Should I Paint Outlet Covers?
The question whether to paint outlet covers is not only a matter of aesthetics but also of safety. If you are painting outlet covers, then you need to make sure that they do not have any sharp edges or corners. You may want to consider using black, dark gray or even silver paint so that your outlet cover will look good and safe. There are many types of paints available in the market which can be used for painting outlets. The type of paint you choose depends upon your budget and the kind of job you are going to perform.
In general, there are two kinds of paint that can be used for painting outlet covers: acrylic and enamel paints. Acrylic paints are water based and require no additional cleaning up after application. Enamel paints contain pigments which allow them to last longer than other types of paint. Enamel paints are also resistant to fading over time. However, enamels are more expensive than acrylic paints.
Outlet covers can be painted with either type of paint. For example, if you plan to paint the top part of the outlet cover, then you would need to use an acrylic paint because it does not provide enough protection against scratches and chips from nails or screws when using a regular paint such as white or light gray. They are also easier to clean up when they get dirty. However, enamel paints cannot be applied over bare metal because they would cause rusting.
There are several advantages and disadvantages of each type of paint. For example, if you plan to use acrylic paint for painting outlet covers, then you must take into consideration that the colors may fade with time due to exposure to sunlight. You can also use an enamel paint for the top part of the outlet cover if you plan to use a thick coating of paint.
However, if you are also going to paint the front surface of the outlet cover, then you will need to choose an acrylic paint because it does not adhere well to enamel paint because of their chemical compositions and structures.
In addition, you need to ensure that the outlet covers you are going to paint are clean before you start the painting process. However, it is easier to find an outlet that sells this type of paint.
Enamel paints are more durable compared to other types of paints. Enamel paints last longer and they can be applied on various surfaces. However, you need a primer before applying them on metal objects such as outlet covers.
It is important that you look for high quality paints if you are going to paint outlet covers because you do not want the paint to peel or chip easily. Wiping down the surface with a cloth dipped in a mixture of water and denatured alcohol will help get rid of dust and debris.
Once you have cleaned the surface, allow it to dry before applying the paint. The amount of coats that you apply will depend on the type and brand of paint that you are using. In general, enamel paints tend to require more coats than acrylics when painting outlet covers.
It is a good idea to let the first coat dry before applying the second coat. Acrylic paints tend to dry quickly and may be prone to cracking if applied too thickly. If you are unsure about the kind of paint that should be used for painting outlet covers, then you can ask the manufacturer or do an internet search to compare different types of paints before buying any. Be sure to allow enough drying time between coats.
You can leave the outlet as is or decorate it by painting flowers or other designs on it. You may want to try stenciling letters on the front for a more personal touch. You may also want to consider painting the cover black so that it will blend in with the outlet and not be noticeable when looking at it from afar.
Painting outlet covers is not difficult as long as you have the right tools and materials.
It is usually better to underpaint rather than apply too many coats or paint that is too think. Excessively thick paint may crack when it dries which can ruin the finish. You can always apply another coat once the first has dried. In addition, you should wait at least a day before applying a second coat because the paint needs time to harden. Be sure to measure the outlets that you plan to paint so you can purchase the correct size of paint.
You should also take the time to analyze your outlets so that you do not buy a paint color that will not match.
You can also enlist the help of your children or grandchildren to participate in the painting process. This is a great activity to do with the whole family. They will enjoy the opportunity to express themselves artistically as well as helping you to redecorate your home. If this is the case, then you will need to paint the outlets before installing them.
These outlet covers can be painted with acrylic or enamel paints if they are brand new and not yet installed. However, it is not usually possible to paint plastic outlet covers once they have been installed because the surface tends to become pitted which makes it difficult to apply a smooth finish. If you do plan on including the children in this project, make sure that they can handle the task and do not rush them. Let them paint at their own speed so that they do a quality job. You may want to enlist their help in choosing the colors to paint the outlets as well.
You may want to have a set of outlet covers for each child in the family.
This is a guide on painting electrical outlet covers. This would allow you to give them all a unique touch and make it easier to tell them apart when flipping through your electrical box later on. If you want to go this route, you should make sure that the covers are all the same size and shape so that they will fit in your electrical box. You can also paint them yourself or enlist the kids to help if you prefer.
The best paints for painting outlet covers are enamel paints because they tend to last the longest and resist wear.
Wear the appropriate clothing when painting outlet covers. This includes an apron or old clothes that can be thrown away when the job is finished.
You will need to remove any outlet covers that you plan on painting so that you can work on them separately. You can usually pry them off with a flathead screwdriver. If there are screws holding them in place, then unscrew them by hand so you don’t scratch the outlet cover when removing it. You can also use vinyl electrical outlet covers with these paints.
These outlet covers are designed to fit in rounded electrical boxes so the edges are not usually visible when installed. They come in a variety of different colors and shapes so you should have no trouble finding one that fits your decorating scheme. The design of the electrical box may cause the edges of some covers to be more visible than others which is something to take into consideration before installing them.
Wash the outlet covers that have become dusty or dirty with mild detergent and water. Let them air-dry before moving on to the next step.
Tape off any area that you don’t want to get paint on such as the screws, mounting holes or writing located at the top of each cover. You can use painter’s tape and paper to accomplish this if you are concerned about the paint seeping underneath the tape.
Saturate a cotton rag or paper towel with the paint of your choice. You can use either oil-based enamel, latex paints or high-gloss resins for this project. Acrylic paints tend to peel more easily so you may want to avoid using them. Wipe the surface of the outlet cover completely clean and let dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Replace the tape or paper with fresh ones as needed when painting the outlet covers.
Allow the outlet covers to dry according to the drying times listed on the paint can. You can lightly sand the surface of each cover with fine-grit sandpaper,800 to 1,500 grit, if you want a smoother finish. If you are satisfied with the appearance of the covers at this point, then they are ready to be reinstalled. If you still want a different look, then move on to the next step.
Using a screwdriver or socket wrench with an hexagonal-shaped drive, remove the outlet box from the wall if you want to paint it as well. If you are satisfied with its appearance, then skip this step.
Wear gloves and safety goggles when sanding vinyl outlet boxes. You don’t want the pieces of the box flying at your eyes or fingers.
Sand the box with fine-grit sandpaper until it is completely smooth. Move to a higher grade of sandpaper, 800 to 1,500, and repeat this step until you reach the desired finish. You can also use steel wool or a specialized electric sander for vinyl.
Paint the outlet box using the method described in the previous steps. Allow it to dry and reinstall it back into the wall if you removed it.
Tip If you are not satisfied with the appearance of the outlet covers after painting them, then you can always reapply the finish in a different manner or try a new paint altogether.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Paint shields for electrical switches and outlets (J Neece – US Patent 5,723,816, 1998 – Google Patents)
- A Study on Attractive Paint in Non Paint Outlet with Special Reference to Coimbatore District (B Maheswari, GRD Kumar – Journal of the Gujarat …, 2019 – gujaratresearchsociety.in)
- Wall socket paint shield (JC Pacheco – US Patent 6,703,562, 2004 – Google Patents)
- Plug securing and outlet cover device (GRD Kumar – IJAR, 2015)