Outlet-Hole Patch

When installing new electrical outlets and wall switches, it's easy to cut the holes for the electrical boxes a bit too big. In some cases, the outlet cover or switch plate won't be able to hide the mistake. Plus, oversize holes allow cold drafts to blow in around the electrical box.

The traditional way to fix this problem is to fill the space with joint compound and apply a single strip of joint tape. Although that approach conceals the damage temporarily, the repair is relatively brittle.

A much better option is to cover the entire area — including the electrical box — with a FibaTape Outlet Repair Patch ($2) from PermaGlas-Mesh. This 7x7-inch fiberglass patch is similar to standard fiberglass-mesh tape, except that it is reinforced with thick diagonal strands of fiberglass. These strands lend the tape superior strength.

Begin by turning off the electricity to the room. Then wipe the wall around the electrical box clean of all dust and dirt. Peel off the backing paper from the patch and stick the patch to the wall (step 1). Be sure that it extends at least an inch past the damaged area.

Next, use a sharp utility knife to carefully cut away the mesh that's covering the front of the electrical box (step 2). Use a 6-inch-wide drywall knife to spread joint compound over the entire patch (step 3). Don't worry if some of the compound oozes into the electrical box; it will break off easily once it has dried. Lightly sand the patch, then apply two thinner coats of compound.

Step By Step

1. After peeling off the backing paper, press the fiberglass-mesh patch to the wall directly over the outlet.

2. Use a sharp utility knife to carefully cut away the mesh section that's covering the electrical box.

3. Apply joint compound over the entire area, spreading it well beyond the 7x7-inch fiberglass-mesh patch.

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