My ideas are to cut small niches out of the tile to allow the trim plate screws to fit. Right now they are hitting the tile and will not go all the way in. I have ceramic tile drill bits (carbide). I have a grinder. I ordered a multi-tool but it won't be here for a week or so. I am aware I will need a diamond blade to cut tile with. Any suggestions? Should I try the carbide drill bits? I think the grinder will rip the crap out of it. I believe it is ceramic tile and not porcelain.

enter image description here

More Pics of outlet trim plate screws hitting tile

  • Please post your images here using the editor. Some of us can't see Google Drive.
    – isherwood
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:15
  • I just looked at your pics, esp #2 and took the liberty of moving one to the post. This problem is particularly annoying with mosaics. You see the cracked grout near your problem area, that will keep happening. I suggest you remove the plaster ears, install spacers so the outlet is tight to the box, not the tiles, and if you can cut the screw rather than modify the tile, that would be safer. My Answer (triangle file) would be hard with this small tile, already cracking. Did you try it yet? You want to avoid putting pressure on the tile fragments at the edge.
    – jay613
    Oct 5, 2023 at 14:29
  • Next time you do tile consider this: Use metal boxes and mud rings, and do a mockup with your actual wallboard and actual tile, to determine the exact depth of mud ring you need for a perfect finish. This makes the backing for the outlet and the tiles around it a lot stronger, and easier to install straight, flush and solid.
    – jay613
    Oct 5, 2023 at 14:34
  • I did finish it up using a Dremel tool with a diamond blade to cut little niches in the grout/tile so the screws would not hit the tile. all but one came out great and the one that is not great is not too bad. Thanks!
    – Rallyman99
    Oct 8, 2023 at 13:08

4 Answers 4


Cut the screws. Many electrical wire strippers have a shearing part that’s designed for exactly this task.

And next time, try not to put tile too close.

This image shows the tool in action. I can assure you this is zero skill and you end up with clean threads that will bite properly into the receptacle.

wire stripper illustration

  • If you have the skill to cut a 5/16" screw with wire strippers, you probably also have the skill to never find yourself in OP's situation. :) No seriously, if the screw hole is butt against the tile and you want to solve this by cutting it, you'll have one turn of the thread left on the screw and that one turn will be slightly damaged by your cutters.
    – jay613
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:44
  • BTW, I didn't do the tile so not my fault. but I did not manage the tile guy well enough obviously. I agree cutting those tiny little screws would take WAY more skill than I possess! Lol! edit; forgot to say thank you for all the help! I found this site from the old reddit sub. Fuck Reddit! Am I right? it has gone so far downhill since that shithead fucked with the 3rd party API...thing...I am not too technical.
    – Rallyman99
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:57
  • Well, your tile guy shoulda known, but there’s a reason these screw cutters exist… Oct 4, 2023 at 19:50
  • +1 for adding proof! I'll leave my prior comment for egg in my face .... good lesson.
    – jay613
    Oct 4, 2023 at 20:11

I use a triangular file to cut a notch in the tile edge, at a 45 degree angle from the wall face. The notch is just deep enough for the screw, which is not very deep and not all the way through the tile. It takes about 10 seconds.

It's easy to remove a little tile from an already-cut edge, especially at an angle and with no mind to finish quality because it will be covered. It's a lot harder to start a tile drill on the face of a tile less than a quarter inch from its cut edge. If I ever did try that, I must have forced it out of my memory!

I may have had some lazy moments when I did the same using the screwdriver already in my hand, as a cold chisel, and my fist, always convenient, as a hammer. Not recommending this, it has its risks, but it has worked for me for this very tiny task.

  • A Dremel with a cutting wheel would work too—just gotta cut out a small triagle.
    – Huesmann
    Oct 5, 2023 at 14:02

so wanted to post an update - enter image description here

not sure how this site works yet so if this is the wrong way, please let me know. All but one turned out great. I used a Dremel tool with a diamond blade to carve out a little half circle niche for the screws. There was one where trying that was risking busting out a lot of grout and messing up the tile so that one I will just have to live with working screws

  • Having taken the tour, you should know that this site works by up voting any/all answers that helped you, then clicking the check mark next to the answer that helped you the most. Unless you did something totally different than what was suggested, reposting one of the answers as your own answer doesn't really help.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 10, 2023 at 15:30

All of the above.

You can use the drill bits. Carbide are good, but what really matters is the shape of the tip. It should look like this:

tile bit

The angle grinder with a diamond blade will also work. Just go slow and remove a mm at a time.

Last, one of my favorite tools for this type of one-off job is a tile cutting bit for Dremel tools. It looks like this and works great:

Dremel bit

  • 1
    Depending on how much needs to be removed, a drill bit might work. If you've got someplace to put the center point and it's far enough from the edge that it won't wander out, you'll be OK.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:13
  • @FreeMan "If" :) I'm not sure how sarcastic your "If" is meant to be? The distance from the center of the yoke mounting hole and the cover mounting hole is 9/64 inch. Add half the screw diameters and the distance between the cover mounting hole edge and the edge of the tile is ... IDK, less than 9/64. Maybe if I use my 1/32 tile bit ... now where did I put that? :-p
    – jay613
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:35
  • Apparently not meant as sarcastically as it should have been. Didn't think through the math fully, but wanted to warn against attempting to use a drill bit as a carbide grinder, going in from the cut edge of the tile.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 4, 2023 at 14:48

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