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#49097 - 02/26/05 02:38 PM old work - ceramic tile
donles Offline

Registered: 04/28/01
Posts: 82
Loc: Bridgeville, PA USA
I'm adding receptacle circuits to an older kitchen with ceramic tile on the walls above the countertop. The tiles measure 2"x5/8" and the grout is very thin, 1/16" or so.

I don't imagine that cutting an outline of a Carlon old work box with the tiles in place will be too successful. I'm thinking that what I will do is:
Mark an outline of a 1 gang owb on the wall.
Figure on removing all tiles that reside inside the outline. Even if a small portion of a tile is within the outline, the tile will come out. (So, even before the hole is cut in the plaster beneath the tile, a much larger "hole" is made in the tile pattern.)
Scratch out the grout between affected tiles with a broken hacksaw blade.
Work the tiles out.
Cut hole for owb, insert cable(s), set owb in wall, flush with tile.
Reassemble and set tiles, cutting as needed and grout.
Anchor and wire box.
Labor intensive but I think in the end the product will look good.
Whad'ya think?

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#49098 - 02/26/05 03:42 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
Electricmanscott Offline

Registered: 01/12/02
Posts: 1478
Loc: Holden, MA USA
Whoa there cowboy. You'll never get the tiles out without damaging at least some of them and the new grout will not match either.
Here is another way. Lay out your box locations. Look to avoid wall studs by checking for screw locations in the cabinets. If you are worried about other obstructions such as pipes or ductwork, poke a hole in the cabinet and feel around with a peice of fish tape. To cut the hole in the tile use a roto zip with a tile cut blade. This makes a nice neat hole and will not damage the tile.

#49099 - 02/26/05 03:44 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
earlydean Offline

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 749
Loc: Griswold, CT, USA
Buy a Dremel tool with a ceramic blade, grind your hole like a dentist on your tooth. Ouch.

#49100 - 02/26/05 04:01 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
NJ Wireman Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 179
Loc: New Jersey (South Jersey)
cut the tile with a roto zip, everyone is right unless you plan on re grouting the whole kitchen it will never match and you will either break a tile trying to get it off or tear up the backer boards. roto zip is cheap at the orange roof. well worth it

#49101 - 02/26/05 04:45 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
LK Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1721
Loc: New Jersey
"Whoa there cowboy. You'll never get the tiles out without damaging at least some of them and the new grout will not match either."
We just settled with payment for kitchen re-tile $1,100, we installed one outlet, and there was one little hair line crack, they thanked us for doing such a nice job, paid on time, and we forgot about it, then we received a letter from their attorney, we destroyed their kitchen, so our attorney said it would be best to agree on making a settled payment, what we learned is don't put openings in tile.

#49102 - 02/26/05 06:25 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
BigB Offline

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 725
Loc: Tucson, AZ USA
A 4" grinder fitted with a diamond blade works wonders in tile.

#49103 - 02/26/05 07:14 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
electure Offline


Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4226
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
Trying to pull the tiles out is a sure way to break them.

I think LK is trying to tell you something. If it were me, I'd listen

#49104 - 02/26/05 09:07 PM Re: old work - ceramic tile
Celtic Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 367
Loc: NJ
I think the customer will not pay $300 for 1 outlet.
I think you'l be out of business -=fast being penny-wise and dollar foolish.

Spend the $80 on the RotoZip and use the carbide blade and be done in 30 seconds.
~~ CELTIC ~~
...-= NJ =-...

#49105 - 02/27/05 04:35 AM Re: old work - ceramic tile
Joey D Offline

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Arlington MA U.S.
I recomend the Roto Zip as well. I have cut plenty of old works in tile in baths and kitchens. It's very easy, just keep the vac running as it throws off some dust.
Make a note on your contract with the customer about possible cracks in the tile. Most will understand that cutting into an old wall anything is possible.

#49106 - 02/27/05 08:28 AM Re: old work - ceramic tile
e57 Offline

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
I wish they made a diamond bit for the roto-zip. Thier bits for tile burn real quick on certain types of tile, and are useless on stone. (Turns red, and its toast) Grinder works on all, and Roto-zip realized this and made convertable models Grinder/router. They make a smaller 3"? diamond grinder wheel special for it, but its really hard to find.

Back before the roto-zip, I would lay out an outline of the box. And use a 1/8 masonary bit, drill holes real close together, pray, and crack what was left between the holes.

And heres some personal experiance advise.... If at all possible, physically or visually check that there are no obstructions in the wall. Back when I did alot of this, I would refuse to do it (Cut tile or stone) unless I could cut a hole for a dental mirror above it, or the other side of the wall. That hole is an easy patch, compared to finding that there is a stud, backer, drain/vent. I think that "Stud-finders" in situations like this are un-reliable through metal or wood lathe, or tiles. Theres nothing like cutting the perfect hole for your box, then finding that the counter and splash were backed by a 2X that you now need to chisle out, that a stud sensor didn't see. (I treat base boards the same way)
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

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