Grommets: What Are They, and Why Should You Stock Them for Your Projects?

Woking on projects around the home is a non-negotiable part of homeownership, even if you don’t have the same DIY experience or expertise as others. Soon you’ll find yourself handy enough with a saw, hammer and drill that you’ll be happy tackling all manner of home reno projects. But for the nitty-gritty stuff, like running cables through walls, you’ll need to go back to class a bit – particularly if you’ve never heard the word ‘grommet’ before.

What is a Grommet?

Put simply, a grommet is a form of fitting used primarily to fasten, protect or seal cables and wiring, where said cables and wires pass through a material or barrier. The grommet acts as a barrier of its own, preventing the cabling from fraying, shearing or getting damaged against a rough or sharp edge. Interestingly enough, the term comes from 17th century French, where ‘gourmer’ referred to the curb of a horse’s bridle.

A key example may be where electrical wires need to leave an aluminum breakout box at an oblique angle, necessitating the drilling of new holes. These holes will have burred edges, which are more likely to cut or abrade the wires run along them over time; grommets cover these edges over, providing a smooth and stable surface for the wires to run along. Some are tight enough, too, to act as strain relief or cable securance.

Types of Grommets

The term ‘grommet’ is a relatively broad church, touching on a variety of different shapes, forms and use cases despite the niche nature of the device itself. The vast majority of grommets are composed of rubber, in order to aid in the grommet’s purpose as a protective agent. Some, though, take hardier plastic forms for specific purposes.

Rubber electrical grommets are amongst the most common types of grommets in use today, for the reasons outlined in the above example. Electrical use cases have also spawned extruded grommet types that sit half-way between grommet and conduit (conduit, of course, being the pipework or protective sheathing that encloses cables on runs along walls or in crawlspaces).

There are different shapes of grommets as well as different sizes and types, each of which are suited to different enclosures or purposes. Oval grommets are commonly used where ribbon cables are run through a thin slit in a material, while long-necked grommets are designed to stand a cable or wire off from the surface through which it runs.

Practical Uses for Grommets

Grommets are hugely useful on account of their intended, practical purposes as explored above – however, they can also be used for a variety of domestic and DIY purposes, beyond their design. For instance, grommets can be used to protect the health of your shower curtains, fasten tablecloths to tables or even provide strain relief when carrying bags out of the store.