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Metal vs. Plastic Switch Plates - What's the Difference?

Metal vs Plastic Switch Plates

When it comes to value, metal light switch covers have the clear advantage. Although every light switch plate manufacturer creates wall covers with their own styling, plates typically coordinate and are interchangeable with products from other companies. Differences between wall plates are often very slight and generally go unnoticed at a normal viewing distance.

Why Metal Switch Plates?      Your Best Value!

Same Look • Better Quality • More Sizes & Colors • Similar Price • Safe & Reliable

Plastic vs Metal Switchplates

Comparison Photo The photo contains a white metal and a white plastic switch plate. Can you tell which is which?

Plastic Wall Plates vs. Metal Switch Plates - What are the Differences? There is virtually no difference between the aesthetic look of plastic and metal wall plates so you can easily mix and match with your current plastic plates. The real difference comes in how they wear over time. Find out more below.

Size Variation

Are Plastic & Metal Plates the Same Size? The industry standard size for a single gang wall plate is 4.5" high by 2.75" wide. Many manufacturers also offer specialty sizes - jumbo, oversized, midi, tall, mid size, wide or maxi which may vary in size per brand.

Finishes Match Over Time

Matching Look While there are dozens of switchplate manufacturers, metal and plastic wall plates are generally designed to coordinate for a uniform look throughout your home. Wall plates were originally manufactured in metal, with plastic switch plates produced later to match.

Plastic Covers Can Crack

Safety When you over-tighten a screw on a plastic switch plate, the cover can crack.

For your safety, choose metal switch plates. They won't crack or break off exposing internal wiring. They are your most durable and reliable choice. 

Value of Quality Covers

Uniformity  Our American-made metal switch plates have been produced for over 50 years. They won't change color over time so you can be confident any later additions will match. Most cheap plastic plates discolor over time, so even buying the same brand and style will not guarantee a perfect match. In addition, older switchplates may no longer be produced because of changing styles or production methods. 

Value  The majority of our light switch plates, whether metal or plastic, are made in the USA for superior quality and value.

Advantages of Metal Wall Plate Covers

Kyle Switch Plates specializes in metal light switch wall plates. Why should you choose metal over plastic switch plates? Here are some good reasons to consider:

More Sizes in Metal

More Sizes: Metal cover plates come in the widest range of sizes, configurations, depths and widths. Plastic, ceramic, wood or mirrored glass wall plates generally come in a very limited number of sizes with no options for getting other sizes. Kyle Switch Plates stocks over 500 sizes that are ready to ship, including oversized, narrow, old-fashioned, or deep variations. We custom make many unusual sizes that you'll find exclusively here.

More Finishes Available

More Finishes: Our light switchplates and outlet covers are available in twenty different metals for all your finishing needs. The photo shows the range and variety that metal light switch wall plates are available in.

Electrical Supplies Made in USA

Durability: Metal switchplates won't crack, peel or discolor over time. Furthermore, solid metal face plates will not bow or distort when installed.

Plastic light switch covers can warp and pinch your electrical devices. 

Plastic Faceplates Not Durable

High-End Look: You get what you pay for! Plastic plates (like the one shown here) scratch easily and absorb grime, making them more difficult to keep fresh and clean than quality metal faceplates.

They have a high gloss finish that looks cheap, in contrast to metal finishes, which have a smooth, semi-gloss baked enamel finish that's perfect for both satin or gloss devices.

With metal, you get a high-end look and a quality plate that will never need to be replaced.

Plastic Plates Collect Dust

Depth: Metal wall plates are lower profile than plastic wallplates which must have added bulk to support their shape. Metal covers have smooth beveled edges that are angled all the way back to the wall.

The thicker edges of plastic plates create a little ledge that collects dust and dirt along the top edges.

Quality Face Plates Made of Metal

Attractiveness: Metal switch plates have a beauty, weight and surface quality that you won't find in plastics.

Sound: Metal switch plates have a solid sound to them as opposed to the thin, hollow, cheap resonance of plastic plates.

In-Stock Plates Ship Fast

Excellent Resource: Our wide selection of sizes and metal finishes makes us an excellent resource for builders, contractors, electricians, home remodelers and owners of older homes in need of repair. Because we keep so many plates in stock for fast shipping, you can get the plate you need in time to meet a deadline, finish a job, or pass inspection.

Recycle Old Metal Covers

Go Green: Kyle Switch Plates' light switch covers are made of steel, brass, bronze or copper and can be recycled when no longer needed. Simply take to your nearest metal recycling center or scrap metal buyers.

Electrical Supplies Made in USA

Made in USA: Our metal switch plates are made right here in the U.S.A. (except for copper plates.) So when you buy our metal plates online, you are helping to support American businesses and keeping jobs here in America.

Custom Switch Plates

Custom Options: If we don't carry the odd, rare or hard-to-find size you need, we can get you a quote to make one, even a customized plate for specialized equipment. So when you need to make changes to your home wiring or have a challenging construction job, you can rest assured that you will be able to get the switch plate size you need.

Custom Switch Plates

Paintable: Metal switch plates can easily be primed and painted to match your walls.

Disadvantages of Screwless Covers

Screwless Covers

Screwless covers are more expensive and come in only 6 sizes (1 - 6 gang decorator) making it harder to add new sizes in the future if you update your lighting.

The top cover on screw-less wall plates can be easily removed so are more likely to be lost. 

Screwless Switch Covers Collect More Dust

Thick sharper edges are knuckle busters when reaching quickly for the light switch (especially in the dark).

The flat top ledge is much larger than a metal plate with screws. This ledge collects dirt and dust.

2 Piece Screwless Switch Plates

They are more complicated to install because they come in two parts (the screw-less cover plus the sub-plate it snaps into). 

If the subplate is painted over, it becomes very difficult to remove. It may tear or damage the wall if you ever need to remove the plate to access the devices or change out the cover completely.

Screwless Covers Have Seams

Lutron's line of screwless wall plates have sub-plates with the same dimensions as the pop-on covers. The result is a visible seam around the plate's edges.

Metal Light Switch Plates in All Sizes and Shapes

Kyle Switch Plates stocks a wide range of light switch wall plate metal finishes, shapes and sizes. If you're looking for an odd size lightswitch plate, or better quality & pricing, then metal wall switch plates are your best bet. They will coordinately nicely with most plastic wall plates while adding value to your home.

Article copyright Kyle Switch Plates 2011. If you enjoyed this article, please do not copy it but instead link to it. Thank you, Kyle

Next: Some finishes are similar - see our Almond vs. Ivory Electrical Device Comparison to be sure you order the correct finish.


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