This may be a bit of a subjective question, but I was just thinking about it. I've seen many electrical boxes that are full of drywall compound, often to the point of having to dig the wires out of it so you can use it.

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To prevent this, should the boxes be taped up (with tape and/or plastic cover) prior to drywall going up, or is this just caused by lazy/sloppy mudding? Is this the responsibility of the electrician or drywaller?

4 Answers 4


When hanging, there's the day laborer way, which is to put the drywall up over the box and then roto-zip the box, and there's the pro way, which is to cut the hole ahead of time because you've got the skill to measure and mark it. When mudding as in the above picture, the guys will often get a big chunk of mud into the box (It's hard not to... especially when working fast with hot mud), but it's their responsibility to get it back out once it hardens.

Construction is changing, though. New standards for energy efficiency are encouraging things like caulking all seams in drywall (especially around outlets), which requires much more care from installers.

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    +1, to block drafts, you end up with a lot of mud in the boxes.
    – BMitch
    Aug 19, 2011 at 17:38
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    Very common situation and often unavoidable. This is not the sign of bad workmanship, just lazy finish clean-up. That is why electricians hate mudders! LOL. A little mud in an electrical box is much better than a gap around the box that will leak air and show when the cover is installed. Aug 20, 2011 at 11:25
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    ... Funny, from listening to them work, I think all the other trades complain specifically about sparky. ;) Aug 20, 2011 at 18:00
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    All trades complain about all the other trades. And praise all the other trades. And complain about and praise the other guys in their own. Obligatory Song Citation: It All Makes Work For The Working Man To Do ("It was on a Monday morning...").
    – keshlam
    Aug 29, 2014 at 19:26
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    BTW, there's also the other solution for folks who can't measure: Insert the screws into the box's mounting holes so they protrude just slightly, lift drywall into place, press firmly so screws mark the back of the drywall, lower drywall, use those marks to align a spare box, draw a line around it and cut the opening.
    – keshlam
    Aug 29, 2014 at 19:29

I am a general contractor and I'm having a house redone right now after the electrician and plumber roughed in. I tape off the plumbing and stuff newspaper in the electric boxes and light fixture boxes. When the mudding is done and they do the finish, I'll go around and remove the newspaper and clean up the boxes.

This takes about an hour total time and sparkey and plumber will love you for it. If it's a time and material job, you will save a couple of hours on both subs, so it's a big payback.

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    Welcome to diy.SE Nick, it's great seeing contractors around here! Also, fantastic idea with the newspaper stuffed in the junction boxes -- deserves all the upvotes it can get. Apr 30, 2015 at 22:17

IMHO this is sloppy mudding, pure and simple.

If it were my project, it would be the responsibility of the dry waller, but I am not a contractor.

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    You don't want your taper digging around in your electrical boxes. They won't exercise the same caution with the wiring as the electrician would.
    – isherwood
    May 23, 2016 at 18:59

The answers on here are not how I would expect any pro to handle drywall/mudding. You simply stuff the electrical boxes with newspaper. That's it.

Doesn't come out until you are done sanding.

After you take it out you have a few slivers here and there to clean up. You use a utility knife (no automated tool - which would be slower and cause a dust mess).

You are left with a clean box that has mud protection around it. This is basically free and you can stuff all the boxes in a house in a few minutes.

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