DIY How 2

How to Wire an Outlet – Easy Step by Step Guide

Embarking on the electrifying journey of wiring an outlet? Fear not, for you’ve stumbled upon the holy grail of DIY enlightenment. Whether you’re swapping out a dull plug for something with a bit more pizzazz, or installing your very first outlet and wishing to avoid the hefty bill of a high-priced electrician, this guide to how to wire an outlet is your new best friend. Prepare to be shocked (figuratively, of course) by how easy, and dare we say fun, this task can be!

how to wire an outlet

This article will be perfect for you if:

  1. Your plug’s not working, and you want to replace it
  2. You want to replace your plug with a different color
  3. You have new construction and you want to install the plugs instead of paying a high-priced electrician.

This step-by-step guide on how to wire an outlet will be shown on new construction, but the steps will be the same if you are working with an existing installation.

Tools needed:

how to wire an outlet - tools needed


  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Pliers

Might Need:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Wire strippers

Great to have:

  • Screw gun
  • Non-contact voltage detector

Materials Needed:

  • A new and pretty wall outlet. (This includes ones that incorporate USB charging ports – the installation steps will be exactly the same.)
  • An outlet faceplate (I recommend using the unbreakable nylon kind. Otherwise, the faceplate will almost certainly crack unless your plug fits perfectly flush to the wall.)

How to Wire an Outlet – First Thing‘s First

It should go without saying, but before you mess with electrical wires, MAKE SURE THE POWER IS OFF. Hopefully you have a breaker box that is labelled clearly and correctly and you can easily find the breaker to turn off. If not, I recommend you just turn them all off. Better safe than sorry.

Next, just to be super-safe, use your non-contact voltage detector and hold it close to the wires (or the screws of your existing plug if you are replacing) and make sure power is off.

Let’s get started with how to wire an outlet:

1. Cut the Wires

If this is new construction, first step is to cut all the wires the same length.

cut wires to same length
how to wire an outlet - strip wires

2. Strip the Wires

Next, strip the hot (black) and neutral (white) wires about 1/2 inch. Make sure at least the last 1/2 inch of the ground wire (copper wire with no shield) is clean (if not, i use my wire strippers to scrape it until it is clean).

3. Curl the Wires

With your pliers, grab about an eighth of an inch of the tip of the wire and curl it into a U shape. Curl the black wire upwards and the white and copper wires downwards (see photo). This method ensures that the wires are curled the same direction as the tightening screws.

curl the wires

If there are two of each wire, follow the above instructions for all 6 wires.

4. Connect the Hot

If necessary, loosen the screws on the plug. Connect the black wire to the right (brass) side of the plug. Tighten. (If you have two black wires, connect the other one to the other brass screw and tighten.

5. Connect the Neutral

Connect the white wire(s) to the left (silver) side of the plug and tighten.

6. Connect the Ground

Connect the ground (unshielded copper wire) to the green screw. I’ll admit, this usually is a little more challenging to get the wire into the compact area around the green screw. Don’t be scared to wrestle that sucker until you get it in.

If you have 2 ground wires, you will want to twist them together with ONE of them longer – then connect the long end into the green screw (see photo).

7. Screw the plug to the box

New plugs will come with the connecting screws already inserted. These will screw into the wall box. Although you CAN use a hand screw driver for this – trust me – it is much easier and faster if you have a screw gun. Just be careful not to strip the screws when you get towards the end.

8. Install the Face Plate

Once your plug is snug against the wall, install the faceplate with a flat screw driver. These will also come with the needed screw. Note: If your plug has a wall hole that’s a little too large, you can buy an oversize plate. These can really save your butt when someone has done a sloppy job installing the electrical boxes in your home.

that's how you wire an outlet!


Congratulations, you have finished our guide on “how to wire an outlet.” Now all you have to do is turn the power on!

Don’t miss our other articles including how to wire a switch, how to wire a GFCI outlet and how to wire a light.

If you have any comments or suggestions about this article, please use our contact form to drop us a line!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top