Day #25 – the trick to perfect looking outlet holes

So we’re tearing out walls and building them back.  And resurrecting old wood slat walls. And adding wood and rope accent walls.

And all the while we running new electric and updating old electric and using old outlet holes that have previously been cut and cutting our new holes in new drywall.

Like so.

how to drywall a ceiling

This might surprise you but probably not, but there are times that our cuts aren’t exactly professional grade.

They could either be off a smidge.  Or maybe we got a little aggressive and the drywall paper ripped.  Or we added a new outlet box after the new drywall and we end up with an imperfect looking outlet and cover.

the trick to perfect looking outlet covers everytime

Womp womp.

And upon closer inspection.

the trick to perfect looking outlet covers everytime

Double womp womp.

But this little problem has one of the most simplest (I say it because I can … according to my cousin leasest is a word so we’re adding most simplest, too.) solutions ever.

the trick to perfect looking outlet covers everytime

Outlet cover plates come in different sizes!

We actually learned this a number of years back when the er of our ways was much more egregious than it is now.

But every once in a while you’ll hear one of us say “this outlet is going to need a jumbo”.

That’s code for “I messed this hole up a bit”.  :)

And then like magic, all sins are forgiven.*

*Let’s not go getting all sinful just to test the theory, k?

Here’s the same outlet with a large cover plate.

the trick to perfect looking outlet covers everytime

A much cleaner look, don’t you say?

the trick to perfect looking outlet covers

I have gone down the “just caulk that” road with this, too.  It’s an option, but is more trouble than it’s worth if you ever want to remove the cover to repaint or for any other reason.

And if you’re having trouble getting our outlet to sit flush with the plate cover, you can solve that with this easy little tip.

This is part of a 31 day series of tips, find them all here.

31 things you need to know


  1. Nancy Carr says

    I did not know switch plates come in different sizes. Who knew? You knew! Karah, you know so many great things. Love you and am so grateful for your blog.

      • elizabeth says

        my husband had a reno company for many years before he packed it in ,(for health reasons) and I just loved picking up the little tricks they use when renovating, and the plate covers with caulking was one, they used caulking not just on outlet covers but on baseboards, and beadboard for ceilings and just painted white over it when dry and you didn’t know the better-love your site btw-I ll keep coming back

  2. says

    This is so true but, how do you fix a whole whack (like, ALL) of switches and outlets that are crooked because some douchebag contractor was in such a hurry, that he just had to attach all the boxes to the studs in such a way that no matter how large your covers are, they will never fix the crooked/angled toggles or sockets? The only way I fixed them (most of them, but still many to go) was to undo the screws that held the boxes to the studs, then straighten the mount as much as I could…
    Our house is over 30 years old, and I am in the process of replacing all the outlets and switches. I must say I love “Preferred” hardware and the oversized, nylon flexible covers! But, on some switches / outlets, the hole was not bad but the wall was not straight, so I had to build up with a putty, dry, sand, repaint. That solved many issues but, still, some boxes are still a bit “sideways”. I think, if the contractors actually took an extra 20 seconds per box, and attached them straight to begin with, and at the code depth, I would not be cursing them up and down about now…

    • says

      Oh my goodness, what a mess!! The crooked boxes are the worst because no matter what the outlets and switches will screw in crooked. Other than doing what you’re doing I’m not sure there’s another way. And they’re screwed into the studs? That is so weird, I’m having a hard time picturing it but it sounds like your tackling them. So sorry you had to deal with that. If you ever wanted to send me a picture I’d be happy to see if I had any other ideas!

    • Tim Selzer says

      The crooked plugs can usually be fixed easily by adjusting the screws that hold the actual plug into the outlet box. TURN OF THE POWER TO THE OUTLET !! Loosen the screws and use a torpedo level to get it “straight” then tighten back down.

      If you have an outlet that is not set into the wall deep enough, remove the outlet cover, remove the two screws that hold the plug into the box. Check to see if the box is loose or can be tapped/pushed further into the wall using a blunt object and a hammer. If it dos ot move, get some quick-set drywall compound and a 6 inch drywall knife. Using the drywall knife apply the drywall compound around the outlet in a circular fashion, going out 8-10 inches from the outlet and holding one end of the knife flush to the outlet build just enough of the compound to allow the outlet cover to set flush to the wall. Let it dry, sand then paint. Should look like a pro did it!!!

  3. Mimi says

    Oh my gosh! I never thought of that! I’m going out TODAY and picking up a jumbo and finally fixing an outlet that’s bugged me for a while!! I really thought I needed to have an electrician in to reset the box or ? This is much easier and cheaper. Thank you so much!!

  4. Babs says

    I’ve been looking for large cover plates but haven’t been able to find them. Would you be willing to share your source?

  5. says

    Great advice, I have an outlet in my kitchen backsplash that is driving me nuts with a little space in between! Will have to remember this!

      • Marcy says

        Karah – I just discovered these covers at Home Depot too, only to have my hopes of white outlets in our new home dashed when I discovered that the existing boxes don’t have center holes for the screw – only outer edge holes for securing the plates. Aside from caulking these plates to the wall, any suggestions on how I could still make these work? Thanks so much!

        • says

          Hi Marcy! That is so weird, I’m trying to picture an outlet without a screw hole in the middle, please feel free to send me a picture. One idea would be to switch out each outlet, they are actually inexpensive and easy to change out, just be sure to shut the circuit breaker off first. :)

  6. Janene Doherty says

    I’m not trying to cause you more work but your plugs appear to be in upside down? They used to install them in that orientation years ago but now it’s the other way (with the ground plug hole at the bottom) at least, that’s the way it is in most places I’ve seen. Your covers look great! They also make larger switch plate covers as well. Have fun with your project.


Let me know what you think!