Buying Switch Plates vs. Painting Switch Plates
- Should You Buy New Plates or Repaint Current Ones?: Previously painted cover plates may be used as long as they were prepared properly the first time they were painted. Switchplates that have been painted too many times tend to have a thick, lumpy look, so it may be best to buy new ones in this situation. Also, lightswitch plates that were painted while still on the wall (perhaps because a painter didn't bother to remove them) will never have a clean crisp edge again. Best to start fresh.
- Choosing Switch Plates: You can use metal, plastic, wood, mirrored glass or ceramic wall plates, however the best adhesion will be to metal. If you're remodeling and need new wallplates, Kyle Design carries an extensive selection of switch plate sizes in a wide range of finishes.
Crafts Supplies Required for Painting Light Switch Plate Covers
- Primer: Supplies needed for painting light switch wall plates: Plate, stir stick, paintbrush, primer paint and wall paint in desired color. For best results and no unhappy surprises in the future, we recommend using a primer paint, such as Rustoleum Painter's Touch Ultracover Primer, to prep the plates first. If you'll be using a spray-painted color, check the label for directions as a primer may not be necessary on certain plate finishes. If you choose to skip this step, then lightly sand or rough up the surface of your plates to help with the adhesion of the paint. Be sure to clean off all the dust before proceeding.
- Paint Color: Select wall paint or spray paint in desired color. If you paint your switch plates the same color as the walls, then you will have to repaint them every time you repaint your room. Paint color may fade over time, so even if you are painting the walls the same color as before, it is quite likely that the plates still won't match.
- Finish Coat: For a finish, use an acrylic clear coat, spray on Varathane such as Flecto Diamond Finish Varathane, or liquid varnish such as waterbased Delta Ceramacoat Gloss Interior Varnish.
- Tools: You'll need one or two paint brushes, stir stick, and a clean work surface covered with wax paper or plastic wrap.
Instructions for Painting Light Switch Wall Plate CoversFor an elegant finishing touch, easily change the color of light switch plates without replacing them. So in just a few quick steps you can have beautiful new-looking switch plates coordinated to match your wall treatments. It's as easy as 1-2-3!
- Step 1: Apply Primer - Remove switchplates from the wall and lay on a clean surface such as a piece of cardboard, plastic wrap or wax paper. If necessary, tape to the surface to prevent rolling or shifting. (Avoid newsprint and paper towels as they tend to stick to the paint.) Make sure switch plate is clean and free of grease. If using spray primer, spray in well-ventilated area per instructions and allow to dry. Don't forget to paint the screws as well. Push screws into a piece of cardboard to hold them upright and protect the threads from being coated with paint. Fill outlet slots with cardboard to prevent paint from entering.
- Step 2: Apply Paint - When primed plate is dry, brush or spray paint with new color. If a second coat is needed, make sure paint is thoroughly dry. Wall paint may take a day to dry. If undercoat isn't completely dry, paint may peel off in the future.
Finishing Steps for Painting Switchplates or Outlet CoversYou'll want to seal your wall plates with a clear, durable protective finish such as Varathane or liquid varnish.
- Step 3: Seal Finish - Once paint is dry you must seal the finish so that it can withstand constant handling and cleaning. Spray with a clear, durable protective finish such as Varathane or paint on the liquid varnish.
- Paint Tip - For a more professional look use spray paint to achieve the most even finish. Rustoleum offers a wide range of paint colors as well as specialty spray paints that recreate the look of metallics, granite and other natural materials.
- Application Tip - If painting with your wall color, a paint roller to achieve a slightly textured surface that may coordinate better with your wall texture. Make sure the roller has a very light coat of paint on it. (Roll it on newsprint to remove excess paint first.) This is also an effective method for quickly painting large quantities of wall plates at once.
- Tips for Choosing a Color - Dark Walls: Light colored wallplates stand out and draw the eye, so we recommend painting with another dark color that will complement or blend with the colors of the room.
- Tips for Choosing a Color - Light Walls: Painting the color of the trim can be an attractive way to coordinate the switch plates with the colors of the room.
Painting Electrical Outlets or Light SwitchesThe switches and electrical sockets can also be painted to match the plates. A good time to do this is when the plates are already off the wall. Be sure the power to the devices has been shut off at the circuit panel before attempting to paint them. If painting receptacles, put a small piece of cardboard or folded up paper in each opening to prevent paint from going inside the device. (See photo.) Lightly brush or spritz the device with paint then seal when completely dry.
Don't Want to Paint Your Outlets or Switches? - If you don't feel like going through all that work each time you paint of if you are concerned about the painted devices getting scratched or worn off with daily use, it may be better just to switch out the devices for a coordinating color. Lighter color devices come in white, light almond and ivory. Consider using gray electrical devices with medium or cool wall colors. Dark wall paint colors look best with black or brown electrical devices.
Alternatives to Painting Switch Plate CoversWallpapered Plates - Want to cover a switch plate or outlet cover with wallpaper? Find instructions here: Decoupage Switch Plates How-To Instructions. Or the easiest approach is to simply buy decorative switch plates in a beautiful yet durable metal finish. Kyle Design sells metal switchplates in a huge variety of sizes and finishes so it may not even be necessary to paint your old covers. Shop Light Switch Plates and Electric Outlet Covers in All Sizes for more than 300 sizes in 20 finishes.
Article copyright Kyle Design 2011. If you enjoyed this article, please do not copy it but instead link to it. Thank you, Kyle