I have a receptacle box that needs to be reinstalled. While replacing one of the cables running to the box, the drywall became damaged. With this level of damage, is my best bet to cut out and replace a large section of the drywall (10in by 16in) between the two adjacent studs and make a receptacle cut out in the new piece of drywall? Is there another way that is any easier, what provides enough support for the box?

image of box and drywall

  • 1
    Can you relocate the box to a stud and then repair the existing box location? – JACK May 5 '20 at 18:01
  • The current location is next to a stud on the left, but since this is a "old work" box, it attaches to the drywall with wings. I'm just not sure about having those wings try to secure the box given the current condition of the drywall where the wings would make contact. – Jake May 5 '20 at 18:04
  • I prefer stud to stud repairs for many things but it’s just about a must with an old work box. You could install a construction box and have about 1/2 the area to repair but that could be more work / take longer than a stud to stud patch. – Ed Beal May 5 '20 at 18:09
  • It looks like the major damage is at the top-left? The top wing would make contact at the top-right. It really looks like you should be able to re-install the box without issue in the current drywall. You may need to get some self-leveling plates for your device and an over-sized wall plate to cover the damage. This is not much worse than the holes cut by some drywall installers on new drywall. – PhilippNagel May 5 '20 at 18:33

Don't "attach to drywall" if a stud is available.

Seriously. You can have some pretty large insert/remove forces on a socket - 10 or 20 pounds. Drywall is chalk covered with paper. It is simply not made to bear that, and the goofy "wings" that grab-the-drywall boxes use won't hold up to the strain.

If it was a switch, maybe not so bad... but for a recep, no, definitely use any means necessary to screw into that stud with a box capable of that.

I would go for a steel box because it will attach well to screws with no risk of tearing out... and then use wood screws with either a 90 degree ratchet screwdriver, or a hex head screw and a wrench. Royal PITA, once, and then the job is done first-rate and you never have to sweat it again.

Now that we're not using it for attachment, that drywall damage is just an "oops". Cover that with an extended cover plate, which are widely sold for just that purpose.


With drywall repairs, larger is not harder (really, within anything like reason) and certainly a "stud to stud" repair is easier/faster than fiddling with supporting a patch between studs, much less a patch that's supporting a box. Mostly, you'll be waiting for mud to dry.

Unless there's some particular reason/need to retain the particular box, you could also move the box to a stud (unless there's a reason not to) and replace with a "new work" box - or install a hunk of wood between studs to support a new work box out between studs if the location can't be shifted 8 inches or less one way or the other.

Since you'll have a large area opened for the patch, you have access for installing a "new work" type box.

  • Yes, a new work box, why I asked about the stud. + – JACK May 5 '20 at 18:35

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