Why Professional Painters Remove Switch Plates and Outlet Covers


Professional painters always remove switch plates and outlet covers before the painting of a room because it ensures that the finished paint job will have a clean look. If you want your interior house painting project to look like it was done by a professional, you will want to do the same.

Sure you could spend time wrapping all the switch plates and outlet covers with paper and tape, but you’ll soon discover that masking tape leaves glue behind that is difficult to remove. You’ll also discover that paint tends to glue the plates to the wall, so if you ever have to replace a switch or plug later, you end up messing up your neat paint job.

How to Remove Switch Plates and Outlet Covers

It’s very easy to remove switch plates and outlet covers. You just remove the screw that holds the plate to the switch or outlet and pull the plate away.

We’ve found over the years that those screws are very easy to lose. So we’ve developed the habit of screwing them right back into the switch or outlet we removed them from. If you prefer, you can put all the plates and screws in a plastic zippered bag.

Other Wall Plates You May Encounter

As you go around the room, you may encounter phone jacks, cable TV outlets, DSL connections, etc. You want to unscrew these as well if possible. Often, you can’t remove the cover entirely, but you can tuck the cover into the wall so it’s out of the way.

If you find that there is no way to avoid a dangling cover, cover it with a plastic sandwich bag and tape the bag in place. You can then cut around the outlet opening without getting any paint on it. This only takes a few minutes and makes painting around the openings in the wall much easier.

Reinstalling Switch Plates and Outlet Covers

Allow the interior house paint to dry a few hours before reinstalling the switch plates and outlet covers. Only screw the plates in so they don’t wobble around. Don’t over tighten. The covers could stick to the fresh and soft paint if over tightened.

If you remove all the wall plates and outlet covers, you will find that painting will be easier. And the finished look won’t say an amateur did the work.

2 Responses

  1. I removed the electrical outlet plate on the wall I painted – in which generated electricity PRIOR to removal – yet now I’m having much difficulty getting the plate to fit back on flush; AND ABSOLUTELY NO POWER WILL COME OF IT NOW.
    This is a very necessary outlet in which I’m planning to use for my 55 gallon aquarium and accessories.
    Any help would be MUCH appreciated.
    My trouble-shooting have gotten me nowhere.

    1. Some guesses would be; grounding due to paint dipping onto the outlet, tripped breaker, outlet damaged in some way. The outlet might need replacing. Contact a qualified electrician for the repair.

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