Painting switch plates etc.

yarrowmeOctober 29, 2008

We just painted our master bedroom and office. We went from light tones to dark colors. My sister said I should paint the wall switch plate colors and the louvered floor and wall registers with the wall paint. The wall outlet covers are off-white plastic and the registers are white metal, approx. 16 yr. old, standard contractor installed.

I agree that they kinda "pop" out against the dark wall paint but I can't imagine painting them. Do people really paint them?

If so, are there any tricks I need to know to make the sure the paint adheres.

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The other night, I too wondered if those basic plastic covers could be painted. Guess you can paint them, and you don't have to buy special ones to do it. Metal, sure it can be painted, not even anything special about doing those, except take them down first.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to paint switchplate covers

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I mostly paint the ones that are against dark paint. Once you decide to paint you have to continue to paint or buy new ones. So if you are certain that you will always have dark paint then go ahead. When the roller is so dry that no more paint will come off on the wall you are painting, then carefully and lightly roll over the switch or socket. I have the flat switches so it is easy. Just roll once. There will be barely any paint on the switch or socket but there will be enough to see the wall colour. Stop, let completely dry. The next day do the same thing again. Continue to let dry. I usually do three coats on the wall so I always have paint in the tray ready to go. One coat each day as well as the switch or socket. It is like nailpolish, if you don't let the first coat completely dry the second coat will never be right. Then if you want you can carefully brush on a glaze to protect them. I don't use the glaze because I paint almost every two years. But if there comes a time when it turns out that I don't paint quite as often, I will then use glaze. I know this works because the time before this time I painted the bathroom I glazed the walls with pearlescence and glaze and I did the same to the switches and socket.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 12:50PM
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I would NOT paint them the wall color. If you do that you have to re-paint them every time you paint the walls and eventually they will be THICK with paint and look gloppy. You won't actually really hide them by painting them either. It will look like the painter was too lazy to remove them.

I would spray paint them a neutral dark color so that they don't "pop". I painted mine a flat gray since that is neutral and my walls are dark.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 12:55PM
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I always paint my switch covers the trim color and outlet covers the wall color. You can buy inexpensive paintable covers at Home Depot or Lowes. They are cream colored metal, but are very slightly textured so the paint will adhere well.

Take them off the wall first! When we moved into our current house, the outlets were so coated with paint it was hard to get a plug in, and DH had to replace them all. It only takes a minute with a screwdriver to get them off. Lay them flat on a piece of waxed paper and paint with a small roller (two or three light coats, drying in between). Simple!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 1:19PM
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I have always painted mine the wall color.... whether the walls are light or dark.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 1:35PM
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I always get either the paintable ones or the clear ones that can have paper underneath (I usually coat those with something that makes them less shiny but still washable.)And of course, you take them off the wall first! Don't paint over them--it never looks right. I always paint the wall color. When I'm very old and can't see, I'll regret it, I'm sure.

I know this is a tiny detail, but the bright white plastic ones just draw the eye and spoil all the hard work of decorating and arranging.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 2:34PM
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I always paint mine also. I hate the look of the white rectangles against the wall! Besides, they are cheap enough that you can always buy new ones if they get heavy with paint.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Thanks for all the input....very helpful. I think I will buy the paintable ones and paint them the wall color. I just can't picture painting these 16 yr. old plastic ones. Yep, they are cheap so when it comes time to paint again I will replace them. Thanks Mistybear for the tips on how to actually paint them and rob333 for the link. I guess I was just surprised that I was suppose to paint Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 7:53PM
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Even if I have to buy new switch plates because the old ones have been painted too many times, I always match them to my paint color.

I suppose I'm ticky because it bugs me that the receptacle centers and the switch part of the light switch can't be painted to match as well.

If I wallpaper, I get the clear kind so that I can do a match to the paper. For the kids rooms, I make copies of pictures or photographs and use them inside rather than wallpaper.

For that matter you could do the same thing with paint. Paint some thin card stock with your paint color each time you re-paint the room and just change out the inserts. Here's some instructions and a supply list if anybody wants to make some for a child.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kids Decorative Light Switch Plates

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 7:55PM
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You may want to buy spray primer for the registers before you paint them. They will be easier to paint.

I have used the paintable ones. They work great.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 9:48PM
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Posted by gogal:"I suppose I'm ticky because it bugs me that the receptacle centers and the switch part of the light switch can't be painted to match as well."

They can be painted. At least painted to they aren't glowing white. When you paint the walls you are going to have the plates off anyway so just spritz a thin coat of spray paint on them. Repeat. Repeat again.

It won't be an exact color match if that is what you want, but you can make them less noticable by spray paintng them darker.

If an outlet gets a lot of use, not just sitting there with something plugged in all the time, and you worry about the paint wearing away, replace them with the builders grade brown, gray or black ones, cheaply. It EASY to do.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brown, Gray, Black............

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 1:42AM
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Actually, you can paint the receptacle part, and the switch if you use a small brush. I used just a small brush like you get with kids watercolors. I changed out my receptacles to black in my kitchen, but couldn't find one which was receptacle/switch so just painted it with black paint. I usually use craft paint for that.

Lutron, I think, makes a whole line of designer colored switches and covers for those who don't want to paint.

Painting the registers are a bit trickier. Spray paint works best if you can find it in your color. Flat paint doesn't look as good, and catches dust like crazy. I had to strip a big one in my hall, very old house, very big air return, and then I spray painted it. It would look better if it were the wall color, but brushing or rolling it on those louvers is a pain. My ceiling ones are white, and I either spray paint, or replace when they begin to look ugly and don't clean off well. They're not that expensive either.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 5:52AM
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