3 Crafty Ways to Decorate Light Switches

3 Crafty Ways to Decorate Light Switches

Learn how to decorate switch plates and outlet covers with simple supplies.



By: Debra Steilen 

1. Washi Tape Switcheroo
Jazz up plain switches with color and pattern by covering them with semi-transparent washi tape.

Materials
Switch plate
Flat-head screwdriver
Rubbing alcohol
Cotton ball
Washi tape in 2 or more desired patterns
Scissors
Cutting surface
Crafts knife (optional)
Paper plate or newspaper (optional)
Decoupage medium, satin finish
Small foam brush
Cotton swab

Instructions

  1. If you're starting with an existing switch plate, use a screwdriver to remove it from the wall. Retain the screws
  2. Using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol, clean the front and back of the switch plate (whether it’s new or used) to remove fingerprints and grime
  3. Determine the direction you want the washi tape to run on the switch plate. (Instructions remain essentially the same whether the washi tape is attached horizontally, vertically or diagonally.) For a diagonal pattern, place a strip of washi tape at an angle across one of the top corners of the switch plate. Run your finger across the tape to remove air bubbles and make sure the tape is firmly attached
  4. Pick a different pattern of washi tape and place a strip of it next to the first strip, overlapping edges slightly. As before, run your finger across the tape to make sure it’s firmly attached. Repeat process, changing tape patterns as desired, until the switch plate is completely covered with washi tape
  5. Turn the switch plate over. Using scissors, trim the excess tape – leaving a 3/8-inch margin past the edge of the switch plate. Fold the excess tape to the inside of the switch plate, rubbing your finger across the folded tape to make sure it’s firmly attached
  6. Place the switch plate on a cutting surface, top side down. Using the craft knife, cut an “X” into the tape that shows through the switch plate’s rectangular hole. Fold the resulting triangles of tape over the edges of the rectangular opening. Run your finger across the tape to make sure it’s firmly attached
  7. Using the tip of the craft knife, pierce the tape covering the screw holes. Flip the switch plate over so the front side faces up and insert the screws to press any excess tape toward the back of the cover. Remove the screws
  8. Place the switch plate, front side up, on the paper plate. Using the foam brush, carefully apply a light coat of decoupage medium to the front of the plate. For best results, move the brush in the same direction as the applied tape. Use a cotton swab to clean excess decoupage medium from the screw holes. Let the switch plate dry completely before reinstalling it

Tip: Use a 4-by-6-inch piece of decorative paper in the pattern you desire (scrapbook paper or an old map works well) in place of the washi tape for a fun alternative!

2. Pretty Painted Outlet Cover
Pick paint when you want an outlet cover to blend in with the walls – or make a statement by standing out.

Materials
Switch plate (used or new)
Flat-head screwdriver
Rubbing alcohol
Cotton ball
Waxed paper
Small piece of corrugated cardboard
Two small foam brushes
Spray primer
Latex wall paint or spray paint in the color you desire
Cotton swabs (optional)
Clear water-based polyurethane
3-inch-wide painter’s masking tape (optional)

Instructions

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  1. If starting with an existing switch plate, use a screwdriver to remove it from the wall. Retain the screws
  2. Using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol, clean the front and back of the switch plate (whether it’s new or used) to remove fingerprints and grime
  3. Place the outlet cover on a piece of waxed paper in a well-ventilated area. Push the screws into a small piece of corrugated cardboard to keep them standing straight for painting, and to protect the threads from being covered with wet paint. Spray outlet cover and screws with a thin coat of primer. Use cotton swabs to remove excess primer from the screw holes. Let dry completely*
  4. When the outlet cover is thoroughly dry, seal the painted surface by brushing on a thin coat of polyurethane. Use cotton swabs to remove excess polyurethane from the screw holes. Let dry before reinstalling the outlet cover using the painted screws

*Tip: If working with latex paint, use a small foam brush to cover the front of the outlet cover and the tops of the two screws with paint. Use cotton swabs to remove excess paint from the screw holes. Add a second coat of paint if needed. Let dry between coats

*Tip: If working with spray paint, spray a thin layer of paint on the front of the outlet cover and the tops of the two screws. Add a second coat of spray paint if needed. Let dry between coats.

3. Nailed It! Polished Switch Plates
Give an old switch plate a stylish makeover using your favorite shade of nail polish.

Materials
Switch plate (used or new)
Flat-head screwdriver
Rubbing alcohol
Cotton balls
Small piece of corrugated cardboard
Paper towels
Clear base coat nail polish
Cotton swabs
Nail polish, high gloss or matte finish, in the color you desire (Note: You may need multiple bottles of nail polish if you’re painting multiple switch plates.)
1-inch-wide foam brushes

Instructions

  1. If starting with an existing switch plate, use a screwdriver to remove it from the wall. Retain the screws
  2. Using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol, clean the front and back of the switch plate (whether it’s new or used) to remove fingerprints and grime
  3. Place the switch plate face up on the paper towel. Using a foam brush or the brush that comes with the bottle, prime the surface of the switch plate (including the sides) with a thin coat of the base coat nail polish. Prime the tops of the screws with a thin coat of the base coat nail polish. Let dry
  4. Using the foam brush or the brush that comes with the desired color of fingernail polish, paint the surface of the switch plate (including the sides) as well as the tops of the screws. Brush on 3 or 4 more thin coats of polish for complete coverage, letting dry between coats
  5. After the fingernail polish is thoroughly dry, reinstall the switch plate using the painted screws



Debra is a Midwest-based expert on crafting, home design (especially kitchens, baths, and storage), and holidays. She spends her free time renovating and decorating her 1909 Craftsman home – and wrangling her two Golden Retrievers.

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IMPORTANT SAFETY REQUIREMENT: If switch plate is made of METAL, do NOT COVER WHERE UNDERSIDE OF HEADS OF MOUNTING SCREWS CONTACT. To avoid risk of shock, it is essential to ground the METAL switch plates in case a wire inside the box later comes loose and contacts the backside of the switch plate or switch mounting bracket. Reference: National Electrical Code® 404.9(B). For plastic-only or ceramic-only switch plates, not required as they do not conduct electricity.

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I have moaning loudly about the lack of decorative switch plates. These are wonderful ideas. I think that I would spray a clear coat of spray paint on when finished, either gloss or matte. What is washi tape and where do you get it?

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My large kitchen is wallpapered. I applied a piece of wallpaper to my switch plates matching the pattern so that there was no switch visible to the eye. This was very aesthetic looking with the plates high over the fireplace mantle. I did that almost twenty years ago and the paper never came loose,

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ElicBxn

ElicBxn

Reported

Ittybitty - You have a couple of options. One, if you have a handy person around to replace the switch, you can get a new one, in white instead of ivory if that suits your taste better. Another option, though not as good, is to paint it as well. This would not work with the washi tape as well as with the paint/nail polish methods unless you paint the switch a color that goes with the tape.

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coris

coris

Reported

I did this over 10 yrs ago, but I cut out flower pictures from a book for ordering bulbs. I still have them on my switches.

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