My home’s electrical panel is mounted on a wood board on frames inside the garage. I’m trying to finish the garage with drywall.

This is the electrical box, with wires comes out all sides and sticking out about 6” or more from the studs.

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This is my plan for it — to build a wooden box that covers most of this area.

Here is the before and after.

Before: enter image description here

After, with wooden box constructed around this area jutting out, and drywall covering up the rest.

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Can I do this? Or do I need something more complicated considering it’s an electrical box. As always, I don’t really have any money to pay a contractor, especially if it’s something I can DIY.

ETA: here are the wires coming out.

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3 Answers 3


Yeah, that looks legit. To add a few points to what manassehkatz says, you currently have a surface mount panel. You want a flush-mount panel cover, which has a flat surface which protrudes significantly past the edge of the panel box (to cover up the gap where the drywall stops short of the panel). I can't tell from the thumbnail, but you may have a flush-mount cover already - if not, the manufacturer probably sells them.

I don't know what your fear level is regarding pulling the panel cover off during drywalling. Normally you do do that, so you can fit the drywall snug enough that the flush-mount cover will cover the gap.

You may be familiar with the drywall rule which says junction boxes can be sunk a little bit into drywall... the "drywall ears" on switches and receptacles will auto-correct that. This rule does not exist for service panels. The drywall cannot even be a micron proud of the panel edge and the panel cover must go all the way down with the screws bottoming out. That's because the cover physically holds the breakers in place, keeping them from "rocking out" when you throw them hard. If it's even a little too far away, the breakers won't hook the cover edge and will rock right out. So be extra careful with drywall clearance.

Now, will you EVER add another circuit to this panel? Make your final answer now. If "no" then get a tattoo of that :) Otherwise, think of adding an easily-removed panel above and/or below the panel, so you have easy access to route cables in and out of it.

I understand the compulsion to "finish" every square foot of a house so you can increase the square footage in the real estate listing (which is the basis for the asking price)... but houses need maintainable utilities (unless they're Amish).

Speaking of resale value, we're seeing people get higher offers for houses with a 20-50A dedicated circuit to the garage that serves one socket or box and could be easily converted for 240V EV charging.

  • Thanks for this detail, you rock. I’d love to upgrade the box, it’s from 1991 apparently? But again, broke broke broke. I mostly just hate looking at this unfinished mess in my woodshop so it’s a passion project, but I need to basically upgrade this whole house and make it pristine to sell above what I bought for. The Millennial’s Dilemma. Mar 23 at 0:05
  • 1
    Perhaps the colors are playing tricks on me, but that panel doesn't look gray. It looks like Sandalwood. That makes it Cutler-Hammer/Eaton "CH". If I was walking through the Tesla Gigafactory and saw that panel, I wouldn't blink an eye. That is one of the finest industrial panels made, nevermind residential. Very well supported. There is no possible upgrade, except for a CH panel with more spaces :) ObDisclaimer: I am a CH fanboy. Mar 23 at 2:17
  • May I add, that it could improve the security, if he adds a high-density gypsum fibre board underneath the junction box? It would add a lot of heat resistance, in case of some wires are not screwed correctly into the switches (which will cause excessive heat load). The wires itself likely usually don't fail, where switches and junctions are likely to fail. My 2ct
    – Semo
    Mar 23 at 7:19

You can enclose the cables entering the top and sides just fine, but you must not bury the junction box and transformers at the bottom. Those must remain accessible without tools.

  • 1
    You mean the smaller boxes underneath the main panel? What are those for? Is it sufficient to make a hinged access door for these and still have it covered when not in use? Mar 23 at 2:01
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    @podcastfan88 Criteria is without tools. If you can access them by opening a door, then yes. If you have to unscrew a wall panel, or smash away concrete with a sledgehammer, then no.
    – Nelson
    Mar 23 at 7:41
  • @podcastfan88 yep, a simple access panel is sufficient to keep them covered in use, but still accessible. You can get simple panels with spring loaded clips: images.thdstatic.com/productImages/… or panels with frames, and even hinges: cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-sy018d9yee/images/stencil/1280x1280/…. If you want to splurge you can even get them in metal.
    – Huesmann
    Mar 23 at 14:57

That should be fine. If the wires are actually cables rather than wires in conduit then you need to add protection if the cables will be within a few inches of the drywall.

Since this is a breaker panel you may need future access. An easy way to do that is to put a piece of plywood above the panel, painted to match the drywall. Attach it with hinges on one side. Whenever you need to run a new cable, just open the door.

  • Thanks! I added pictures of the wires. Not totally sure what this stuff is. Thinking I will make the front hinged so I can still get access to the whole area. Mar 22 at 22:54

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