I have a couple of power outlets in my cabinets, one for a built-in microwave, the other for a countertop light. Should they be (1) flush with the wall and have the opening in the cabinet cut out bigger so that a face plate can be installed resting on the wall or (2) flush with the cabinet, using an electrical box extension, so that the face plate rests on the cabinet?

The advantage of (1) is that it spares using box extensions but of (2) it preserves more of the structurally important horizontal boards in the back of the cabinet on the top and bottom but the advantage and it also looks more elegant.


The ruling factor is that the junction box must be made of an appropriate material. Not particle board.

If you have a junction box inset into the wall so it's flush, and then you put 3/4" of wood material above it, and use the long outlet screws to mount through that, then effectively the junction box walls are wood. So if things get sparking or molten-copper-dripping in there, it sets the wood on fire. Whee!

You may say "but they allow this with drywall!" Drywall doesn't burn. It's used as a firestop, actually.

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