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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

New Replacement Covers for Old Vintage Outlets {A Photo Guide}

Your home may have vintage style outlets that have long since lost their covers.

Find pictures of old electrical outlets and links to brand new replacement covers below.

Guide to Replacing Vintage Outlet Covers In Your Home

1. T-slot duplex socket

These vintage 250v T-slot outlets fit standard duplex covers.
However, this device has been banned since the '60s because of its lack of a ground or neutral. Rather than adding a cover to this outdated outlet, you should update to a more modern 125V outlet.

2. Sierra Triplex Receptacle

This 3-plug receptacle is an old Sierra Triplex Outlet.
New triplex covers are available in white and ivory.
Note that devices darken over time, so a new cover won't be an exact match in finish to an old device like this one.

3. Triple Plug

Here's another example of a triplex outlet that is built into the cover plate.
These are no longer manufactured, so a modern update should be installed in its place.
An oversized cover may be required to cover the cutout in the wall.

4. Sierra Electric Square Simplex Outlet

Find new square simplex outlet covers for these vintage Sierra Electric plugs.

5. Sierra Despard Outlets

This small 2-prong sockets may share a plate with switches as shown below.
These are examples of despard devices, which fit despard covers sold here.

6. Despard Convenience Outlet

Here is a 3-prong despard outlet. Fits the same despard outlet cover plates as the Example #5 above.

Have another vintage style outlet not shown here?
Share a picture with us and let us help you find a replacement.

Odd Jacks in Older Homes

You may find some strange looking "plugs" in your home that are actually phone jacks, like the 2 examples shown below.

4-Prong Sierra Electric Phone Jack

Buy replacement covers for 4-prong Sierra jacks.

4-Prong Bell Systems Phone Jacks

Buy covers for Bell Systems 4 prong jacks.

Looking for vintage cover plates for other jacks or old switches?
Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Replacing Old Switches, Jacks, Outlets & Covers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Updating Your Old Doorbell to Ring 2 - DIY Solutions

Updating your old doorbell & intercom speaker to a modern Ring 2 video doorbell system can be tricky since the Ring 2 is smaller than your old one.

What do you do about that large hole by your front door when you remove the old Nutone or TekTone doorbell intercom?

Buy a blank vintage doorbell cover that's large enough to cover your old speaker and screws directly into the old box. Then, mount the new doorbell right to the blank cover

See blank doorbell intercom covers here.

The aluminum doorbell cover plates can easily be drilled into, so you can mount your Ring 2 doorbell right to the cover.

Below, an old doorbell and intercom speaker was removed and the large hole was covered with this blank aluminum plate. The homeowner drilled holes into the cover to mount the Ring 2 doorbell and camera directly to the plate.

There are a variety of old doorbell styles and sizes, as shown here:

Follow these tips to determine the correct plate to convert your old doorbell to a new video doorbell:

Remove the Old Speaker
Turn off power to the doorbell.
Unscrew the speaker and remove any wiring that's attached.

Measure the Box
Measure the outside dimensions of the box as well as the distance between the screw holes where the old speaker was attached.

Note: screw holes are measured from the center of one hole to the center of the opposite hole.

Find the Right Size Cover Plate
You'll need the outside dimensions as well as the screw spread.

Covers are available in 2 sizes:

  • 6.38" H x 4.5" W
  • 7.5" H x 5.5" W

If your box is recessed in brick or other siding, make sure there's clearance for the cover plate. You may need to order a smaller size and use weather stripping or a gasket under the cover.

Find the Right Screw Spacing
NuTone doorbells typically have one of 4 screw spreads:

  • 3.75" (center to center)
  • 4" (center to center)
  • 4.5" (center to center)
  • 5.25" (center to center) 
Screw spacing of the new cover must align with the box that's currently there.

Find Your Plate

Once you have the correct cover to act as your back plate, follow the instructions included with your Ring 2 doorbell, modifying them as needed to mount the video doorbell to the aluminum cover.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fix Gap Behind Switch Plates & Outlet Covers

Have a gap between your switch plate and the wall?

If you've removed wall paneling, have an electrical box that sticks out from your wall, or if you've replaced an old outlet with a bulky new receptacle, you may have a gap that exists between the cover and wall.

There are 2 ways to fill a gap behind a cover plate.

  1. Get a cover with a deeper edge.
  2. Add a filler between the plate and the wall.

Options are detailed below for fixing gaps in 3 sizes:

  • 1/8" (there are 3 solutions for a 1/8" gap)
  • 1/4"
  • 1/2"

FIX A 1/8" GAP:

Add a 1/8" Depth Ring Behind Cover Plate

Recommended for 1/8" Gap

If you have a gap that's 1/8" and you'd like to keep your current switch plate, you can get a gap filler to sit between your cover and the wall.

These depth rings fill a 1/8" gap nicely, and are simple to install. Sizes from 1-5 gangs, standard, oversized & specialty sizes.

Get them at Kyle Switch Plates - search "EXDR".

Place an Extender Ring Behind Wall Plate

Recommended for 1/8" Gap & Wall Damage

If there's any wall damage around the electrical box that isn't covered by your current switchplate, you can fix a 1/8" gap and expand the wall coverage with a depth extender ring.

Note these only come in white and will be visible behind a standard cover.

Get them at Kyle Switch Plates - search "OVC".

Get a Deep Cover Plate

Recommended for 1/8" Gap

If you aren't particularly attached to your old cover, you can simply toss it and
replace it with a deep plate.

Deep plates have a larger bevel on the edges, so they reach back around your electrical box to meet the wall.

Standard covers have a 5/32" bevel, while deep plates have twice as much bevel: 5/16".

This is great for filling a gap that's 1/8" or slightly bigger than 1/8".

There are many sizes - shop deep plates here.

FIX A 1/4" GAP:

Electrical Box Extenders for 1/4" Gap

Recommended for 1/4" Gap

Plastic electrical box extenders sit underneath your switch plate and fill a gap of 1/4".

They are single-gang only (for 1 device) and come in white, ivory or brown.

If your issue isn't a protruding wall box, but instead a bulky device, these extenders will lift your device 3/4" forward & out of the electrical box.

Get them at Kyle Switch Plates - search "6197".

FIX A 1/2" GAP:

Buy an Extra Deep Cover

Recommended for 1/2" Gap

For electrical devices that really stick out from the wall, an extra deep wall plate will do the job.

These deepest covers fix a gap up to 1/2".

Finishes are limited (white & stainless steel only), but if you have to fill a gap that's nearly half an inch, this is your best bet.

Single-gang only. Get them at Kyle Switch Plates - search "DP" or "extra deep".


Spacers can be used to adjust your electrical devices.

Combine spacers with the solutions above if you're still having issues getting the right fit.

These little green rubbery things go underneath your switch or outlet (between the device and the electrical box) to lift devices up (in increments of 1/8").

If a deeper cover plate is too deep for your situation (resulting in sunken electrical devices that don't reach the cover plate snugly) simply stack as many spacers under the devices as necessary to pull them up where you need them.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

5 Simple Repairs to Get Your Home Holiday Ready

Is it just me or do we all have that one Facebook friend who posts countdowns to Christmas starting in July?

Many eye-rolls of mine can be attributed to these Christmas Countdown obsessed weirdos posters.

Nothing against Christmas, it's just that there's a time and place for Christmas, and for me, it doesn't even begin to begin until November 1st. Which, it just so happens, is today's date.

As the Winter season and all its festivities approach us, we get lured onto store aisles bursting with Christmas decor for the home. So enticing, isn't it? (Never mind the boxes and boxes of holiday decor already collecting dust in our attics.)

But, if you're prepping your home for party guests, you may want to start with some other fixes around your home. Have any DIY home improvement projects that are stuck at 90% done? I sure do!

  • That window sill repair that never got that last coat of paint.
  • The living room outlet we added that we cut too big a hole for.
  • Those loose switch plates in the kitchen backsplash tile.

I'll stop there. You get the picture.

Get Your Home Ready for Holiday Guests By Starting with Repairs

Want to know what keeps me from getting repairs done around my house? The hassle of not knowing how to fix the problem.

Here, I'll show you how to fix common electrical device & cover issues you may be having.

Issue: Too Big a Hole was Cut for a New Outlet

Fix: Oversized switch plates are made for this! They cover a larger portion of the wall around your switch or outlet, so too large of a hole in the drywall is no longer visible.

Get oversized wall plates here. Voila!

Issue: We added wainscot to our dining room and now the outlet sits too deep in the wall.

Fix: Pull the device forward with receptacle spacers (little rubber green thingies) that sit underneath the outlet. Stack as many as needed under your electrical device, then cover with your original cover plate.

Issue: Our switch plates are loose in our kitchen now that we added a tile backsplash above the granite countertops.

Fix: Loose plates (caused by switchplate screws that are too long) are the result of your tile installer not cutting enough space around your electrical boxes.

Get a bolt cutter and snip the screws down, or add spacers under your devices and cover with deeper bevel plates.

Issue: We removed all our wall plates to paint and can't find the dimmer knob.

Fix: Replacement dimmer knobs can be purchased online. Just be sure to get a good look at type of stem sticking out of the dimmer so you can be sure the new knob will fit.

In addition to replacement rotary knobs, you can get new oval knobs and split dimmer knobs.

Don't miss our decorative round dimmer knobs - great for dressing up your home for the holidays.

Issue: We removed an old doorbell and intercom speaker and need a way to cover the box.

Fix: Get blank covers for vintage doorbell systems after you've removed the outdated hardware.

We have a variety of sizes, so take measurements of yours (including the spacing between the screw holes for the cover to attach to the box) and contact us so we can set you up with the correct replacement.

Got any other issues pertaining to electrical components and their covers? Let us know so we can help you find a solution.

Now off to trim down some rocker switch plate screws.