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What Is the Difference Between Plastic and Metal Switchplates?

Chrome Finished Wallplate

Most homes have plastic switch plates installed in their homes. This is a default material used by builders because it's inexpensive and easy to buy in bulk. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best option. Metal offers many advantages over plastic screwless wall plates. Keep reading to learn the critical differences between these two materials.


The most significant advantage that metal switch plates offer over plastic is their durability. While switch plates don't experience too much wear and tear, they can be cracked under certain circumstances. Most commonly, plastic switch plates will crack if you screw them on too tight. They can also be cracked if something strikes them with enough force—such as the corner of a bookshelf that you're trying to move or a child's toy that's been thrown during a tantrum.

Additionally, plastic will wear out over time, becoming more brittle and even turning a sickly shade of yellow. This makes it easier to break them with even a slight amount of force, and they don't look as nice when their color begins to change like this. Metal switch plates will last for decades without becoming discolored, and they're nearly impossible to break.


Perhaps the one area in which metal switch plates have a disadvantage is in their prices. A standard plastic switch plate can often be purchased for under $1 at many hardware stores. Metal switch plates (depending on the size and the exact material you choose) can cost you several times. This is to be expected when purchasing a higher-quality, more durable product. But for those on a tight budget, metal may not be the best option for this reason.


While plastic can come in many colors, it doesn't have too many different finishes—basically, just that shiny plastic finish. Metal comes in many different types and finishes. You can get a polished mirror finish in a pale shade of chrome or a darker, rusted shade of copper with a matte finish. This gives you more options to find a switch plate that matches the room's overall style instead of just the ability to match paint colors.

Unfinished Wood Accent Plate


While plastic doesn't necessarily "look cheap"—after all, it's familiar enough that nobody will think twice about you having plastic switch plates—it doesn't exactly look very stylish either. Metal wall plates do more than blend into the wall; they add their own sense of style and a touch of class to a room. They're simply a higher quality, and that quality is visible with just a glance.

Now that you know the critical differences between metal and plastic switch plates, you're ready to take a closer comparison of all your options. There are still many choices out there in both of these categories, so be sure to look at our complete website catalog to see all of our options for wall plates décor online.

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