Monday, June 26, 2017

Switch Plates for Tile Backsplashes {with trimmed edge}

Updating your home is a fun way to personalize your living space. Adding a tile backsplash to a wet bar, installing board and batten to your walls, or upgrading your kitchen with marble counter tops are all popular ways to make your living space your own.

One issue that DIY homeowners often run into when doing projects like these, however, is that the newly installed tile or wainscot materials can leave little space for your light switch or outlet cover.

When Your Switch Plate Won't Fit

Here, an existing light switch and outlet were tiled around after granite was added to a wet bar countertop:

We've outline the area that the cover plate takes up around these electrical devices. As you can see, the trim around the tile eats into the space where the outlet cover needs to rest.

Note: There is some wiggle room with switches and outlets. Loosen the screws mounting the device into the electrical box and push as far as you can in the direction you need the devices to shift. Sometimes, that's all it takes to get a cover plate to fit into a tight spot.

In the situation shown here, shifting the devices as far to the right as possible wasn't enough.

But a 2nd solution is very simple - a cover plate with all of the openings shifted in one direction.

The {trimmed} left edge of this narrow plate allows it to fit:

Narrow Switch Plates Fit Tricky Tight Spaces

In some cases, you'll need a cover plate that has a single edge that is "trimmed" or narrower than a standard plate (as shown above). Other times, you may need an outlet cover that is narrow all around.

Find a variety of hard to find narrow cover plates at Kyle Switch Plates - where we specialize in switch plate solutions for DIY homeowners.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Buying the Correct Outlet Cover for Your Receptacle

The cover plate that is most commonly ordered incorrectly is the outlet cover.

The 2 most common types of outlets are:

Duplex outlets have two distinctive features:

  • Two oval plugs
  • Open screw hole in center (for attaching cover plate)

Block / GFCI:
Block outlets (often GFCI with the test/reset buttons in the center) are different from duplex receptacles:

  • Rectangular in shape
  • No center screw hole

You May Have Both

It's not uncommon for a home to have mixed outlets throughout - one room might have duplex outlets, while another room has block style receptacles. We've even seen homes where the two styles are present in a single room.

Save yourself the extra trip to the store (or extra shipping fees) - carefully assess each outlet you are purchasing new covers for. The easiest way to do this is to look for a center screw openings on the outlet itself.

More Outlet Types

The amperage (15A vs 20A) does not effect which type of cover your receptacle requires.

For outlets behind a TV or large piece of furniture, you can get outlets that come with cover plates and are recessed into the wall.

If you have round outlets or large amp ones (30A, 50A or 60A), you'll need another plate entirely.

For electrical outlets installed in floors, cover plates are not sold separately, so you'll need to replace the floor box unit entirely to get a new cover.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Replacing Your NuTone Door Bell Intercom Cover

If your home has an old door bell with a bulky NuTone intercom speaker, you no longer use it, and you don't want to look at it anymore, you're in the right place.

vintage door bell intercom speaker cover up

We received so many calls about covering up old NuTone door bell intercom speakers, Kyle created a custom cover plate as a solution.

Intercom covers are 7.5" x 5.5" with screw holes spaced 4.5" center-to-center. This is a custom measurement created to fit NuTone brand speakers (as shown in image above). They're made in the USA out of .050" thick aluminum, and have been a best seller since we introduced them last Fall.

Buy a blank cover plate for a vintage NuTone intercom here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Choosing Switch Plates for Dimmers by Type

You may have updated one of your light switches to a dimmer switch.

Or, you may already have a dimmer switch, but you need to replace the cover plate.

Either way, finding the right switch plate for a dimmer can be tricky. Use this guide to get the right plate for your switches.

Guide to Dimmer Light Switch Covers:

First, determine which type of dimmer you have:

Here are 4 types of dimmers, and each is shown here.

Identify Which Plate Opening You Need:

Once you have identified your dimmer's shape, you'll see which type of switch plate opening fits your dimmer:

Both toggle and rotary dimmers fit toggle switch plates.

Find the Right Combination Switch Plate:

Often times, a dimmer (or series of dimmers) sits alongside other types of light switches.

If that's the case, you will need to find a combination switch plate (a plate with more than 1 type of switch opening).

Converting a Switch Plate for a Dimmer

Here is an example of a 4-rocker plate that has 1 light switch, 2 rocker dimmers and 1 rotary dimmer:

You can see that the rotary dimmer opening is incorrect. In this case, a new combination switch plate can be purchased (in this case, a 1-toggle 3-rocker plate).

To keep the current plate, another solution is to convert the rocker opening with an insert. The rotary dimmer stem will fit through the small round hole in the center of this insert for a rocker plate opening.

Inserts sit underneath a switchplate to convert the opening. This is often the cheapest solution to fixing a tricky switch plate situation.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Metal Key & Mail Holder Switch Plate Hooks

Whether you live in an apartment, have little wall space, or simply don't want to damage your walls - switch plate hooks are the ideal solution for keeping track of car keys, outgoing mail and work ID badges.

Add a switch plate hook or two to the light switch right by your front door and you'll easily be able find your keys and remember to put your bills in the mailbox.

You can even create a cell-phone charging station by adding your mobile's charger to an outlet and resting your phone on a couple of wall place hooks.

Removable, damage-free mail and key holder hooks.

No drilling, hammering or hardware required.

Hooks are simple to install - just unscrew a bottom screw on your light switch cover, then attach the hook using the switchplate's screw.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stainless Steel vs Nickel Plates - The Difference

Choosing coordinating granite, tile and paint colors is tricky. In fact, much tricker than I thought when I recently updated my builder-grade kitchen. Costly mistakes were made. *Sigh*

Finding the right updated light switches & cover plates is an unexpected part of most remodel projects. And it's something most homeowners only think of as an afterthought.

Getting a perfect match to your marble, tile, wallpaper or paint isn't likely. But there are lots of finishes to choose from, so with a little bit of effort, you can find switches, outlets and covers that blend with your fresh new color palette.

One of the most popular finishes for kitchens is stainless steel. Many customers want to coordinate with stainless steel fridges, ovens and other kitchen appliances.

We always recommend our residential grade stainless steel faceplates for rooms in which you're trying to match appliances with a satin stainless finish.

Stainless switch & outlet covers are neutral, and don't pull toward any particular color like nickel plates do. Here you can see that nickel switchplates have a yellow tone in comparison to stainless steel:

Note that you can't get actual light switches in stainless, but you can use white, gray, black, red or ivory switches with stainless plates.

A customer emailed us this week to share a picture of her white electrical devices with an oversized stainless steel plate on white mosaic tile:

Pretty fabulous, huh?

Shop stainless steel switch plates in every size and get $6.95 flat-rate shipping. And please send us pictures when you have them installed! 

We'd love to see how our plates have improved your living space.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mounting a Screwless Switch Plate - Your Step by Step Guide

My brother is a big of a freak about organization. In his kitchen, the cabinet doors and inlaid with glass, and as a result, all the china inside must be perfectly aligned at all times (this includes the patterns on the plates and bowls).

Another thing he's very particular about is the screws in the switch plates on his walls. All screws must match with the groove positioned horizontally.

Like this:

This, would drive him crazy:

Can you relate?

I have to admit, while I don't go around my house re-positioning my switchplate's screws, if I do remove and remount a plate (say, when painting a room), I also line up all the screws to match.

"Line Up the Switch Plate Screws" is a dangerous game to play, as you don't want to leave a screw too loose, but over tighten one and "snap!" - your plate cracks.

Alleviate all your switch plate woes with screwless covers. They're simple to mount, easy to clean and are a remarkable way to update the look of any room.

Screwless switch plates come with 2 plates - a mounting plate (or sub-plate) and the finishing screwless cover.

Here's How to Mount Your Screwless Lutron Switch Plate:

Step 1: Position the mounting plate on top of the devices in your electrical box.

Step 2: Screw mounting plate into the available screw holes in the devices using provided mounting screws.

Note that the screwless cover plate will snap into the slots in the mounting plate (highlighted in orange in the image below).

Step 3: Align cover plate over mounting plate and push until it fits securely into the mounting plate's slots/grooves.

That's it! Now enjoy your new, modern screwless wall plates.

Note: This guide shows a Lutron brand screwless rocker plate for 2 switches, but most screwless covers are mounted in a similar fashion.

Buy Lutron Screwless Wall Plates at Kyle Switch Plates.