Questions regarding light swithes and outlet plugs!

61tinkerbellMay 10, 2011

We are updating the electric in the house, and will be replacing the old, tired, yellowed outlets and wall switches. The toggle on/off switches are just "chunky" in style, but I like them!

I don't imaging that there is any place to buy reproduction and that most people just regular switches?

What do you think the best color is to go with, white or off white?

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lesterd has push botton switches at the lowest price around. has the exact same product (same manufacturer) but at higher prices. They also have switchplates.

You can also get them in dimmer switches.

You can get both bakelite and metal switchplates at many sources, another of which is:

We've purchased new toggle switches when we've eliminated wrong color switches throughout our house. All of our switches and plugs are brown and the switchplates are oil rubbed bronze (except the bathroom which has ivory switches and chrome switchplates). All our paint colors are darker, earthy colors.

I'd go with the color that best suits your room decor.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 8:17AM
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lesterd, what about the toggle itself..? I did find all the covers, but I was wondering about the part the electric attaches to.

The house was built in 1937, do you think the push buttons were also used in that time, or should I stick with the toggles?

Color, I'm thinking off white.. white may be too stark for the home of this age?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 8:25AM
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Tinker, it's possible your house could have had toggle switches (the change began about 1940), but the push-buttons were the most popular until after the war. New electrical wiring methods meant that a simpler switch design was needed, and the industry chose the toggle rather than push-button--why is anyone's guess.

Classic Accents was the first to start making new push-buttons in the 70s, and they look and sound just like the old ones--finding a source for old-style toggles is going to be hard--you will have to haunt yard sales and salvage/antique shops for them.

Why are you only painting in shades of white/cream? Your house seems to have lots of light, and could easily handle more color. Personally, I love the look of antique brass switchplates, and they go with any color.

By the way, replacing the wiring doesn't mean you have to replace the switches themselves...the plugs would be a good idea, but the switches you can reuse.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 1:24AM
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Thanks Columbusguy.

I didn't mean I'm painting the house (rooms) white or off white, I was referring to replacing the switches & outlets in those colors.. thinking that white would look to stark/new for the old house.

I have checked out Classic Accents, great site!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 4:54AM
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I don't think I have ever seen the old-style chunky toggles on the market. The slimmer ones are all they made since I've been around, and I'm almost 50. But I do know the type you refer to. They were mechanical switches; most (but not all) today are mercury switches. They had a click when they moved; the mercury switches are silent and most prefer that.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 9:07AM
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Many places to buy old-style light switches. Just google "restoration hardware" and you'll find everything you'll need.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 9:56AM
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I've only seen the slimmer toggles as well. I thought the beginning of the transition from push button to toggles happened in the early 30s, but I could be wrong.

At all costs, I would avoid plain, stark white.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:24AM
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My neighbors have one of the old toggle style switches. That one switch, while very cool looking is really loud to turn on.

I agree, try to go with metal colored switches and covers. I think white screams modern, and while I have a lot of them in my home (upper level where they are out of sight), the ones in the 'classier' looking rooms are the metal that matches the light fixtures metal, and they look really sharp and period appropriate.

If you are interested in the old toggles, try calling some of the local or not so local reproduction hardware buyers out there. I think there's one in every major city with old houses! They tend to be very knowledgeable about what was period and many have what you are looking for stashed in a drawer somewhere! Here's the link to the one in my neighborhood....

Here is a link that might be useful: Hippo Hardware

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 12:23PM
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Check the antique section of Ebay. I stumbled on an ebay store that had a lot of unused old stock switches. Mainly old rotary switches but some old toggle styles as well


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:57PM
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The old chunky light switches are still on the market. I had some installed a couple of years ago. The classic color is dark brown and they required a special order at the electrical supply but it was no problem and no upcharge. White was stocked. The wall plates are available everywhere.

As far as outlets, I did the old style roundish duplex receptacles as well in dark brown.

My house was built with gas light and then had pushbutton switches installed with the first electric installation. When I rewired, I reused the pushbuttons that I had. For the added switches/receptacles (and there were a lot added) I like the way the chunky toggles and receptacles blend.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:29PM
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Oldhousegal, we visited Portland last year where we found out about Hippo Hardware. Loved it! We also went to Rejuvenation.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:35PM
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Yes they are great places! I feel very fortunate to have such great resources so close to home- it sure makes it easy to keep the old house authentic!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:31PM
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