Light switch plate covers have two main purposes, aesthetics and safety. Let's deal with safety first because how attractive your covers are will not matter if your house has burned down. Switch Plates cover the hollow area in the wall where the light switches are installed. This hollow area will have a bundle of wires in it which brings electricity to the switch. This electricity allows the lights to come on and go off ever time to flip the switch. Although the big hole in the wall is unattractive the wires themselves can be a fire and safety hazard. Covering these wires will protect both the wires and the people who are silly enough to stick their fingers in there. Make sure that all the wires are securely in place and that there are no bare wires that could cause problems.
Now that the safety issues are taken care of we can move on to the fun parts. Actually before we get to the fun parts perhaps we should deal with the boring historical aspects. Although the inventor of switch plate covers has been lost (poor guy) to the annals of history the true history of switch plates is rather long and boring. Kind of like a long and boring wall that has bland switch plate covers. People used to try and hide their switches. They'd get plates that blended into the walls in order to pretend that they weren't there. Pretending that they weren't there didn't work and made them difficult to find, so in recent years people decided to dress them up. Now light switch plate covers can make a fashion statement. That is the fun part, dressing up your walls.
Actually perhaps before getting into the fun of dressing up the covers maybe we should talk about installing them. That's not the most fun in the world but it's at least quick and easy. Switch plates and outlet covers have a couple of screws that keep them firmly attached to the wall. If they weren't screwed in they'd fall off. Anywayâ€¦To remove, replace, or install switch plates simply remove the screws which are in the current plate. There could be 2 screws or 4 screws or however many but there will be at least two. Remove any screws using a flat headed screwdriver, remove the old plate (if there is one), hold the new plate where the old plate was, and start screwing the screws back in. This is also what you want to do if you decide to paint the wall around the switch plate. Remove the plate, paint, and replace the plate. Now we can move on to the fun part of choosing the right plate for the right room.
There are three main types of switches and you need to know which you've got before you run out and start shopping. Toggle switches are the ones which flip up and down for on and off. This is the main type that is found in most houses. Push button switches are the older ones which have two buttons. They require special push button switch plates. One button is for on and one button is for off. These are not normally used in newer homes. They are often found in older homes that have not been upgraded recently. Rocker switches are a bit more industrial in nature. These switches are a solid piece which go on and off by rocking the switch up or down. This is important because if you run out and start shopping but can't remember which type of switch you have you may have to make a trip to the returns desk to exchange them. Exchanging stuff is no fun at all.
Now that the type of switches has been identified an inventory of the number and types of switches and outlet needs to be taken. It is very difficult to remember exactly how many switches that there are not to mention how many multiple switch sets that each room may have. Counting all of these is not an exciting task but when it comes time to actually start shopping you need to know what you have in order to determine what you need. Switches come in singles, doubles, triples, quads, and switch outlet combos. If you want to use matching outlet covers to match your switches you'll need to count those as well. Normally the outlet covers are less decorative but using matching material (wood, stone, ceramic, or metal) can keep the room looking and feeling unified.
Switch covers are made from a lot of materials. Plastic is one of the most common. If you're looking for decorative switch plates however plastic isn't always the best option. Metal switch plate covers are available in pretty much every type of metal you can think of. Two of my favorite metal finishes are brushed nickel switch plates and oil rubbed bronze switch plates. Metal are good for certain styles. If you're decorating your room in a Victorian theme you should remember to look for Victorian switch plates. These are very fancy and shiny and can really dress up a room. If you're going for something a little more rustic western switch plates are available in a lot of possible options. These reproduction antique switch plates can add a lot to a room.
Ceramic switch plate covers are more colorful and work wonderfully in a kid's room or in a bathroom. Kids switch plates can include characters from favorite story books or clowns. Rubber duckies or nautical plates can be used in the bathroom.
Wood switch plate covers come in a lot of colors and finishes. They can be painted to match any other wood painted furniture. They can be unfinished for a natural look or stained to match the room's current dÃ©cor. Oak switch plates are a favorite for offices and rooms where darker wood is used.
Regardless of the room that you are decorating switch plates can do a lot to improve the look of a room. You don't need fancy covers but I gotta admit I like'em.