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Old 03-28-2019, 08:22 PM   #1
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Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Hi guys,

I rewired most of my home with 4" square boxes with mud rings. The rough-in passed no problem, and I've been chipping away at hanging the drywall. I'm about half done.

For the most part I'm using mud rings that match the drywall depth, giving about 1/8" recess (due to the screws) which is well within NEC allowance. In a few spots I bumped them up a size to account for extra recess or used adjustable ones. So far so good.

To cut holes around boxes, I measured carefully and cut in the garage with an oscillating tool which produces nice, clean cuts. Generally I leave about 1/8" clearance or less. Standard drawn steel mud rings are tapered, though, with a radius at the base, so I have to cut a bit larger to allow the drywall to sit flat.

I measured the coordinates to cut holes to clear the base of the mud ring projection, which has a radius due to the drawn steel construction, with about 1/8" total clearance. This gives be about 1/8" to maneuver the sheetrock. (Without any clearance the board binds at the base of the mud ring due to the radius.)

I thought all was good until I test fit a device and found that the drywall ears barely touch the drywall at all! With multi-gang boxes it appears that even a perfect fit would result in only very marginal contact with the wallboard (see second photo). Even with perfect drywall cuts, the overlap would be at best less under 1/8".

The original phenolic boxes from the 1960s had the screw threads mounted outboard, allowing even a sloppy drywall edge to reach the device. Had I used gem/switch boxes, I'd be enjoying the same advantage, at the cost of box volume.

I have used plastic spacers but would prefer to have the device resting against the finished surface rather than pushing against the box. The boxes are the type with welded brackets which do have some give.

I've also looked at the Caddy RLC brackets, but they do not vertically extend the device's reach.

Is the gap in the first picture something that a drywall finisher would mud in to provide support? Short of cutting at a slant or with a draft, I don't see how I could have cut that hole much tighter.

Will mud around the device rings be strong enough to support receptacles without cracking? Is this something the drywall finisher can take care of, or should I switch strategies for the remaining drywall sheets?

Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support-img_6458.jpg
Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support-img_6459.jpg
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:46 PM   #2
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


1/2" dw requires 5/8" raised mud rings. 5/8" dw requires 3/4" raised mud rings.
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Old 03-29-2019, 06:43 AM   #3
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Instead of attempting to fill in the gaps with mud which may end up cracking and falling out once you start to apply pressure as you screw in the receptacle, as in the ears pressing against the mud may crack.


You can try these. Plastic box extenders. they come in different depths and fit right on top of the existing box. With these you will have a snug fit and far less chance that the receptacle will become loose over time. You may have to trim some of the sheetrock around the box so the box extenders fit flush against the metal box.
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Old 03-29-2019, 04:52 PM   #4
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As an electrician, I often wished that the device ears were bigger and midsize plates were the standard size. Actually, the ears were even smaller at one time about 30 years ago. I guess that was when the smaller metal single gang boxes were in use before plastic ones. I usually put a nut on the mounting screw behind the device yoke and pull it up against it. Takes patients to get it adjusted just right.
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Old 03-29-2019, 05:04 PM   #5
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Take a piece of scrap wire and wrap it around your screw driver. Now you have the perfect spacer to put behind the ears.
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Old 03-29-2019, 05:05 PM   #6
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Quote:
Originally Posted by brric View Post
1/2" dw requires 5/8" raised mud rings. 5/8" dw requires 3/4" raised mud rings.
I have notice that as well, why don't they make 1/2" plaster rings to fit 1/2" drywall.
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Old 03-30-2019, 06:11 AM   #7
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Besides the plastic box extenders I mentioned above with a link you can also use some of these. They snap fit together to provide more depth gap between the face of the box and the back of the receptacle where the screw goes.


You can use these if the box is just a hair set back too far in the wall or if it was set on an angle and the depth from the face of the box to the wall surface is different from the top to the bottom. You can use two of these at the top and one at the bottom as an example.



The box extenders I gave you a link to above are great and useful as if there is a large gap between the face of the box (plastic or metal) and the surface of the wall the box extenders fill that gap to meet code. The spacers in the link here give you the ability to have "substance" behind the receptacle so when you screw in the screw it actually holds to something. I never did nor liked using a curled up piece of wire between the screw and the box as a filler.
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Old 03-30-2019, 11:33 AM   #8
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


STOP!
Go get the correct mud rings for your drywall.
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Old 03-30-2019, 01:22 PM   #9
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Dumb question from a non-electrician and non-rock hanger:

Don't you install the box so it stands 1/2" proud of the stud, so it's even with the sheetrock once it's hung?

Or have I been doing it wrong all these years?

The plastic boxes even have little lines on them to show the correct depth for various thicknesses of sheetrock. The metal ones I've used also have a way to tell where the 1/2" depth mark is.
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Old 03-30-2019, 02:14 PM   #10
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


CaptTom,

You are hanging gang boxes with ears to mount the switch or receptacle to.

The OP is talking about 4x4 boxes which donít have the ears. You use a flat box cover with a raised center section to mount the devices to the cover. It is called a mud ring. Itís the rise on the center section that brings the devices out flush to the drywall.

Here is an example.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Steel-Ci...-202595752-_-N
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Old 03-30-2019, 08:53 PM   #11
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
...The OP is talking about 4x4 boxes which don’t have the ears. You use a flat box cover with a raised center section to mount the devices to the cover. It is called a mud ring.
Ahhh, got it, thanks!!
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Old 03-31-2019, 01:20 PM   #12
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Re: Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support


Quote:
Originally Posted by brric View Post
1/2" dw requires 5/8" raised mud rings. 5/8" dw requires 3/4" raised mud rings.
That's what I'm doing for all new ones. In a few instances, however, the actual depth is between two sizes due to slight stud misalignment and variation in box placement. I've been checking alignment and test fitting a piece of drywall around each mud ring. In most cases sizing up 1/8" looks like it will yield a perfect fit without protruding.

I'm also going to cut new holes a smidge tighter.

I picked up some DuraBond 90 mud to fill in around all the rings after-the-fact. I tried it out yesterday on one particular 5/8 mud ring (with 1/2" drywall) where there was still a minute recess due to a slightly out-of-plane stud. The first fill seems to have cured very strongly around the mud ring, and I plan to leave the final application to a professional drywall finisher. The combination of sizing the mud rings appropriately, mudding the gaps carefully, and using the Caddy metal leveler brackets (to spread the force--pictured below) should yield a very robust solution.

Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support-screen-shot-2019-03-31-1.53.09-pm.png

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Dumb question from a non-electrician and non-rock hanger:

Don't you install the box so it stands 1/2" proud of the stud, so it's even with the sheetrock once it's hung?

Or have I been doing it wrong all these years?
With 4" square boxes, the mud rings do not actually provide the stated depth through the drywall but are typically 1/8" short due to the mounting screws needing to be recessed slightly. (Otherwise the mounting screws push the drywall out or push the box into the wall when the board is hung.)

Steel City makes adjustable mud rings than telescope out from 1/2", but the adjustment screws are located outside the aperture where they can easily be mudded over accidentally during finishing. The depth seems to be set with a crude friction wedge mechanism. They seemed alright, but I think I can do just as well without. The ones I really like using, but work only with 5/8" rock and thicker (or where tile is installed) are carried by Garvin and look like this:

Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support-amr1_inuse1.jpg

I have several of the 1- and 2-gang adjustables installed.

In hindsight, something like this might have also have been useful:

Drywall fit around boxes and mud rings--device support-034481193449.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by afjes2015 View Post
Besides the plastic box extenders I mentioned above with a link you can also use some of these. They snap fit together to provide more depth gap between the face of the box and the back of the receptacle where the screw goes.
I think these will be necessary for the multi-gang junction box in the original post. The box is so tall that, even with tight drywall fit, the device ears won't have much to rest on. Since it will be used for switches (not a receptacle as pictured--grabbed that for demo) the stability should be less critical.

Thanks for your input, everyone!

Last edited by ablodneyget; 03-31-2019 at 01:22 PM.
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