When upgrading your interior design, it’s easy to forget the impact that wall plates can have on your overall aesthetic. These unassuming switch plates and outlet covers may blend into the background of everyday life, but they also contribute greatly to your interior décor by imparting touches of flair that can extend and magnify other design elements. Fortunately, the assortment of cover plates on the market today is astounding. There are hundreds of combinations of materials and configurations in the average wall plate catalog.
While that selection is convenient when looking for a specific configuration or seeking to find unique wall plates to add a finishing touch to a recently remodeled room, it can also be a little overwhelming. If you’re not well versed in wall plates, you may not know how to distinguish between a single-gang or 3-gang switch or a toggle from a Decora switch plate. When you inject the wide array of materials from which wall plates are made into the equation, that even further muddies the water when it comes to selection. Keep reading below to learn everything you need to know about wall plate materials and configurations.
You may assume that one size fits all when it comes to wall plates, but that simply isn’t true. Though it’s true that switch covers are interchangeable, there’s more to selecting the right cover than simply matching up the switch or outlet type and selecting the right gang width. In fact, there are three common wall plate sizes offered today. This includes the standard wall plate, which is 4.5 inches by 2.75 inches. These utilitarian wall plates are common in functional areas that aren’t decorative in nature, or where a wall plate is needed mostly to fulfill the basic function of a cover. Then there are medium wall plates, which are slightly larger by three-eighths of an inch on all sides. They can be helpful where a subtle cover is still desirable, but the larger cover is needed to cover up imperfections that would be visible with a standard size cover. Finally, there are jumbo wall plates that are 5.25 inches by 3.5 inches. These can extend the blemish-covering capability of wall plates even further, and they can also impart a custom look on your design when combined with appropriate materials.
In the past, wall plates came in scant few materials such as plastic, wood, or metals such as brass and steel. Now, however, there are many more materials available, which gives the average homeowner even more diversity when it comes to selecting the perfect wall plates for his or her décor. Wall plates are now made of nylon, steel, chrome, brass, aluminum, plastic, wood, antimicrobial composites, and natural stone. What’s even more impressive is the array of colors and styles that are available. They are found in almost every color of the rainbow and a wide variety of textures. Some are carved or molded into miniature works of art that can adorn your room with detail that will further elevate your design.
As switch and outlet types continue to diversify, the wall plate industry developed a bountiful assortment of wall plates to mirror new switch and outlet designs. In terms of switches, you can find covers that will match a range of dimmer styles, traditional toggle switches, Decora switches, and switch/outlet combos. While in the past most outlets could be covered with the traditional two port wall plate, now there are covers that pair with data ports, 220V outlets, phone ports, and cable ports. It gets even more complicated when you consider that there are configurations that pair two or three of these different switches and outlets together beneath the same plate. The term gang is used to describe the width of the boxes behind the wall plate. For example, a single-gang switch has just one switch in the box. A two-gang switch would have two switches side by side in a double-width box.
While shopping for wall plates online can be confusing due to the sheer number of options at your disposal, you can use this guide to help you understand the selection process. To shop a wide variety of wall plate materials, sizing, and configurations, shop Wallplate Warehouse’s online store.