Wall switches and outlet cover plates cover switches and outlets on walls and also those built into furniture, such as kitchen islands or other types of cabinetry. There are a few types of switch and plate covers, including:
- Toggle wall switch plates for switches that flip up and down
- Rocker wall switch plates, with a large rectangular opening, work with rocker, dimmer, slide, and tap switches
- Outlet cover plates
- Combination switch and outlet cover plates (for example a toggle switch and outlet or a toggle and rocker switch)
- Ganged wall switch and outlet cover plates (to cover two, three, or four switches or outlets in a row)
What is a Wall Switch/Outlet Cover Plate?
A wall switch or outlet cover plate is a cover plate used to conceal a wall switch or an electrical outlet.
There are single and ganged switches and outlet cover plates that also protect USB ports and other data jacks located directly on the wall or other surfaces.
Switches and wall outlet cover plates are screwed onto the wall and come in three general sizes:
- Preferred (also known as midsize or midway)
- Oversized (also called jumbo)
Standard Size for Single and Two-Gang Switch/Outlet
Typically, standard-size wall switches and outlet cover plates are used for new construction where construction tolerances are tighter.
The standard size single switch or outlet cover plate is nominally 2.75 inches wide by 4.5 inches tall. The standard size two-gang switch or outlet cover plate measures 4.56 inches wide by 4.5 inches tall.
Preferred and Oversized
In situations where drywall workmanship may have created by accident or necessity a large gap between the electrical box and the drywall, or in cases where removal of a prior switch or outlet cover plate leaves an old paint line, then a preferred or oversized switch or outlet cover plate works well. Use of a larger switch or outlet cover plate can save time and effort in non-standard applications where you would otherwise have to patch, sand, and/or repaint the wall around an outlet or switch to use a standard plate.
- The preferred (midsize/midway) single-size switch and outlet cover plate is nominally 3.13 inches wide by 4.88 inches tall.
- The preferred (midsize/midway) two-gang switch and outlet cover plate measures 4.94 inches wide by 4.88 inches tall.
- The larger single oversized (jumbo) switch and outlet cover plate is nominally 3.5 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall.
- The larger two-gang oversized (jumbo) switch and outlet cover plate measures 5.31 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall.
Different Cover Plate Options
Replacing dingy, dirty, or older cover plates can immediately upgrade a room. Cover plates come in two main material categories: thermoplastic and decorative.
A thermoplastic cover plate is common and affordable, especially when you need them for your entire home; they come in multipacks, too. Thermoplastic cover plates are made of durable nylon that won't typically crack. They typically come in standard colors such as white, beige, black, and other neutral colors.
Decorative cover plates can be more costly. They come in numerous materials, finishes, and edgings to match your decor, including:
- Brushed nickel
- Customizable (plastic with a sleeve to insert coordinating wallpaper/fabric)
- Stainless steel
Vintage push-button light switch cover plates still exist, though mostly in older homes. You'll find them in some home improvement stores or retailers specializing in antique home goods.