It probably seems like light switch covers should be pretty simple. Unfortunately, after visiting their local hardware store, many leave confused and frustrated. Luckily, there are some basic guidelines and measurements you can keep in mind to make the process of selecting and buying covers a bit easier. As long as you know what you need and keep the measurements in mind, you should be able to avoid any unnecessary aggravation.
Measurements aren't incredibly helpful if you don't know how the object is being measured. With a table, you need to know which number is the length, width, and height. Otherwise, the same numbers could describe several different tables. The same is true with covers. Luckily, all covers are measured the same way. They're always measured from center to center. This is uniform across the various covers and styles.
As a bonus, all screws for wall plates and devices have the same pitch. However, the head of the screws and length do vary. Sometimes, you can find the covers and screws together as part of a kit. If needed, straps or mounts may be included as well. Most residential covers aren't overly sophisticated, so you should be able to follow the instructions fairly easily. If you're already paying for electrical work to be done, your electrician will probably handle this for you.
A box mount is quite common. This type of cover screws directly into tabs on the box itself. This sort of mount and cover combination is typically used for blank, louvered, cable or other devices. The plate itself effectively functions as a mounting bracket. The screw spacing is 3.25 inches apart. As noted above, this is measured from center to center.
A strap mount is sometimes known as an interchangeable mount. The plate screws into a device strap. The strap is placed between the cover and the plate. These are commonly used on covers for Decora, Despard, and other strap mounted plates. The screw holes are 3.812 inches when measured from center to center.
Device mounts are pretty versatile, so you'll find them in many homes and offices. With a device mount, the plate screws directly into holes on the device itself. This is fairly common for toggle switches, single outlets, lamp holders, or rotary dimmers. Rotary dimmers are quite popular, and toggle switches are found practically everywhere. Device mount switch plates have screw holes that are a standard 2-3/8 inches apart.
Blank aluminum covers are used frequently, especially if a switch hasn't been installed yet or other work is being done. Sometimes they're simply used to prevent the interior wiring from being exposed. These blank covers have standard measurements of 6-3/8 inches tall x 4-1/2 inches wide. They feature two screw holes that are spaced 4 inches apart.
Yes, doorbells generally have their own distinct covers, although they may not be winning any beauty contests. They tend to be fairly plain. The screw spacing is 4.5 inches. This is fairly uniform across all models and brands. Finding a stock doorbell cover shouldn't be difficult.
Intercom covers tend to be slightly larger but also blank and plain. They feature a standardized 6.625-inch screw spread. You can buy them online, and they're pretty painless to install.
As you can see, switch plates aren't intimidating at all. Once you understand the measurements, they're a piece of cake. Contact Wallplate Warehouse at 888-643-3744 if you have any questions or would like to learn about their collection of plates and covers.