Friday, May 25, 2018

Odd Sized Light Switch Plates & Outlet Cover Solutions

Chances are, you never paid much attention to your switch plates until you started a home renovation project. You may have painted a room, added wainscot, removed wall panelling, added an addition or fully gutted your living space.

One of the last things that go back up are your light switch and outlet covers. And it turns out, often times a standard cover is not what you need.

There are many sizes of wall plates, and I'm going to break them down below. Keep reading to find the right solution for you.

Find Odd Sized Light Switch & Outlet Covers

Standard Cover Plates

First, let's go over a standard size plate.

Standard wall plates are 4.5" high and vary in width based on how many devices they cover.

Single plates for 1 electrical device (known as 1-gang plates) are 2.75" wide and double covers for 2 devices (known as 2-gang plates) are 4-9/16".

1 gang: 4.5" H x 2.75" W

2 gang: 4.5" H x 4-9/16" W


Standard plates are both taller and wider than the electrical devices and the wall box in order to cover everything up (as well as some space around the electrical box for the dry-wall cutout).

Mid-Size

If a little too much drywall was cut out around your electrical box, you may need to step up to a mid-size cover plate. Here are mid-size dimensions:

1 gang: 5-1/16" H x  3-1/4" W

2 gang: 5-1/16" H x 5-1/8" W

The orange area represents a standard plate size. You can see mid-sized covers are slightly larger all the way around.


Tall

Tall cover plates are same width as standard, but are 1/2" taller and have smooth rounded corners. Available only in white.

1 gang tall: 5" H x 2.75" W (same width as standard)

2 gang tall: 5" H x 4-9/16" W (same width as standard)


Tall Wide

Single gang tall plates also come in a wider size, adding an extra quarter inch of coverage to each side.

1 gang tall wide: 5" H x 3.5" W (only available in single-gang)


Get tall + wide covers in a variety of sizes & finishes by going "Oversized"...

Oversized

Often times, if the hole in your sheetrock is too large, you'll need to step up to an oversized plate.

Jumbo or XL plates are available in lots of finishes. By going a little bigger than mid-size, you don't have to buy plain white plastic covers. You can choose from a variety of nice finishes to complete your home upgrade.

1 gang oversized: 5.5" H x 3.5" W

2 gang oversized: 5.5" H x 5.5" W

See how a larger cover fixes this eye sore:



Extra Large

For really big mistakes, Kyle Switch Plates also carries these extra large sizes:

1-gang XL: 6.38" H x 4.5" W  -or-  7.5" H x 5.5W

2-gang XL: 7.5" H x 5.5" W

You can find XL plates grouped among Kyle's other oversized large switch covers.

We also carry large cover plates for old speakers and doorbell intercoms - scroll down to the last section below "Doorbell / Intercom Speaker Covers".

Expanders

If you have a special plate that doesn't come in larger sizes - say for an odd low voltage light switch or a plate in a specialty finish - you can place an expander underneath to extend wall coverage.

Kyle Switch Plates makes a variety of expander sizes for plates up to 5-gang.

1-gang expanders: 6" H x 4" W  -or-  6" H x 6" W

2-gang expanders: 6" H x 6" W


Expanders can also be used to protect the wall around a switch or outlet in a high-traffic area. They can help prevent wear-and-tear on a decorative surface such as wainscot or wallpaper.



Find all expander sizes among oversized wall plates here.

Narrow

Narrow plates come in handy when you lack space around your switches or outlets.

If your switch is super close to cabinetry, wood trim or an adjacent wall, a narrow plate might be just what you need.

Narrow plates come in a variety of widths such as 1.5" W, 1.75" W, 2" W, 2.5" W & 2.5" for single plates.


Narrow plates are also perfect for slim spots such as on a door jamb (as shown here in a hotel room):


Shop all narrow cover plates here to see all sizes.

Offset/Short - with Beveled Edge

In order to still cover the whole electrical box & prevent the device straps from sticking out, short plates are actually the same size as standard plates. What makes them "short" is that the cutouts have been shifted closer to one edge.


Offset or short wall plates are perfect when a standard cover won't fit. This is usually due to wall tile that ends mid-way up the wall with the trim coming too close to the electrical box.



Offset/Short - Flat with No Edge Bevel

If you need a plate that really is shorter than a standard one, you can get short flat plates. The shortest size is 4" H.


It's important to note that 4-inch sized covers will not fully cover the electrical device's straps. And because there's no edge bevel, there may be a gap between the plate and the wall if the electrical box isn't sunken down into the wall.



Shifted Cutouts - Short or Narrow Edge

We refer to our plates with shifted openings as "short", "half short" and "half narrow".


Deep

When a wall box sticks out from the wall, you need deep switch plates to fill in that gap that exists between a standard sized cover and the wall.

A wall box will stick out if you remove tile or wall paneling that the box used to sit flush with.

Or, you may have a gap caused by a bulky electrical device that won't sit back properly in the electrical box.


A standard plate has a 5/32" edge bevel, which is designed to reach back and sit flush with a properly installed electrical box. Deep plates have a bevel twice that size, so they reach back to fix gaps like this.


Deep plates cover boxes that stick out 1/16" of an inch - a very small amount.

Your specific situation may require a plate that fills a larger gap - see all protruding electrical box solutions here.

Large Doorbell / Intercom Speaker Covers

If you plan to remove a Nutone doorbell and intercom speaker, you can cover up the large hole with a blank doorbell cover plate.

We offer a variety of sizes and screw spacing options - both with and without cutouts. These plates have been the perfect solution for customers with NuTone, TekTone, M&S and other brand doorbell systems.

Be sure to measure your box and determine the spacing between the screw holes where the new cover will mount.

These doorbell intercom speaker covers can also be drilled into and used to mount a video doorbell system such as a Ring smart doorbell.

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Shop all sizes and configuration at Kyle Switch Plates.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

How to Fix Gaps Behind Wall Plates

Fix those pesky gaps between switch plate covers and the wall.

It's frustrating to be thisclose to finishing a DIY home renovation project only to pop on your switch plates and discover a gap between them and the wall.

It can happen when your electrical box isn't flush with your wall surface (after removing old paneling or tile) or when a bulky electrical device won't sit all the way back in the box (like when upgrading from a duplex receptacle to a GFCI outlet).

See two examples here:


Yikes!

Finding the best solution depends on 2 things:

  1. SIZE of the gap behind your cover
  2. TYPE of cover (based on where the screw holes are positioned)
#1 - Measure Gap
Use a ruler to determine the size of the gap. This is easiest with a cover installed. But, you can also measure the distance from the wall to the top of the device's mounting screw.





#2 - Determine Type of Cover
Toggle switch covers, duplex outlet covers, rocker plates and blank plates mount in different spots. This will affect which solution is right for your particular situation.

Solutions below are broken up by these types of covers:
  1. strap mount - for rocker shaped devices
  2. device mount OR center mount - toggle and duplex have same solutions
  3. box mount - for empty boxes

Best Solutions for Gaps Behind Wall Plates:


Plates with "strap mount" screw spacing have screws spaced 3-13/16" apart.

Strap mount devices include:

  • Decora rocker switches
  • Rocker dimmers
  • Block outlets
  • GFCI outlets
  • Rocker-shaped inserts (like the cable jack shown far right above)

1/16"

For very small gaps, you'll need to combine a couple items to get the perfect fit:


Since deep plates cover larger gaps than 1/16", you can use the spacer underneath your device to lift it up. This will create a 1/8" gap between your standard cover and the wall, which is the perfect fit for the deep cover.

1/8"

You have two options for 1/8" gaps:



1/4"

The three options for filling up .25" behind your cover plate are:


3/8"

Fill this gap with:



1/2"

For really large gaps:



For devices with screw holes in either of the above 2 positions (device mount like the toggle and round outlet or center mount like a duplex plug or horizontal toggle switch), see solutions below.

Plates with "device mount" screw spacing have screws spaced 2-3/8" apart.


1/16"

Deep plates are the solution for a 1/6" gap. Shop:


1/8"
With standard size covers, you can add 1/8" gap filler rings underneath to fix the problem.

Get sizes for 1-gang up to 5-gang covers:


3/16"

1/4"

Spaces of .75" can be filled 1 of 2 ways:

5/16"



"Box mount" screw holes will be 3-9/32" apart.

1/16"

If your electrical box is sticking out of the wall by only 1/16", a standard blank cover won't have a gap behind it.

1/8"

If the box is sticking out of the wall by 1/8", a standard cover for empty boxes should still be fine.

1/4"

Fix this gap with a deep blank cover.

1/2"

The best solution for a half-inch gap is an extra deep blank electrical box cover.

DIY Solutions for Homeowners

As shown above, there are a variety of options for fixing light switches & electrical outlets that stick out.

Shop all deep covers to find the solution for you.

Just remember that sometimes a single plate will fix the issue, but other times you may have to stack 1 or more items to get the perfect depth filled.



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Covers for Side-by-Side Electrical Wall Boxes

Most of the time, electrical wall boxes are are spaced out, even if located near each other on the same wall.

For example, in this bathroom, there are three separate electrical boxes, with plenty of room between them:



ADJACENT ELECTRICAL BOX PROBLEMS:

If you have 2 single-gang boxes that were installed side by side, right up against each other, you'll find a hard time finding a cover plate.

See here how a standard double rocker plate is misaligned with the switches in this situation:



ADJUSTING ELECTRICAL DEVICES:

You can attempt to align your switches to match your cover by loosening the device screws and pushing them in the direction you need them to go.

The spot where your device screws into your box allows for the device to be shifted side to side, as well as slightly up and down.


Be sure to turn off power to any devices you plan to tamper with, prior to adjusting them.



SPECIALTY COVERS FOR SIDE-BY-SIDE WALL BOXES:

If you find that moving your devices closer together still doesn't get them to fit into a standard plate, you can get a wide spaced double rocker cover.


These plates are specialty made to fix the problem of electrical boxes that have been installed too close together.

Since your particular situation may be unique, you'll most likely still need to adjust the positioning of the devices to get them to properly align with the wider spaced cover, as shown in the section above.

SOLUTIONS FOR OTHER DEVICES:

If you have devices other than rocker size (such as a duplex outlet or toggle light switch), you can either:
  • update the devices
  • use inserts to convert the openings
Updating Your Devices:

Here are some examples of ways to update your switches and outlets to fit rocker openings:



You can shop for updated electrical devices here or head to your local hardware store to find replacements.

It's a simple task many homeowners can do themselves with a simple google search for directions. If you feel uncomfortable messing with electrical wiring, hire an electrician.

Using Inserts for Non-Rocker Devices:

Rocker openings in any switch plate can be converted to fit other devices.

For example, here we show how a toggle insert converts a rocker (or "Decora") opening to fit a toggle light switch instead:



COVERS FOR TRICKY SWITCHES & OUTLETS:

Depending on your situation, you may find that narrow switch plates or short switch covers are the perfect solution.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Simple Solutions for Replacing an Unusual Light Switch Cover

If you need to replace an old wall plate and you're having difficulty finding one that's the right configuration, there are a few simple ways to solve your problem.

First, check out our wide selection of combination cover plates to see if we carry the one you need. (Keep in mind, plates can be rotated to reverse the order of the openings.)



Solution #1: Update Your Electrical Devices

The more devices you have that share a plate, the trickier it can be to find a cover. Especially if the devices all require different shaped cutouts.

This cover that has an outlet in between two rocker devices, is a rare plate that is only available in a singe finish.


Updating the duplex style outlet to a rectangular receptacle will result in all 3 devices using the same size cutout. If the center device is a horizontal toggle switch, you can update to a stacked rocker switch and get the same result.



Simply swapping out the center device (as shown above) results in the need for a triple rocker plate - a very common size available in many finishes.


Often times, updating 1 or more of your devices is the easiest solution when you can't find the cover plate you need.

Solution #2: Re-Arrange Your Electrical Devices

You can also change the position of your devices. This doesn't require any re-wiring and is super simple to do. All you need is a screwdriver.


Moving the duplex outlet from the center position to one side results in a more common configuration that will be easier to find and is available in more finishes.

If you're having trouble finding the right cover and you don't want to put in new devices, re-arranging the ones you have can be a great solution.

Shop combo plates to see if this solution will work for you.

Solution #3: Use Inserts to Build a Custom Configuration

Inserts fit into rocker openings and allow you to keep your devices the same.

Use inserts to convert a rocker opening to cover a toggle switch (shown below), a duplex outlet, cable or phone jacks, data ports or even to fill in as a "blank" if there's no device.


Shop conversion inserts & learn more about this solution at Kyle Switch Plates.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Outlet Covers with Offset Openings for Tight Spaces

Problem: There's not enough room for an outlet cover.

Causes: Board and batten, wainscoting, tile, cabinetry, paneling, granite countertop, backsplash, trim, door jamb, mirror, etc.

Solution: Narrow cover plates for electrical receptacles.

When updating your living space, you may run into this common problem:
outlet cover won't go back on due to lack of space around the electrical box.

Here's a prime example:

This backsplash has a bullnose tile trim, which is blocking the cover from going back on the switch and outlet.


A cover that used to fit just fine, no longer works after this wet bar's renovation.

Narrow switch plates are the perfect solution. Depending on your needs, Kyle Switch Plates carries 2 types of narrow covers:

  • "narrow" covers that aren't as wide overall as standard ones
  • "half narrow" covers with offset openings (cutouts closer to one side of plate to allow room for obstructions on one edge)


Shop all narrow covers here.

In the tile example shown above, a half narrow switch & outlet cover is all the homeowner needed (same overall plate size, but with offset or shifted openings for the devices).


Here's another example in which there's not enough clearance for an outlet cover. The board and batten accent wall shown below has a batten beam that's partially obstructing one edge of the electrical box.*

The homeowner chose a narrow outlet cover for the single duplex outlet.
But a half narrow duplex plate would have worked also.


*Obstructing an electrical box may be a code violation - be sure to heck your local electrical codes.

Find the right narrow cover plate here.

Need covers with less trim on top or bottom edge instead?

Shop short wall plates to find the solution if materials are blocking the top or bottom edge of your device cover.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Keep Switches Straight with Wall Plate Labels

I have lived in my house for 8 years. So you'd think I'd have the switches down by now. As embarrassing as it is to admit, there are a couple light switches that still trip me up.

If you have any wall plates with multiple switches in your home, chances are, there are times you hit the wrong one.

Take the guesswork out of turning on the lights with professionally engraved light switch labels.

Labeling your light switches makes it easier for you to hit the right one (on the first try), and it makes it easier for house guests, too.

At Kyle Switch Plates, we sell two types of labels for switch plates:

  • adhesive ones that can be customized
  • sets of tags that go under the screw

Both types can be positioned above our below a switch, dimmer or outlet.



Custom Adhesive Labels for Light Switches

Engraved metal tags are available in silver or gold, and can be customized to say whatever you'd like. The short switch labels can have up to 22 characters, and the long light switch tags can fit 26 characters.

They come with a strong adhesive on the back - simply peel off the lining and stick right to your plastic or metal cover plate.

Pre-Made ID Labels for Wall Plates

The pre-made label sets come with a variety of words to identify your switches. Some examples are porch, kitchen, fan, patio, den, deck, chandelier.

Our label sets come in silver, brass, copper and gold.

NEW: Light, Vent & Heat Labels

NuTone light, heat and vent switches in a bathroom can also now be labeled with attractive tags in silver, gold or brass.

Perfect for home renovations in which you'd like to update or replace old despard style light, vent and heat switches or covers.

Learn more about replacing NuTone light vent and heat switches & covers here.

Shop Quality Metal Wall Plates Made in the USA.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Replacing a Nu-Tone Light Vent & Heat Switch Cover

If your bathroom has Nu-Tone switches for controlling the light, vent and heat, you may have trouble finding replacement covers when you renovate the room.

The first thing you need to know is that the shape of the light, vent and heat control switches are one type of "despard" switch.

Find links to replacement parts below:

Nu-Tone Switches

To replace these old Nu-Tone switches, you need to get Pass & Seymour 15A ACD1 switches (which comes in white, ivory and brown).


Mounting Straps

Since these switches are mounted in metal straps, if you don't have the old hardware, you'll need a new despard switch mounting strap to install the replacement ACD1 light, vent and heat switches.


Despard Switch Cover Plates

The correct replacement cover is this 3 Despard Switch Cover Plate (available in over 10 finishes).

Light, Vent, Heat Switch Labels

The new covers don't have "LIGHT", "VENT", and "HEAT" imprinted on them.

But you can order separate Nu-Tone switch labels that can be affixed to the side of the switches. They come with a strong adhesive so they can easily be added to one side of your new cover.


Don't neglect your old switches and covers when updating a bathroom. You'll love the fresh look.