Preparing a Room for Painting Part 2: Switch Plates and Plug Plates

If you’ve gotten your project room cleared of furniture, all you should have left to remove are the things most people don’t want to. Namely, switchplates and plug plates, window coverings, and air registers.

These are permanent items on your walls and ceilings. But if you don’t uninstall them, they are sure to get paint on them.  No matter how careful you are.

Switchplates are the easiest fixtures to remove.  But be aware:  those little screws have specific homes that they need to go back to when you are done with your painting.  

There are several types of screws that hold your plates to the walls.  More modern plates have very short colored screws that match the color of the switch or electrical plug.  Older traditional plates have longer colored matching screws.  


Some plates (cable, telephone and utility plates) will be longer yet, and may have shiney, metal heads. Be sure to bag similar screws together as you remove them, and keep the corresponding plates in the same bag with their screws if it is possible.  

Once the plates are all safely removed from the walls, you will want to cover each plug and switch on the walls with tape, so that you don’t paint over them with your roller or brush.  Usually a piece of 1 ½ “ tape, about 2” long, will be perfect to keep each electrical plug and light switch safe from a wayward paint roller. 

Some plates will not be removable.  Computers, telephones or faxes which cannot be turned off are examples.  Most of the time, you can at least remove the screws holding them tight to the wall, and gently pull the plate away from the wall.  These plates can now be carefully taped, so you can paint in the wall surface behind the plate. 

Next time: Preparing a Room for Painting Part 3: Removing Window Coverings

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