GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Outlets in floor vs wall

drewintoledo | Posted in General Questions on

To minimize exterior wall holes that compromise my shell, I am contemplating installing all outlets intended for the exterior walls to be installed in the floor long the walls. 

I don’t see any troubles with this, but I’m sure there’s plenty I’m not thinking of.

Outside of code reasons, what are the negative ramifications of moving outlets to the floor?  I’m assuming slightly greater box cost, but can’t come up with much more than that. 

what do you think?

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    They'll get trashed eventually, that's the big downside. Floor outlets get full of dirt, and they get smashed from feet and furniture. If you do go this route though, I would use METAL floor boxes, and STEEL covers. Anything else is going to get damaged even faster. If you look at commerical in-floor boxes, you'll find that they are very heavy duty -- plates are typically 1/16" thick steel, sometimes even thicker than that. They are made to take a lot of abuse and not break.

    You MIGHT have some issues with your city here too. There are recomendations for receptacle height on the wall, and obviously floor outlets won't meet that. I don't think that's a real "code" issue though (but I've never actually checked).

    Personally, I would put the outlets in the walls where needed and just air seal them. You could compromise a bit and use the shallow depth wiremold surface boxes on your baseboard, but that would be an aesthetic issue.


    1. Robert Opaluch | | #4

      As well as liquid spills getting into the outlets!

  2. jacobtig | | #2

    a big issue is ADA requirements which require receptacles to be a certain height off the floor. 15” to the bottom of box maybe?? Maybe inspector will allow floor outlets along the exterior and wall outlets along all interiors?

  3. Patrick_OSullivan | | #3

    I had a single outlet in my dining room floor, presumably where previous owners had some sort of lit cabinet or something. I absolutely hated it and was glad to get rid of it.

    I would not put in floor outlets in a house unless I had zero other options.

  4. Robert Opaluch | | #5

    I put as many outlets on interior partitions as I could, to reduce the number on nearby exterior walls. That might help you somewhat, but won't eliminate that many on exterior walls.

  5. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #6

    The code requirements for floor outlets are rigorous. You can't just put a regular outlet on the floor, you have to use a floor-rated outlet and junction box. When I looked at floor outlets it was hard to find that assembly for less than $40 each.

    A well-detailed outlet box in an exterior wall doesn't have that big a penalty. Depending on your wall construction you could probably make the penalty zero by using shallow boxes and putting a piece of polyiso behind each box.

  6. Expert Member


    As DC says, the problem isn't large enough to worry about finding a solution for.

  7. jberks | | #8

    Air sealing outlets aren't difficult. After wiring rough in (and confirmed). A can of spray foam makes quick work of it. Also if you fill the back of the box to the sheathing, it saves the insulator from the detail work of filling the back of the box (which many will try to skip out on when you're not looking)

    I generally use plastic boxes as well, that makes it easy to use sealant instead of foam, if you're against foam.

    Also note that you have to have, well, airtight drywall details for the air infiltration through outlet boxes to be a concern. So wouldn't be so worried about outlets, as that is the easy part to airseal. Spend more time learning about good drywall sealing practices.


  8. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #9

    I have used floor outlets with large walls of glass, where there are no walls to locate code-compliant outlets, and in the middle of large rooms where furniture is not placed against the wall. As others have noted, get the right materials for the job, which probably means going to an electrical supply house and not your local big-box store. I prefer covers that are flush to the floor instead of raised but they are harder to find.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |