet and press down so that the chalk or paint forms an imprint on the back of the panel. Make sure you place the panel exactly in the same manner as you would when finally installing the panel. Once you have the imprint, you’ll know exactly where to cut. While this is a more convenient method, it is often not as accurate as the first one because even a slight shift can result in an incorrect imprint.

Step 2 - Make the Cut

Once you have your square/rectangle marked out, use a jigsaw to cut out the panel. You can also use a utility knife for this purpose. If you are using a thin panel, you will be able to cut right through it. For thicker panels, first cut lightly to form a sort of guide line. Then, make a deeper cut along the guide line.

Use your hands to bend the cut out area back and forth till it snaps. After cutting out the hole, place the panel on the wall, to check if the fit is right. If you followed the instructions to the tee, you should have a perfect fit.