Wall switch and outlet cover options

bignichJanuary 14, 2008

what's the recommended trick for making wall cover plates disappear visually into the wall? So many pics of redecorated rooms show a stark contrast between the white plates and a colored wall. It doesn't loog good IMHO. What may look as bad is painted over plates, looks like the painter was too lazy to remove them.

I thought about removing them, painting them with the same wall paint and then a matt or semigloss clear spray paint at slightly change the look and make them more cleanable.

What do the pros do, or what have you done that you find acceptable? I don't like the contrasting decor type stuff either.


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I'm no pro but am right at the point of a kitchen remodel that I too am faced with trying to make several outlets and switches disappear.

We have a gray and rust backsplash (Fire & Ice Quartzite) and dark gray granite (Impala Black) so have decided to go with gray outlets, switches, dimmers and plates or gray plates and outlets with black switches/dimmers.

Lutron and Aspire offer many different colors, far more than what you see at Home Depot and such. Though we're going with Aspire as I feel they offer a more trendy, updated look, at least for the dimmers.

Another idea that someone just posted a week or so again was to take a photo of your backsplash, print it out full size, glue to regular plate and clearcoat. You mighy have to experiment some to get your colors right but it might look alright. Or side the photo into a clear switch plate.

Another solution might be to install all your outlets and switches under the cabinet if you have a skirt around the bottom to hide under cab lights.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 12:45PM
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If you want the plates to blend in with the walls, by all means paint them. I like to use matte washable paint for our walls, so that is what I use on the plates too. Be sure to remove the plates first. Don't forget to paint the screw heads. If you use the flat panel rocker switches you will have a larger target when you go to turn on the lights and you won't be touching the switchplate as much. Here is a photo my our "control panel" for our kitchen lights.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 1:20PM
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See the link below for covers made to be painted. Others have reported that regular stuff paints quite well.

A google on Columbia Gorge Stoneworks should find a link. They make custom stone covers at something like $50 each.

You can use a digital camera to take a picture of your backsplash, adjust it on the pc, and then slip it into an outlet cover that is clear plastic. These covers are made for wallpaper and are easily available.

There are sites on the net that sell literally thousands of custom decorative covers. Do a google on 'custom switchplates'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Taymac paintable covers

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 1:20PM
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We used Lutron throughout the whole house. Matte color-very many options there and there are no ugly screws. Also the switch itself and the outlet is the same color as the cover plate, it blends in very nicely with colors of the walls...It was expensive, but I think it is well worth it... we checked out the colors Lutron offered, ordered the cover plate (I think it was like $7) put it next to the wall and saw whether or not that particular color would work... I know itÂs a lot of work, but we are kind of crazy about this house :) We ordered our Lutrons at beverlyhillselectric.com they had outlets and switches and covers slightly cheaper than everyone else...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 1:51PM
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Oooh. No screws? I'll have to go shopping. Ours are all Lutron, but there weren't so many options in 2005. Thanks, Iliya1!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 2:02PM
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I didnt try to make mine dissapear, I just used decorative brushed nickel switchplate covers to match the other fixtures and appliances. The backsplash is blue glass and I think it looks great.
Here is a pic of one of the covers vs. plain white. I didnt order enough so I was waiting on them to arrive from HD.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:15PM
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In our previous house, we painted ours to match the walls. Remove them first. We didn't replace the switch plates with expensive ready-to-paint versions. To get the paint to stick to the plate, I roughed them up with sandpaper first. Worked great.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:27PM
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I have to ask --- how do the Lutron plates attach to the wall, without screws?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:45PM
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I couldnÂt find any I liked for our new kitchen backsplash, which is dark green marble with white veins. So I faux-finished to match the backsplash. I was really surprised how easy it was. To get a paintable base I followed instructions I found on one of the forums here. Bought plain plastic switch covers, in dark brown ( the closest I could get to a dark color) . I rubbed them down gently with 400 grit sandpaper until there were no shiny parts left, all matte. Then sprayed with 2 coats of dark green spray paint, the kind that is meant for plastic. I allowed those to dry for 2 days. I took the brown screws and pushed them into a piece of styrofoam covered with aluminum foil so just the heads were sticking out, and sprayed them green at the same time. (Spray paint will make styrofoam sticky which is why you cover it with foil).

Meanwhile, I took a marble sample to the craft store and bought small bottles of acrylic craft paint: I needed maybe 3 colors of green, plus an off-white and black. I used a small piece torn off a sponge and small brushes, and kept the switch covers laying on top of the marble sample, so I wouldnÂt stray from the right colors or patterning. Started with larger color areas and worked down to smaller, doing the white veins last. I tested color mixes by painting right onto the marble too. Painting the 12 switches took maybe an hour and a half. If I hadn't been having fun with it and gotten carried away it could have been done much faster. I let them dry overnight then used 5-6 coats of clear gloss spray varnish so I would be able to wash them.

It all worked so well that I went on to faux-finish the plastic lids of my Crate and Barrel canister set, which I love and which no longer matched this kitchen. I had looked all over for new canisters and hadnÂt liked any so much as my old ones (I had bought 2 sets years ago; glass bottoms so you can see the contents, and simple plastic tops.) So now I have matching ones. Those being more 3-dimensional took more time to base spray and prep, but the final painting took maybe 2 hours: all of that done while watching TV anyway.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:58PM
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Sail-away, the Lutron plates have two pieces. One that screws to the wall and another that snaps on top of that to hide the screws. Looks nice and clean.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 4:34PM
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Thanks for the explanation, Jodi.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 5:49PM
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linnea56 ~ I would love to see pics of your finished switch covers. Do they seem like they will be pretty durable (finish won't easily scratch off?)


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 2:48AM
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Jodi - We're also in Orange County and our kitchen remodel is finished but I do have two outlets that show and was wondering where you found the Lutron and Aspire wallplates.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 4:29AM
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I used Lutron in my home as well and love them. Found them at a lighting store in my town. Below is the Lutron website for store locating.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lutron store locator

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 5:10AM
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We used Columbia Gorge Stoneworks to get wall plates made from out granite. They were great! We used the scrap from the sink cut-outs. Because our stone has a lot of color variation, we marked where we wanted the wall plates cut and we sent them pictures of the stone around the outlets/switches. There was one plate where they weren't able to use the stone we had marked and they found an alternate spot that was a really good match.

They can also make them from your ceramic tile.

Lutron will send you free samples of the colors - get the samples as the colors look a lot different than on line. Ones that looked like they would work on line didn't when we had the samples in person. We used Midnight satin (kind of semi-gloss black).

Arnev.com has a lot of other wall plates including wood in various species that you can order finished or unfinished. We used the cherry for the outlets on our island sides. They also have paintable metal covers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Columbia Gorge Stoneworks

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 11:23AM
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ClaireAnne, Lutron seems to be everywhere but we've only seen Aspire at Lowes.

Here is what the Aspire dimmer looks like. It's the equivilent of the Lutron Diva which is quite popular. I like the looks of the Aspire better.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 11:50AM
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We have solid surface backsplash to match counter tops and had covers made from the solid surface so they just blend in.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 2:11PM
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My backsplash is copper so the switch covers there were a no brainer. For the rest of the house, I glued muslin to the covers & painted to match the walls; some were done about 10 years ago & they still look great. Mine look similar to babka's. I figured that the paint would hold better on muslin than directly on the PVC, but I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 3:14PM
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Thanks for all the help regarding wallplates.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 2:26AM
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Linea - I'd like to see your faux painted wall plates as well! Please post a picture - they sound gorgeous!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 10:56AM
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antiquesilver - do you have any photos of the muslin covers? What kind of glue did you use?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 12:21AM
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