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Painting Outlets Supplies
SAFETY: Since this post was shared I’ve received several comments from electricians. Some are adamant that you should never do this. Others have said it’s not a problem. You may want to do outside research yourself and read the comments as I’ve left those comments up. Many , such as myself, have done this for years, but if you decide to do it you need to do so with full knowledge of both sides and making sure you do it as safely as possible. It’s also a good idea for added safety to turn off the breaker to the outlet you are painting. Though not shown here its an added good idea to place a little cardboard or a small piece of folded up paper towel into the slots to protect them even more before painting. You want to keep paint out of the slots. Plus it will keep them from working. Home inspectors test for a connection only. Paint can cause that to fail.
NEVER layer paint onto outlets. If they already have been painted over just get new ones to be safe.
- Cardboard or foam board approximately 14″x14″
- Utility knife
- Spray paint of choice
- Masking tape (optional to hold cardboard in place)
Should you choose to replace them rather than paint they are fairly inexpensive.
- Wall Plates (if you want to purchase new ones)
- Outlet Receptacle
Remove the cover plate.
Trace the cover plate onto the center of your 14″x14″ cardboard.
Cut 1/2″ inside the outer lines. This keeps the paint from getting on any part of the wall.
Place your board over the outlet. Depending on how close you cut it, it might stay in place. You can also use some masking tape to hold it if needed or have someone hold it while you paint.
Give two or three very light coats of spray paint onto the outlet, allowing it to dry in between. Very light coats will not cause any problems as far as going into the plug slots. Though I suggest stuffing a little cardboard or folded up paper towel in each slot for added protection.
Cover plates are very inexpensive, however, old ones are also easy to paint.
For those concerned about painting the outlets themselves (as I am), try ONLY painting the outlet covers. Take them off, paint them and their screws the color you want, and reinstall them. Then carefully CLEAN the switches and outlets with a just damp towelette. Unless your walls or covers are white-white or the switch or outlet itself is very dark or already painted once, this will allow the switch or outlet to blend with the color of the wall.
I have barely colored dove gray walls and had tan switches, outlets, and switch plates. I lightly sprayed the plates white. The result was a somewhat biscuit color that makes a nice transition between the walls and the outlets/switches.
(I’ll still be replacing switches soon as after I did this I began to notice that some switches were feeling “soft”… they don’t nicely turn on and off but sometimes crackle a bit when flipping, which is NOT a good thing and well worth the cost of replacement. It’s just not worth the risk when they do this.)
Being a licensed electrician I will tell you it’s dangerous painting your outlets and it is in 2 national fire and safety books not too paint them . this could lead you to getting sued for advsing people to do something unsafe .. food for thought .. yes it’s cheap and crafty but unsafe .
Nancy, you mentioned in one of your responses that you were not an expert on the matter, but had spoken with a few people online that mentioned they were electricians and approved of this. Please don’t take this as me being a jerk just for the sake of it, but coming from an electrical inspector and master electrician, this is an unsafe project. I recognize that houses with painted outlets are everywhere and most will never cause an issue, but some will. Even a “light spray” of paint compromises the integrity of the outlet. Poor electrical connections get hot and can damage your electronics or worse, cause a fire. I do not believe there exists a licensed electrical inspector or electrical equipment testing laboratory that would give the thumbs up to spraypainting outlets. They cost a bit more, but the major outlet and switch manufacturers make their products in custom colors. Please consider that instead.
Thank you Jake for the very respectful and insightful post. Because I’ve had comments on both sides I’ve made it a point to update my warning on the post and suggest they read the comment section for views on both sides, several by electricians and also do their own research. If they do choose to do it, which many will because… well you know… people… I at least want them to know the importance of very light coat etc. while also knowing some electricians say it is not safe to do in any form.
My name is Ed and I would like to weigh in on the painting of electrical outlets. My background is I have three degrees in physics I’m not an electrician I’m a retired physicist . I decided to go back to the workplace because I was bored and so I am a licensed home inspevyor for insurance companies. I will tell you this and you can call any insurance inspector that works for insurance companies and ask them what their position would be on a claim. They will not budge on this subject. The homeowner would be found negligent in the care and maintenance of their home. Their statement would say anyone who uses paint can read the label. The label says flammable. Explosive. Use in ventilateld area. If something happened in the house your claim would be denied and your bank would probably sue you. Unfortunately when that happens every insurance that you carry ie… health insurance, life insurance or car insurance, boat Insurance motorcycle insurance you name it might drop you due to being found negligent in your homes care. They would consider your actions wreckless and the law would back them up. They might get a judgement against you and make insurance so price prohibited that you would get rid of two cars because you could only afford one. Drop your life insurance and health insurance and be stuck in a rental property for the rest of your life. If the rental company didn’t pull your mortgage history and record of Fire. Paint “WILL NOY PASS CODE”. Spend the money and be safe.
I would never, ever do this.
I have called an electrician in 2 of our houses to replace the switches and outlets to go with new white plates. I don’t think this is the same as painting a knob from a cabinet door.
I would be furious if I bought a house and at inspection Time found out the sellers had done this. I think this is doing things the cheap way not the correct way. Sometimes you just have to spend some money to get the look you want and be safe. I would wonder what other things the owners had done like this. I wouldn’t buy a house where this had been done
I don’t really understand the problem , I have sold and bought several houses that this was done on some of the outlets. All of them passed inspection and to my knowledge never had any issues.
There is none depending on who you ask. Most of the “angry” responses you see seem to mainly come from angry people who need to express themselves. I always check things out and place warnings when needed. I’m not an expert but I did write what I was told on both sides from people who knew about the topic. Ü
Nation fire and safety book
-article 110.12 b
. You can’t have any painted electrical components… because then they are deemed unsafe and LOOSE their u.l. Listing .
U.l. Listing is the standards that make things safe in the United States… that’s why people say OH THATS MADE IN CHINA. It’s in safe .. it’s not trash talk it’s TRUE. Other countries don’t have a standard like u.l. Listing in which makes their countries safe .
Good luck with that. When I sold my last house I had to give them money back to replace ALL the outlets as they had been painted. That or it was not going to pass inspection.
It bothers me to see a beautiful painted wall with a glaring white elec. wall plug. Surely we can do better than that.
I agree, you are an electricians nightmare….. anyone who would plug into a socket that has been sprayed painted is taking a huge chance of being at the very least being zapped. Hand paint with small brush very carefully!
I’ve talked to electricians online and most have told me it’s not an issue at all. Just don’t want to drench it in paint.. just a light coat. Ü
Could be construed as a code violation Painting outlets As an electrician for over 25 years 110.12(C) NEC National electric code
New outlets cost less than a dollar and take less time to install yourself than this spray paint idea. I don’t know why anyone would do this.
Most outlets need to be replaced after a few years. They won’t hold the plugs in the socket. Just replace them. I have flipped about 6 houses, I replace all plugins.
Do not do this, especially as shown in the top pic. Paint is flammable, it’s also liquid: two things that do not mix with electricity.
If you are that worried about yellowed outlets buy new ones.
I think if you follow her method, i.e. turnig off power and filling the holes the sockets will not get paint in them and if you removed the wall plate to paint it you would not have to pry it off. My painted plates look like store bought….can’t decide if I want to risk the sockets…will see how I like the color for awhile.
I was taught to never paint outlets as it is against building code.
Your article is based on outlets that were painted by NOT removing the plate cover. Totally opposite of the above demonstration. Above she takes the cover off…. does a light coat on the outlet….then a light coat on the cover plate…. letting them both dry completely and then screwing it back on the wall. In your article they didn’t remove the cover and painted over it multiple times. Totally different situation. I agree….dont do what your article describes that’s horrible….but I dont see anything wrong with the above demo.
Be prepared to repaint after extended use of an outlet or switch. I have had numerous positive comments on the color of my receptacles. Great idea!
Great idea! Is there a specific kind of spray paint you would recommend? Thanks so much.
I use any type of Rust-Oleum gloss spray paint. Their coverage seems to be the best. Ü Thanks so much for stopping by!
Great idea but I don’t understand the purpose of the cuts around the outlet holes, once you’ve cut the 1/2″ around the perimeter, the piece is going to fall out (which is really all you need). Question…..is it possible to spray paint the light switches without damaging the internal mechanism with the same advice you gave for the outlets, spraying lightly several times? My home is old and the switches have yellowed over time. Thanks in advance.
Oh my gosh Madeline… you’re of course correct. And when you look at the bottom photos they show it completely cut out as a square. I realized after I cut the holes that it was pointless but I took photos along the way and neglected to remove the one’s showing the holes cut out. Sometimes I get on autopilot! Anyway, thank you SO much for pointing that out. I’ve updated the photos on the post now.
As far as light switches go its a little trickier. I’ve tried it myself actually. It “kind of” works using the same exact method, cutting a hole just barely big enough to cover the plastic switch part you will be painting. As with the outlets use super light coats but the difficult part is getting all sides of the actual switch part coated nice without using too much paint. I didn’t find a satisfactory way to do it and make it look nice which is why I opted to not show that here. You certainty do have to be careful on electrical stuff. I’d definitely turn off the outlet at the breaker box before trying it. Just for added safety. Ü
Thanks for your excellent advice, think I will try just very carefully painting them with a small artist’s brush, a bit time consuming and tedious but while listening to a book on a CD it shouldn’t be too unpleasant and will save money not buying new switches and getting or hiring someone install them. Any thoughts on my idea? Thanks…..and I’m going to check out your site.
Just checked out your site and signed up immediately, I think I wish I was your next door neighbor, we are of the same mindset. Wishing you continued success in all aspects of you and your husband’s lives.
How kind of your Madeline. Thank you so much for the kind words. We’re thrilled to have you with us!
I think that should work wonderfully!
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My parents have some outlets that they want to change right now. This would be an easier solution for them!
Glad to give you an option! Thanks so much for stopping by Jamie. Ü
I can attest to this! We have a house full of spray painted outlets and covers! Visiting from Happiness is Homemade party.
Awesome! Thanks for visiting Victoria!
I’ve been fretting over some of these plates after we remodeled. Thanks for sharing.
Glad to be of help! Thanks so much for stopping by Debbie. Ü