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Image for article titled How to Paint Your Boring, White Plastic Outlet Covers

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Picture an electrical outlet cover or a light switch plate: What color is it? If you’re thinking of one that’s plastic and either white or off-white (either by design, or because of layers of grime), you’re not alone.

For some reason, they tend to be a home decor afterthought. We’ll take the time to pick out the perfect paint color, put painter’s tape around the outlet, and carefully paint a room, and yet, these white plastic rectangles and squares remain. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Sure, you could go out and buy new, nicer outlet covers and light switch plates, but instead of spending money and taking the time to pick something out, you could also paint those ugly white ones to match the rest of the room. Here’s what to know.

How to paint plastic outlet covers

First, the bad news: You do need to remove plastic outlet covers and light switch plates before painting them. It’s annoying, but really, it only usually involves removing two screws. Once they’re off the wall, here’s what to do next:

  1. Clean the outlet covers with a mixture of warm water and either TSP or Dirtex. (If you don’t have either on hand, warm water and dish soap will work.)
  1. Dip an abrasive sponge in the solution and use it to scrub the outlet cover, which both cleans it and starts the scuffing process.
  2. Dry the outlet cover, then use 220-grit sandpaper to finish scuffing it.
  3. In a well-ventilated area, apply a coat of spray primer. Let it dry according to the primer’s instructions.
  4. Apply a thin base coat of paint. If the goal is to match the paint job on your walls, use the same technique (i.e. brushing, rolling, or spraying) on the outlet covers. Let the paint dry completely.
  5. Hold the painted outlet cover up to the wall you’re trying to match. If the color isn’t dark or saturated enough, apply another thin coat of paint. Let it dry completely, then reassess to see whether a third thin coat is needed.
  6. Don’t forget to paint the screws.
  7. Seal the painted outlet covers and screws with a clear, durable protective finish, like liquid varnish. Let it dry completely.

Be gentle with the screwdriver when you attach your newly painted outlet cover or light switch plate to the wall, so as not to scratch your handiwork.



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