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Quick Instructions: How To Cover Switch Plates with Fabric or Paper

Five Minutes to Fab - How to Quickly Cover Light Switch Plates With Wallpaper, Decorative Papers or Fabric

By Kyle McKeown Mansfield


Quickly create stunning switchplates with professional-looking details using these no-mess instructions and easy-to-follow photos. This fast and fun craft is a great way to add style and color to any room. Here's how to get started:


Supplies Needed: Double-lined adhesive paper, decorative papers or photos, plain light switchplate cover, scissors, Xacto knife or small boxcutter. A metal switchplate with straight edges is recommended because it provides a rigid surface that will not flex; straight sides provide a crisp edge for folding and covering corners. Avoid plates with a rounded surface or curved edges as these are more difficult to work with and may cause the paper to wrinkle.


Step 1: Cut Paper to Size- Trim a piece of decorative paper roughly 3/4" larger in each direction than the switchplate you intend to cover. Cut a similarly-sized sheet of double lined adhesive paper.


Step 2: Peel Off Liner - Slowly peel the first liner off the adhesive sheet and lay sticky-side up on hard surface. (Pulling the liner from the adhesive sheet too quickly can cause wrinkling. Best to watch that it is cleanly and smoothly pulling away with no stretching.) Repeat for removing second liner from back of decorative paper: Working from one corner, lay the paper on the tape and rub surface back and forth pressing it into the adhesive paper while forcing out any wrinkles or bubbles.


Step 3: Press Switch Plate into Adhesive - Place paper adhesive-side up on work surface. Place switchplate onto sticky paper and press. Flip switch plate over and gently rub paper from to center to outside edges of wall plate cover to get a smooth, even surface. Work your way across the surface until the paper is fully attached.


Step 4: Cut Corners and Center - Using the Xacto knife or boxcutter, make a diagonal cut out from each outside corner, cutting in slightly behind switchplate - this is where the paper will slightly overlap when folded back. For the centers, cut an "X" in the center opening for a toggle switch. If working on an outlet, making more cross cuts (like cutting a pizza) will create a smoother edge when folded to the back. On a large Decora style opening, you may need an extra cut at the corners as well - any area with a slightly rounded edge will require more cuts so that smaller sections can be folded back.


Step 5: Fold Over Edges - Working from the back of the switch plate, fold decorative paper from back on two opposite outside edges and press into place. They will stick immediately. Next, press two remaining sides over and into place.


Step 6: Trim Corners - Using scissors, trim back corners at the edges of the two sides pressed into place.


Step 7: Finishing Step - Press remaining two sides up against edges of plate, slightly overlapping corners on the front. Cut back paper at a slight angle from corners and press into place, making sure you have crisp, smooth edges with no gaps or wrinkles.

Step 8: Open Screw Holes - Working from the front of the switch plate, cut a tiny "X" at the screw holes with the Xacto knife. Then, using a pen or pencil, push the hole open. The conical shape of the pen will neatly press the paper into place. That's it! You're done!

Easy Craft for Kids - Kids can easily create their own decorative papers for a switchplate. Just give them an outline, lightly marking the locations of edges, openings and screw holes, and have them color it in with their own scene or pattern.

tip.jpgTip: Spray Varnish - Optionally spray the finished plate later with varnish if you wish to protect the surface.

tip.jpgTip: Paper Choices - Precut origami paper is often the perfect size for single and double switchplates. Packages of beautiful papers can usually be found at arts and crafts supply stores. Photographs (or photocopies of them), magazine pages and other scrapbooking papers also work well.

tip.jpgTip: Embellishments - Once the switchplate is covered with one sheet of paper, you can easily add other elements to embellish the plate further. Decoupage the surface with additional photos, thin stripes of paper or with die cuts using more varnish. You can easily add rhinestones along edges or in pretty clusters to create instant sparkle. Add a fringed border of beads along the bottom for an even fancier look.

This outlet and wallpapered outlet cover look great on this wallpaper accent wall:

Wallpapered Outlet Cover

Next: Tutorial for Painting Switch Plates

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