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How to Remove Electrical Plates before Painting

Learn how to remove electrical plates before painting from Brushed Interiors founder David Sartori in this Howcast video.


It is a good idea to remove your electrical cover plates prior to a paint job. It's much better to take the time to remove these than try to paint and cut around and get a perfect line or anything else because if you want to change it, the design later, you don't have a line of a paint line around here. So, we're going to remove all these cover plates. This is a modern one called the Decora [SP] style with a square. It has just a snap in outside cover that we're going to snap off. There we go.

Let's keep everything in a plastic bag altogether. It's always good to have a multi screwdriver handy with a small end or the Philips head as needed. There's no problem taking off electrical cover plates as long as you're careful. That's going to allow us to have a nice paint finish all the way up around and close to your outlets or your switches. Let's take a look at this one.

This is a cover for a TV cable, but I'd rather just get this out of the way as well. Well, sometimes you run into a much longer screw. Again, it's worth it to take these off ahead of time and get a perfect finish. You then have the option of changing design to one of the modern glass covers or brass or brushed metal look. It really changes the space. All right.

Around the house you might run into different designs, but they're all going to be essentially the same. It's good to have scraper to break it loose if it is painted in from many years of paint. Also pay attention to what the design is when you go to the store to buy new ones. If you're choosing a new design, choose the proper size.

In other words, pay attention. If this was an open squared Decora style, when you go to the store make sure to buy those. If it's a double older style, make sure you get the proper one. Okay, so that's it. I'm taking off the cover plates. Once you roll your wall out and everything is dry, you go ahead and pop your new one on. You're good to go.

Older buildings have a lot of character, but you're going to run into situations like this. The electrical cover plate is completely painted in from many years of paint. You're going to have to cut into here with your knife and pry this off including opening up the paint on the screw, taking out the screw to get this plate off, but it can be well worth it if you're changing the design.

So, we're wrapping up our paint job and we're putting the whole place back together. We've got our electrical cover plates to put on, but first I did a thorough cleaning job here of my switches. There's a couple different kinds. This one has a back plate that goes on first and then it has a cover that just snaps into place. Now, I've got a single square one down here also known as a Decora. Anything that's an open square like that is the Decora versus the old style with the two openings.

This is your chance for a couple of dollars that your Gracious Homes, your Home Depot or your Lowe's to buy like a brass finish, there's mirrored finishes, there's glass. Anything that you might want to match something else in your house or apartment. It's a very nice way and inexpensive way to change the look of the space.

We're putting a white one back on here, but it's brand new. Now we've got our paint touched up and everything's nice and close. So, we put our cover plate back on. In closing and putting the whole space back together, I cleaned off the old electrical outlets and switches and in some cases we bought some new plates of which there are many different designs at the store, brass, metal, brushed metal, nickel. We put the new plate back on and everything looks very nice now.

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