Paint gives a plain plastic switch cover the look of metal.

How to Repaint Plastic Switch Covers to Look Like Metal

by Kathy Adams

Plastic light switch covers, whether they've been in place for years or were just recently installed, look a bit, well, plastic. If a metal appearance is more fitting of your idea for the room's decor, fear not -- you won't have to replace those switch covers. Painting them can give them the look of any shade of metal you like, from platinum to silver, bronze or gold. A plastic spray primer ensures that spray paint will adhere to the cover plates; if such a primer isn't used, the paint may peel or chip away, or may not adhere properly.

Place a wide, shallow cardboard box in a well-ventilated work area. If you don't have a box, a sheet of cardboard or newspaper can be used instead. A box provides some protection from overspray for the surrounding area.

Remove the switch cover plates from the walls using a flathead screwdriver. Place all plates and screws in the box or near the work area for easy access.

Sand each cover plate, including the side edges, using a fine-grit sanding block. Sanding scuffs the surface and removes coatings, allowing the primer and paint to adhere better.

Wipe each cover plate and screw head with a gentle household cleaner and a damp sponge to remove dust and to clean away any grime. Allow to dry completely.

Place the switch covers and screws inside the box or atop the cardboard or paper in the work area. If you have a piece of flat shipping foam, press the ends of the screws into the foam for easier painting of the screw heads.

Shake the plastic primer spray can according to manufacturer's recommendations -- usually 30 seconds or more. Apply primer to the fronts and sides of all the switch covers and screw heads using slow, even strokes, holding the can a foot or so away from the objects being primed. Allow primer to dry completely. Apply a second coat if plastic is still visible beneath the primer, allowing it to dry as well.

Shake the spray paint can vigorously, as recommended in the manufacturer's instructions. Apply paint to each cover plate and screw head using smooth, slow arm motions, allowing the paint to dry completely. Apply a second coat, if desired.

Items you will need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wide, shallow cardboard box, or a sheet of cardboard or newspaper
  • Sheet of packing foam (optional)
  • Fine-grit sanding block
  • Household cleaner
  • Damp sponge
  • Plastic spray primer
  • Spray paint in desired metallic color such as platinum or bronze


  • Metallic spray paints are available in specialty finishes as well, such as oil-rubbed bronze or hammered metal, resulting in a more complex appearance.
  • Paint all the switch and outlet covers in a room to match for a more uniform appearance.
  • Apply a coat of polyurethane spray-on sealer for added shine and protection.


  • Always spray paint in a well-ventilated area, wearing a respirator for added protection. Avoid spraying during windy conditions, as overspray may get onto objects you don't want to paint.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images