Cutting Drywall Around Outlets

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Tap measure
Drywall/Utility knife
Keyhole saw
Four foot level
Drywall square

If you’re planning on installing new drywall in your home, learning the proper techniques for cutting drywall around outlets and other objects is a must. The more accurate the cuts, the less time and material you’ll need for taping and spackling once the drywall is installed.

To master these cuts you’ll need the following tools:

Step 1 – Measuring the Outlet

The most important part in cutting drywall around an outlet or any object for that matter is to take accurate measurements of the object. The more precise you are with your measurements, the more accurate the cut will be. Start by measuring the width of the outlet by placing the blade of the tape measure directly against the previously installed board’s edge. Stretch the tape and record the measurement to the right and left edge of the outlet on a scrap piece of paper. Now repeat the process for the vertical measurements and record them on the paper as well. Try and get your measurements right down to the 16th of an inch.

Step 2 – Marking the Drywall Board

Now that you have your outlet measurements recorded you’ll have to transfer them onto the drywall board. Place the board so that it is lying horizontally on the floor. Next, take your tape measure and mark each horizontal and vertical measurement. Then take the drywall square and lay it along the beveled edge of the board aligning it with the left and right measurements. Draw a line so that it passes the top and bottom measurements so that you have the outline of the box. Now repeat the process for the top and bottom marks. If the drywall square will not reach the marks, you can always use the 4-foot level as an alternative straight edge. When you’re finished, you should have an outline of the outlet on the board.

Step 3 – Cutting the Drywall Board

The final step is actually cutting the drywall board using a keyhole saw. These hand tools are readily available at any local home supply outlet and only cost a few dollars. A sharp keyhole saw is a must, especially when dealing with a large number of cuts. To begin, place the saw in one of the corners of the outlet box you’ve just drawn and bang it through the drywall. Then continue along the outline until the box is cut out.

To keep the board from sliding while you saw keep one hand on the top and place your foot against the bottom of the board. After the outlet has been cut, go to the back side of the drywall board and rip off any loose pieces of the paper backing. Then using a utility knife score a beveled edge along all the sides of the outlet cut. The beveled edge will allow you to press the board firmly against the outlet without causing bulges or cracks in the drywall.