Wall Plates

Looking for wall plates or outlet covers for your home or business? Choose HomElectrical for wall plate covers and all your electrical supply needs. Shop online now and you’ll enjoy free shipping on everything from decorative switch plates, light switch covers, decorative wall plates, and more. Here, HomElectrical provides helpful information for some of the frequently asked questions about wall plates.

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What is the use of a wall plate?

A wall plate cover or light switch cover is the external plate or covering on an electrical light switch. These light switch plates screw into the switches and protect the wiring behind the plate from being touched. Only the toggle switch protrudes to turn the light on and off. Wall plates may be made from metal, such as brass or stainless steel, or they may be plastic or even wood. Common types of wall plates include:

  • Duplex wall plates
  • Rocker wall plates
  • Toggle wall plates
  • Screwless wall plates

The covers for electrical receptacles or outlets may also be referred to as wall plates. The most common type is a wall plate with two openings to expose the plugs in a duplex outlet.

What is a blank wall plate used for?

A blank wall plate or blank light switch cover easily removes safety concerns from unused outlets, without having to remove the outlet box completely. This type of wall plate fastens directly to the frame of the outlet box or electrical receptacle. It covers the hole in the wall and eliminates the need for costly drywall patching while still preserving the wall’s integrity.

Can you paint wall plate covers?

Both plastic and metal switch plate covers can be painted to match the wall or to match the outlets. However, you should never paint a wall plate cover when it is mounted in place. Otherwise, you risk electrical shock and getting paint into the outlet. Turn off the power to the outlet first, remove the paint cover, and paint it on a flat surface. Allow ample time for the paint to dry before reattaching the plate cover.

What is a Safe Plate Switch Cover?

A safe plate wall plate (also called a child-proof wall plate cover) is an easy and decorative way to add extra protection for children who might accidentally tamper with electrical outlets. These types of wall plates have a protective cover that instantly falls into place when you remove a plug from an outlet or fold down over the light switch when you turn the lights on or off.

What is a Gang?

A gang is a grouped set of switches, sockets, connectors, or other electrical or mechanical devices. However, a gang does not always refer to the number of openings in a wall plate. A wall plate, for example, can hold two duplex receptacles and be categorized as a two-gang, even though it has four outlets for plugging in devices.

What are the types of wall plate materials?

Most wall plates are made from plastic or metal.

Plastic Wall Plates

Plastic wall plates are often white or off-white, in shades like ivory or light almond. Common types of plastic wall plates include:

  • Thermoset: Rigid, sturdy thermoset plastic wall plates stand the test of time and stay stiff instead of bending. They withstand and resist high operating temperatures, corrosion, and chemicals, and are more durable than thermoplastic. If your environment poses a challenge to certain materials, choose a thermoset wall plate.
  • Nylon: Nylon plastic wall plates’ extra flexibility adds resistance to impacts, abrasion, and fading while withstanding rough use without cracking. Nylon wall plates are ideal for high traffic and high moisture areas, making them virtually unbreakable.
  • Polycarbonate: Thicker than nylon outlet wall plates, polycarbonate plastic wall plates resist fading or warping due to UV light and humidity. This makes polycarbonate wall plates an ideal choice for areas with high moisture and traffic.

Metal Wall Plates

Metal wall plates are often stainless steel, brass, or copper:

  • Stainless Steel: Like plastic wall plates, stainless steel withstands heavy use. The smooth surface makes these wall plates easy to clean. In addition, their round edges prevent wall damage and dust buildup. This protects your wirings from turning into fire hazards. If you want to paint over your wall plate, stainless steel is the way to go.
  • Brass: These wall plates resist corrosion and premature oxidation. They work well with yellow, brown, and cream paint. Brass provides an antique look for restoring older buildings.
  • Copper: Antimicrobial copper wall plates kill bacteria, making these an ideal option for healthcare facilities and schools where bacteria are easily spread.
  • Nickel: This metal also resists corrosion and tarnishing, and creates a sleek, modern look. You may see wall plates with brushed nickel or satin nickel finishes.

Are wall plates a standard size?

Most single-gang or 1-toggle wall plates fit into one of three standardized sizes:

  • Standard: The most common type of plate, this measures 4.5 in. high by 2.75 in. wide.
  • Midsize: Sometimes referred to as Midway, this plate is slightly larger than a standard plate. It measures 4.88 in. high by 3.13 in. wide
  • Jumbo: The largest style of a single-gang wall plate, jumbo plates measure 5.25 in. high by 3.5 in. wide

The openings in the wall plate may be different sizes depending on whether they accommodate dimmers, toggles, or rocker switches.

What are the dimensions of a wall plate?

The dimensions of a wall plate will depend on the number of switches and whether the plate is standard, midsize, or jumbo. Wall plates can be:

  • Single-gang
  • Two-gang
  • Three-gang
  • Four-gang

For spaces that need many different lighting configurations, such as a theater, you may see a custom wall plate with more than four switches. Single-, two-, and three-gang wall plates are the most common options in residential settings.

While midsize and jumbo sizes are also available, the dimensions for standard wall plates are:

  • Single-gang: 4.5 in. high by 2.75 in. wide
  • Two-gang: 4.5 in. high by 4.56 in. wide
  • Three-gang: 4.5 in. high by 6.38 in. wide
  • Four-gang: 4.5 in. high by 8.19 in. wide

Find Wall Plates at HomElectrical

For a trusted supplier of high-quality wall plates, wiring devices, GFCI outlets, and more, turn to HomElectrical. Serving general contractors, electricians, lighting specialists, and even DIY homeowners, we’re proud to stock over 135,000 items. In addition to electrical supply products, HomElectrical carries:

We make it easy to source all the items you need for your next home improvement project, and with fast shipping, you’ll be able to get started quickly.

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