Aussies love to renovate or at least add a few new touches to change the look of old and tired room fixtures. Consider the case for lights. There’s so much variety in terms of designs, shapes, colours, placement and how lights fit the whole room aesthetic. Indoor lighting generally gravitates to ceiling-mounted pendants or wall mounted sconces, besides the other common options like chandeliers, track lights, and recessed downlights. What you use will depend on the size of the room, the brightness that’s to be achieved, and how separate lights work with others to create the ambient you’re after.
Of course, turning lights on or off will be done with a range of different switches. Here too you need to pay attention to different switch types (toggle, push-button, dimmer, and smart switches are the most common), the number of connected circuits or gangs they control, and how all this is installed. Since you won’t want exposed switches and wiring posing a safety threat each time you need the light on or off, simple yet purposeful light switch covers have you (and the switches) covered.
What is the Purpose of a Light Switch Cover?
Electrical hazards caused by unprotected or exposed wiring can be avoided with cover plates. These fit around and over the outlet or light switch and ensure that unwanted accidents like electrocution and nasty burns, or electrical fires are brought to a minimum. Switch covers cut the direct contact with electrical switches and live wires, so ensure your loved ones are out of harm’s way.
This is the main purpose of light switch cover plates. New plates can also be used when decorating or renovating, adding or changing the lights in a room, as well as masking any damage to wall surfaces. The wide selection of light switch covers you’ll see at any hardware of lighting store can be a bit daunting, so choosing what fits the room and the lighting setup is the first place to start.
What to Look for in Light Switch Cover Plates?
Covers differ as to the styles they come in, the materials they’re made of, and in a range of colours and finishes. They also will be different in terms of sizes, and the number of gangs or switches they need to incorporate
As for styles, not all of us pay much attention to how switches and the (matching) cover plate affect the overall look of the wall and room. These minute details though are easy to pick up by the discerning eye. Decorator-style switch covers are the most widespread and have either circular or rectangular cutouts to fit the switch. Combination plates come in many layouts, so besides covering the light switches, they’ll also encase outlets, or have included cutouts for USB charging ports. Blank covers are a neat solution to cover any exposed wiring, and still provide the option of adding lights or outlets further on.
Most switch covers are made of polycarbonate thermoplastic or PCT. This is durable, resistant to heat, and virtually child-proof in that it won’t be tampered with. Metals varieties are also sold, though rarely used for residential applications. Buyers have the choice of stainless steel covers or brass and chrome covers to enhance the look of the switch and lighting fixture, Different textures and polished metals add a nice touch.
Colours and Finishes
Here’s where buyers have all the choices they could ever want. Traditional options range from white, black, and grey, a range of different tones (such as cool gray or off-white), as well as unorthodox colour schemes like gold, silver, nickel, brass, and bronze both in plastic and metal variations. Just ensure that they match the switches. Finishing surfaces are also widespread, ranging from matte or gloss to varieties that accent different textures or cover plate borders.
Sizes and Gangs
These two are often related. The most common cover plates house a single light switch and are the smallest in size. These generally range between 70 to 80mm in width and 100 to 120mm in length. This is for standard covers plates, while hard-to-access places are best served with slim profile plates that are also much narrower. The same standardly-sized housing will incorporate up to 3 switches at a time. This is good news since you can miss and match different types of switches while still retaining the same cover plate size, so you get a clean look overall.
Larger cover plates that need to operate 5 or more gangs can also be seen in the same size (depending on the manufacturer) but usually grown a few millimetres all around. These though won’t be used as often as single or double gang covers. Oversized variants come in handy when concealing wall imperfections or damage. When looking at sizes also consider whether the cover will be mounted horizontally or vertically. This also allows more leeway when experimenting with styles.
Lighting, electrical and hardware stores have a wide range of switch covers to choose from. These come in the same designs as outlet covers, and covers used for data connections. Before buying consider the number of covers you need, the switches that each cover needs to fit, and how the combination of different colours, designs, and materials fit into the interior design of the space.