Friday, October 21, 2016

What To Do When a Switch Plate [Or Outlet Cover] Won't Fit

DIY projects often come with some unforeseen hiccups and surprises along the way.

My husband and I have done a number of projects that involved working around outlets and light switches and even though I know the importance of planning ahead and leaving plenty of space for the covers, even I've run into the predicament of ending up without enough space to fit the cover.


Good news is, there is a solution and it's so simple!

Our outlet cover mishap was the result of a board and batten project that went under a redesign mid-project.

A more common reason a switch plate cover doesn't fit is when you've added tile to enhance a wall in your home.

Here are 2 examples - 1 was avoidable and the other was not:

In this bathroom remodel project, an inexperienced DIYer brought the height of the tile too high, leaving no room for the cover plate - probably a result of a last minute decision to add the row of tiny brown accent tiles in between the tile & the finishing trim:

In this home bar project, the bullnose edge for the tile backsplash was thick enough that the cover no longer fit:

Kyle Switch Plates makes both short switch plates & narrow switch plates that will still cover your entire electrical box opening, but fit these tricky situations. The difference is that the openings in the plates are shifted to allow extra room on 1 edge of the plate.

For the bathroom tile incident, a 2-rocker half short plate is the perfect fix. The plate is trimmed, or short, on the bottom. It can be rotated upside down to be short on the top as well.

The home bar project was also fixed with a double rocker plate, however, instead of being trimmed on the bottom, this plate is narrow on one side. Adding a half narrow double rocker plate only required the homeowner to swap out their toggle switch for a rocker switch.

An alternative to changing the switch from toggle to rocker would be to convert the left plate opening to a toggle with a toggle converter for rocker switch plates.

If you find yourself in a similar situation leave us a comment! We'd love to hear how our half short or half narrow switch plates saved your DIY project mistake!

Monday, October 17, 2016

What To Do When A Device Won't Fit In An Electrical Box

If you've ever tried to update or replace a light switch or outlet, only to find that your new device is bulkier and won't fit into your shallow electrical box, this post is for you.

The most common instance for this predicament is when you attempt to replace an old duplex outlet with a GFCI outlet. New GFCI receptacles are much thicker than duplex style outlets, as you can see in this comparison:

If your box isn't deep enough, you won't be able to fit the GFCI into the box.

You may also discover you have a shallow electrical box when adding other devices such as fan controls or programmable timer switches.

Box extenders expand your electrical box by 3/4", making it deep enough to accommodate bulkier devices. The perfect fix for any switch that is too deep to put in your wall.

These handy box extenders sit under your device. Simple place the device on top of the extender, then screw both into your electrical box at the same time using the included extra long screws.

Once it's in place, simply cover with your switch plate as you normally would.

Note, this is an external extender for the electrical box that's inside your wall - it will raise your device & switch plate off the wall 3/4" & will be visible. Choose white, ivory or brown.

Buy shallow box extenders here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Get Your Outlet or Switch to Sit Flush with Wall

When your home is built, the outlets and switches are all installed flush with the drywall. But if you add decorative elements to your walls - a tile backsplash in a kitchen or wainscoting in your entry way - you'll find that your electrical box ends up recessed, making it difficult to put the switch plate cover back on.

There are 2 ways to fix a recessed electrical plug - with spacers or a goof ring.

Raise an Outlet with Spacers

Spacers are really easy to use. They come in a strand and can be folded over to reach your desired height (in increments of 1/8"). Simply fold the strand to the thickness you need and cut off the excess.

Buy electrical device spacers here.

Keep in mind you may need a longer screw if you raise your outlet more than 3/8 of an inch.

Raise an Outlet with a Goof Ring

If you need to lift your plug up from your electrical box, but 1/8" increments won't fix your situation, get a goof ring.

Goof rings slide into your electrical box and the tabs rest on your new surface - for instance, a black granite backsplash. Then, your receptacle can be installed over it to sit flush with your wall, tile or wainscoting.

They are also made for 2 devices here.

Whether wall tile, paneling, board & batten, beadboard, granite, corrugated metal or shiplap is creating a problem, you can easily fix it using one of these 2 safe solutions for recessed plugs and light switches.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Specialty Light Switch Finishes Give High-End Look

Often when you put the money into high-end switch plates, you want light switches & outlets that match.

Until recently, fancy switchplates (like Venetian bronze and antique brass) had to be paired with plainer switches (like brown and ivory).

But now, electrical switches & receptacles are being offered with a new designer look in 3 stunning finishes:

Dark Bronze:

Lighter than brown with a warm red tone, newly manufactured dark bronze electrical switches add elegance to these already magnificent bronze wall plates:

Antique Brass:

New antique brass switches & outlets are a beautiful deep gold which looks fabulous with a variety of covers, including antique brass shown here:

Nickel Silver:

If you're into the gray wall trend mixed with dark brown wood floors that's recently taken homes by storm, you might have elegant walls stenciled with metallic silver paint mixed with a matte gray.

If so, you'll love these new nickel light switches with dark bronze covers:

Monday, April 18, 2016

3 Best Graduation Gifts for Electrical Engineers

Not sure what to get them when the graduate this May? Here are 3 distinctive gift ideas for electrical engineering students.

1. Creative Cash Bulb

After shelling out 4 years of tuition, most college students feel pretty broke. That's why the gift of money is not only a popular choice, but an appreciated one come graduation day.

Instead of handing over a card with a hundred dollar bill or check inside, get creative! We are loving this crafty idea from Lexie Sachs at Good Housekeeping:

Money tucked inside a light bulb jar is a creative way to gift graduation cash to an electrical engineer. The gift tag that reads "Here's to your bright future!" is the perfect finishing touch.

Find more creative gifts with light bulbs for electricians

2. Professional Business Card Case

Help your son or daughter network once they land their first job out of college with a light bulb business card holder or card case for electrical engineers. Tucking some graduation cash inside will ensure it's extra appreciated!

 light bulb electrician business card holder grad gift

 card case for electrical engineers

These unique networking card holders for electricians can be engraved with their name and grad year and are crafted just for you with custom colors. Add their school colors or just choose a favorite hue.

3. Engraved Tape Measure

Another useful gift for an electrical engineering graduate is a personalized tape measure. These cool pocket sized measuring tapes are Zippo brand and come embellished with an electrical circuit design:

 engraved electrical engineering tape measure

The best graduation gifts for electrical engineers are ones that incorporate an electricity theme. That's why we're sure a light bulb full of cash, networking card case or travel tape measure will be a big hit at your son, nephew or grandson's grad party.

See more electrical themed gifts here.

Have other creative ideas? We'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Basketball Switch Plates for Man Caves & Sports Fans

I can't sit down in a bar or restaurant without first analyzing which seat has the best view of the TV screen. Then I choose the opposite side. That's because my husband is well on his way to winning his office March Madness basketball bracket and every game matters so much.

It's fun when you're passionate about something, isn't it? It's even more fun when you can work that passion into your home decor.

My husband is one of those guys who has a man cave. I personally thought the spare bedroom would be more useful as a guest room should we ever have visitors. But, he really wanted that man cave and insisted I keep my decorating touch OUT of it. (Ha!)

He was definitely surprised when I agreed black walls would look great and even helped him paint it. I think he was even more surprised when he liked some of my suggestions for the room. (Like I said before about keeping out - ha!)

One of his favorites was when I brought home this black outlet cover from Kyle Switch Plates with red basketball design to reflect his love of the Bulls. (Yes, in our house we not only cheer on college ball, we follow the NBA too. And by "we" I mean "he".)

And, I haven't told him yet but for his birthday he's getting a matching automatic sports night light to go in this outlet. With those dark black walls it's hard to see in there at night! Although I have to admit it does look cool.

Yah I know, I know. I'm supposed to keep my decorative touch out of there. But, once again, I think he'll be surprised. In a good way. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fixes for Kitchen Backsplash Switches & Outlets

Sometimes there just isn't room to fit an electrical box vertically on your kitchen backsplash or bathroom tile. A great solution is to simply mount your kitchen outlets and light switches horizontally instead.

I've seen this in many kitchens by the sink where the half-backsplash wall tile or marble leaves little room for electrical devices. Usually it's when there's a ledge that opens up into another room or a split-level island that has a breakfast bar.

In some cases, switches have been mounted sideways but too close together for the cover plates. In that case, you can use plates in which the openings have been shifted to create a short side. Then, you can put the short ends of the plates together like this:

This looks like 2 normal cover plates, but if you look closely, you'll see that where they meet in the middle the screws are closer to the edges of each plate than on the outside edges. Here's what a single plate looks like:

See how the rocker opening and screw holes have been shifted to one side of the plate?

Using these half short wall plates made for kitchen tile or granite backsplashes is an excellent solution when you don't have room for a regular switchplate.

They also come as short duplex outlet covers and as short toggle plates for tight spaces too.

Switch plates with shorter edges are the only solution f you've remodeled your kitchen and run into this problem:

"Oops! My horizontally mounted kitchen switches are too close together for cover plates!"

It's a common problem that we get calls about so often that we've custom created these plates with you in mind. You're welcome!

For more tricky switch plate solutions see our post on Narrow Switch Plates for Tight Spaces.