Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Solutions for Oddly Spaced Electrical Switches

You may have a light switch and outlet that are close together, but mounted in separate electrical boxes, making the spacing between them odd.

Learn how to cover oddly spaced electrical devices below.

Visit our site for more switch plate problems & solutions

Problem #1: Adjacent Electrical Boxes

Solution A:

If your devices are in separate boxes that butt up against one another, you'll find that the spacing between them is odd.

A standard multi-gang cover plate won't be spaced properly to cover devices mounted like this:

And two separate single cover plates will be too wide to sit this close together.

Sometimes, desperate homeowners will cut a side off of two (or more) plastic switch plates to make a custom piecemeal cover. But the results are often quite unattractive.

A better solution is to pair together two narrow cover plates.

Solution B:

Another solution for the example shown above is to update the duplex outlet to a block outlet, and get a cover with widely spaced rocker openings.

Swapping out a duplex outlet for a modern block outlet is simple.

This cover plate's 2 rocker cutouts are spaced farther apart than on a standard double cover. The perfect solution for side by side electrical boxes with two switches or a switch and electrical plug socket.

Solution C:

You may have the same issue, but with multi-gang boxes. We have plates that are narrow on a single side to fix this problem:

Problem #2: Electrical Boxes in Close Proximity

It can look a little odd to have a bunch of single cover plates in close proximity with a small wall gap between them, like this:

You can order switch plates that have a section with no device opening.

You'll see that updating duplex outlets to block style outlets (shown above) not only gives you a modern look, but also gives you more options when selecting cover plates.

Problem #3: Electrical Boxes In Tight Spots

You can order an assortment of narrow, half narrow and other unique switch plates to fit within constraints such as door jambs that sit too close to your electrical devices.

For example, this homeowner was forced to cut the edges off several plastic switch plates to fit this tight spot next to the door:

A better solution is to get the half narrow triple toggle (to cover the switch and 2 dimmers), then add a half narrow outlet cover to the end for the horizontal toggle switches.

There are many ways to combine narrow and half narrow cover plates to achieve what you need.

Take careful measurements to determine what will work in your situation. At Kyle Switch Plates, we want you to find the solution that makes you happy. You can always order a variety of our specialized covers, then return the ones that don't work out.

Note: Device Position is NOT Fixed

An important thing to note is that your devices can be moved by simply loosening the 2 screws that mount them into the electrical box, pushing them toward the left or right, then tightening the screws to hold them back into the position you need them in.

This is a great way to get devices further from a door jamb, cabinet or other structure that sits too close to your device for a cover plate to fit.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Multi-Light Switch Plate & Outlet Cover Solutions

What to do when you can't find the configuration you need.

As a homeowner, you've no doubt removed a switch plate or outlet cover at some point - whether you were painting your walls or adding paneling, wainscot or tile.

And it's so simple, you've probably given it very little thought (except maybe keeping track of the screws while the plate was off the wall).

If you've lost a cover (you'd be surprised how many get thrown out when a professional painter is hired) or broken one (perhaps screwing the screws in too tight), you've likely run over to your local hardware store to find a replacement.

If that errand failed, you probably a rare configuration - meaning 2, 3 or 4 electrical devices that share a plate are lined up in an order that you can't find a cover for. (At least, you think you can't find a cover.)

The good news is...

There are several ways to solve this problem, which we'll detail below.

How to Get a Switch Plate with Device Cutouts in the Right Order

Solution 1: Re-arrange Your Devices

Often times, we get calls from customers who "almost" find what they need. For instance, a plate with the correct 3 cutouts, but they're not in the right order to match their switches or outlets.

Guest what - this is super, super common.

What many people don't realize is how easy it is to change the order of the devices in your electrical box.

If you have a duplex outlet in between a rotary dimmer and a rocker light switch, as shown here:

You may be looking for this triple cover plate configuration:

And we do carry this plate in 5 finishes (shown in ivory above). But if you're looking to match a room with specialty finish covers - for instance, dark bronze or satin brass - you're out of luck.

Unless, you simply re-arrange your devices. Turn off the power supply to these devices, and then unscrew them from the electrical box and change the order, then screw back into the box.

Now, you can get a cover plate in 11 finishes. And it will take you roughly 5 minutes to swap the position of your switches/outlets.

Solution 2: Update Your Devices

When you need a plate with a mix of cutouts, it narrows your options (rare combo plates often only come in white).

Updating one or two of your devices can solve your problem. Using the same example as above, let's say you have a rotary dimmer, duplex outlet and rocker switch.

Replacing the duplex outlet with a block outlet that fits a "Decora rocker" opening (same as for the rocker light switch), will result in the need for this combo cover plate, available in 17 finishes:

Block outlets are manufactured in more finishes than older duplex style outlets, so you'll have greater flexibility if you update your wall outlets to this modern style.

It takes a little more time, since you have to unwire the old outlet and re-wire in the new one (see instructions for swapping out an outlet here), but, in the end, you'll get the look you want.

Just do a little research (there are lots of installation videos on YouTube) and you can swap out a device without hiring an electrician.

While you're at it, you can also update to a rocker style dimmer to make finding your plate even easier - a triple rocker switch plate will be available at any hardware store that sells wall plates.

Solution 3: Create Your Plate with Inserts

For very specialized configurations - such as when a multi-device cover plate needs openings for phone and data jacks or needs a slot that's blank (closed off completely if there is no device in the slot), you can craft a custom plate with inserts.

An outlet & cable jack plate (shown in stainless steel below) is difficult to find and manufactured in very few finishes.

To get a greater variety of finish options, simply swap out the cable jack for a cable jack insert that fits into a rocker opening.

Not only does the duplex/rocker plate look more balanced with the cable jack insert, but you have much more options for matching the surrounding decor.

When you have a spot in your multi-gang electrical box that is no longer in use, you can get a plate that has a blank slot that covers the empty area behind it.

There are many configurations that incorporate blank positions (no cutout for a device - see center of plate above), but many times these are available in limited finishes (for example, the toggle-blank-rocker plate above).

Getting a configuration that has 3 openings and simply filling the unused one with a dummy switch or blank filler can broaden your options in terms of available finishes. You'll hardly notice the blank toggle filling the center position in the black cover plate:

For a box with a toggle, duplex outlet and toggle switch - a rare configuration - you'll only find a white plate to cover your devices (unless you re-arrange or update them, as explained in solutions 1 & 2 above).

Or, you can get a plate with a rocker opening in place of one of the toggle cutouts (for the above example, this plate), and convert that slot with a toggle insert for rocker openings.

Now, you can choose from more finishes, so you can get a cover plate that matches the others in the same room.

See other inserts and fillers to see all the possibilities for converting switch plate cover openings.

There you go - 3 simple solutions to finding the cover plate you need, in the finish you want, even when you think it doesn't exist.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Easy Fix When Your Switches Don't Line Up with the Cover Plate

After painting all the interior walls in my home, I decided to get update my light switches and cover plates from plain white to elegant ivory and oil rubbed bronze.

My husband is the son of an electrician, so I knew swapping out the light switches would be a breeze. (For him, anyway).

What I didn't expect was, that after all the new switches were screwed firmly into their electrical boxes, they didn't line up with the cutouts in my gorgeous new cover plates.


Did we get defective switch plates???

No, turns out...

When your switches don't line up with the cover plate, there's an easy fix:

First, I have to let you in on a little secret: The devices themselves are meant to have some "play" in them, so you can adjust them left to right and up/down to match up perfectly with the cover.

See how the screw hole (highlighted in orange in the image below) is an oval shape? It's bigger than the screw that mounts the switch to the electrical box.

All you have to do is loosen the screw a little bit and push the switch (or outlet) in the direction you need it to go in order for the cover plate to line up.


Once it's in the proper position, just screw it back in tight and you're good to go!

After we made some minor adjustments to this switch shown here (and some others throughout the living room), everything lined up perfectly.

You may need to adjust all of the devices in your electrical box to get a multi-gang plate to line up with each switch.

So simple!

Side note: My husband didn't think we needed to go to all this effort to replace the electrical devices and covers, but now that they're in, he loves them!

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Always shut off the power to the device(s) before making adjustments to positioning.

Shop Kyle Switch Plates for new electrical devices and quality cover plates. An online superstore for high-end and hard-to-find electrical components - find solutions you won't get at your local hardware store.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Replacing the Cover for an Outlet in Your Floor

Floor outlets are so convenient aren't they?

When positioned underneath a couch or side table, they keep your lamp and electronics cords discreetly out of sight. And, they prevent tripping hazards from running cords from side tables to wall outlets.

If they're not underneath furniture, you'll want to keep them covered when they're not in use.

Whether the power plug in your floor has a round, rectangle or square cover plate, you may find at some point that the cover needs to be replaced. Especially if you've decided to sell your home and want to get it Open House ready before your house goes on the market.

At Kyle Switch Plates, we get calls every week about buying just the cover for a floor box outlet.

The problem is, the manufacturers of outlets that go in the floor don't sell the covers separately. The little round caps that fit into the cover plates, are available for purchase if you need replacements.

(Be sure to note brand and size needed before purchasing caps.)

The cheapest way to get a replacement cover for a floor mounted receptacle...
(and this is only if you have a single Leviton brand receptacle - not a duplex outlet) 
...is to buy the Phone Jack Floor Box Kit, and just use the brass cover plate.

(To replace your outlet cover with a phone jack cover, you must ensure you have a single Leviton brand floor receptacle. We recommend double checking the measurements before purchasing.)

If you have to buy a whole new unit in order to just replace your missing or damaged cover, you may want to consider expanding your box to accommodate additional electrical plugs or add data jacks alongside the outlet.

For instance, if you currently have a single receptacle for only 1 plug, consider updating to a duplex receptacle that will allow 2 things to be plugged in. Or, if you already have a duplex outlet in your floor, see if you have room to expand to a larger box that has two outlets side by side, to accommodate 4 plugs at once.

Shop all floor box configurations at Kyle Switch Plates.

Floor box covers are also available in a satin nickel finish to go with gray flooring. (Covers not sold separately.)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Covering a Single Switch in a Wide Box [2 Simple Solutions]

Sometimes a 2-gang electrical box (a box that's made to hold 2 switches or outlets) ends up with a single device.

Ripping out the double masonry box to replace it with a single handy box will result in a bigger hole in the wall and the need to replaster around it.

Save yourself the headache and cover your double wide box with 1 of 2 switch plates, which we'll show you below.


Double wide electrical box with only a single device (could be a switch, outlet or data plug):

Solution 1:

If you don't mind things being a little off-balance, you can easily cover this switch with a double cover plate that has a switch cutout on the left and no cutout on the right:

The benefit of this simple solution is that a single rocker single blank cover is available in a variety of finishes, so you can easily match the plate to the color scheme of your walls, trim or decor.

Solution 2:

If having the switch off to one side bugs you, here's another solution.

You can get this centered switch cover which screws into your device to hold it in the middle. Simply remove the device from it's position in the electrical box, and attach it to the cover using the screws provided with the plate.

The plate then screws into the 4 tabs in the electrical box (the 2 not being used on the right and the 2 that previously held the switch to the left).

This plate is only available in white, so we recommend this solution if you have white molding and trim and want to keep the look fresh, like in a kitchen or powder room.

Buy Covers for Single Switches in Double Boxes:

Use the links below to order covers for toggle and rocker switches or duplex outlets that are mounted solo in a double size box.

These plates work with 2-gang masonry boxes that have 4 slots for screws, like these here:

(For covering other styles of boxes, see our Centered Device Tutorial here).

For Rocker Switches / GFCI Outlets:

1-cutout-1-blank covers for rockers
centered cutout covers for rockers

For Toggle Switches:

1-toggle-opening-1-blank cover
centered toggle covers for wider boxes

For Duplex Outlets:

1-outlet-1-blank cover plate
centered duplex outlet covers

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Covering Switches When the Wall Cutout is Too Big

If too much sheetrock was cut out along your electrical box, you'll need an oversized switch plate to cover extra wall space around your switch or outlet.

Shop oversized light switch & outlet covers here.

Sometimes, your situation is unique, and a typical oversized cover won't fix your switchplate problem.

It's good to know that blank fillers and switch plate cutout converter inserts can help you create a custom solution to a tricky electrical cover plate problem.

Here, for example, is a setup with 4 toggle switches mounted horizontally along the wall, with extra space cut out on both sides:

A regular or even oversized 4-toggle cover plate will not cover the hole in the wall around these switches.

But, you can go up to a larger cover - an oversized 6-toggle plate, and then fill the first and last toggle opening with a blank toggle light switch filler:

Then, the entire wall cutout will be covered by the plate, and the extra toggle openings will be filled.

This is an easy custom solution to a problem the homeowner had been living with for years. All parts were simply ordered online at Kyle Switch Plates.

Have a tricky situation with an electrical cover that's causing an eye-sore in your home? Contact Kyle Switch Plates to work out a solution. It's probably easier than you think!

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.

To remove an in-wall intercom speaker that has screws on the left and right sides, rather than positioned top-bottom as shown above, here is a blank intercom cover.

Measuring for Your Replacement Nutone Cover

First, remove your intercom cover from the wall.

Then, measure the width and length of the area that needs to be covered (including any damaged wall around the metal frame).

Finally, measure the distance of the screw holes. Note that the correct way to measure distance between screws is from the centers of the screw holes.

This particular intercom speaker needed a 7.5" H x 5.5" W cover with screws spaced 3.75" apart (center to center). That cover can be purchased here.