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Switch Plates and Outlet Covers

Switch and cover plates are used to cover open wiring boxes in your walls, but they can also serve a decorative purpose, as evidenced by the wide variety of choices. Here are some points to remember when shopping for new ones:

  • Switch plates and outlet covers are available in a variety of materials: plastic, aluminum, brass, pewter, copper, wood, stainless steel, chrome, and more. Plastic is the least expensive, and if painted, can be quite satisfactory. Other materials can be used to dress up a wall.
  • Most plates can be uncoated, coated, or painted; many basic switch plates are designed to be painted over to match or complement the color of the wall.
  • Switch plates come in two sizes, standard and large, with the large ones helpful for covering up damaged plaster around the opening but should otherwise be avoided.
  • Plates come in a variety of combinations: single switch and multiswitch; single and double outlets; switch/outlet combinations; and cover plates for other types of outlets, such as cable TV, telephone, and computer hook-ups. The individual openings also vary so as to accommodate different switch and outlet shapes and styles, so be sure to check the shape of your outlets first.

Fancy plates are miniature artwork that integrate into the theme of the room. For example, a plate in the shape of a football can be used to complement the sports theme in a child's room.

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