I have 3/4" thick pine rough-cut paneling covering my wall studs.

I'm attempting to replace three dated wall-mount candelabra sconces attached to boxes underneath the paneling. (Picture 1)

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The old lamps are attached to the box via a middle threaded pipe. (Picture 2)

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The new lamps have conventional side-mount screws. The mounting plate wants to screw into the box, but the hole cut in the paneling for the box isn't big enough to allow for this.

Can I simply screw the mounting plate into the 3/4" paneling itself? (Picture 3)

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I'm trying to determine if this is a safety issue, and I can't for the life of me figure out why it would be any less safe than the current fixture.

  • Can you provide us with a straight-on shot of the box please? Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


You should be fine as long as you also install a box extension. It looks like you will probably need to cut your recess a little bigger in your paneling.

NEC 314.20:

Flush-Mounted Installations. Installations within or behind a surface of concrete, tile, gypsum, plaster, or other noncombustible material, including boxes employing a flush-type cover or faceplate, shall be made so that the front edge of the box, plaster ring, extension ring, or listed extender will not be set back of the finished surface more than 6 mm (1∕4 in.).

Installations within a surface of wood or other combustible surface material, boxes, plaster rings, extension rings, or listed extenders shall extend to the finished surface or project therefrom.

So if your wall material is one of the non-combustible ones listed, you can have the box be up to 1/4" recessed. But the wood requires the box to be flush and you can use an extension to make it so.

And you are right, it wouldn't be any less safe than the current setup, but the current setup is unsafe and not up to code. If there is a bad connection in that box and things start to heat up in there, you want something fire-rated in between the heat source and the wood paneling.

In addition to the above, you will also need to follow the instructions provided with your light fixture. If the instruction say don't do this, then you shouldn't do it.

  • Thank you! This may be a dumb question, but is there a way to insulate the box hole in the surrounding paneling without installing an extension box? I'm thinking of some sort of flexible tape or stripping...? If I need to install the extension boxes, I'll have to cut more out of the wall... I was really hoping to avoid doing that.
    – Eric Etkin
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:36
  • The code section is pretty specific, you must have the box, plaster ring, extension ring or other listed extender flush with the wall. If you can find some flexible material that is listed for this purpose, you could use that. I have never seen that, though. If you have one of can borrow one, an oscillating tool would make extending that opening quick and easy. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:41
  • Arlington BE1 or Add a Depth ring. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 20:07

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