MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM SWITCH PLATES

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Introduction: MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM SWITCH PLATES

This instructable will teach you how to apply cool images of your choice to your electrical switchplates.

My wife and I like to have cool switch plates in our house. And usually we buy them from stores, or ebay. Recently we saw one that we really liked for our hallway project, but it cost $34.99!!! At that point I figured I was going to take matters in my own hands and make my own. Since then, I have made several of these for our own home and for gifts. What I have done is essentially backward engineer how to decorate these plates; they are very nice but perhaps not as polished as the truly professional ones. But this is an easy project that you can complete in just 3 or 4 hours, must of which is time waiting for the glue to dry.

Things you need to make this instructable:

1) An image, you can use an existing image on paper or you can print it yourself
2) A switch plate, new or used, metal or plastic, doesn't matter
3) A pair of scissors to cut the paper
4) A bottle of Mod-Podge, $7 at any craft store or ebay, you will need less than an ounce
5) A brush, sponge-type or regular bristle
6) Utility knife

Step 1: Step1

Start with a brand new or used switch plate; keep the screws handy, you may want to paint them to match.

Obtain a piece of suitable artwork that you might like. If you find it online, tweak it in an imaging program like Photoshop, or MS Paint until you get a size that works with your plate.
Plain copy paper works great for this project, but thin glossy paper is fine too. Thicker paper may work but you may need to soak it in water until it relaxes. If you print your image, a LASER printer is ideal, an inkjet printer will work, but the quality may be inferior (especially when it comes to the long term). I will show you examples of plates done with both. I would let images that you print yourself at least a few hours to dry before you proceed with the project.

Step 2: Step 2

Hold your plate and your image up to a light, find a good spot for the holes to fit in the picture, remove any excess of paper, you will need about half an inch of margin to fold around the back of the plate.

Step 3: Step3

Using your brush spread a generous coat of Mod Podge on the face and rear margins of the plate. By the way, Mod Podge is something akin to Elmers glue, it is water soluble and very forgiving, it goes on white, but it dries clear.

Also brush on a coat of Mod Podge on the back of the artwork and then apply the image onto the plate. Use an overhead light again to see the alignment of the holes. Once youre happy with the placement, fold the image around the plate. Dont worry too much at this point to check for bubbles under the paper.

Step 4: Step 4

Turn the plate around and carefully fold the image and cut off excess paper in the corner of the folds. Coat the rear of the plate with a nice thick coat of Mod Podge.

Step 5: Step 5

Turn the plate around so you can see the front. Apply a nice thick coat of Mod Podge all over the surface. Once the image is covered, use your fingers and slide them over the surface of the image and work out any bubbles of air below. Use the brush again and smooth the coat of Mod Podge. Perfection is not necessary, Mod Podge is very forgiving and you can touch up during the second coat. Dont manipulate the image too much and work quickly so the Mod Podge doesnt start drying on you.

Step 6: Step 6

Let the plate dry for about 2 hours, you can cover the brush with plastic wrap to keep the Mod Podge wet until the next coat, otherwise it will dry out. You could always wash the brush between coats.

Step 7: Step 7

Once the first coat is dry, hold your plate up to the light and cut the screw holes. The screw holes work fine with just a little stab of the knife. For the switch hole, cut an X from corner to corner. That way you can fold the image around the hole for a more polished look.

Step 8: Step 8

Turn the plate around and goop up the folds from the image center on to the back. As the paper absorbs the glue, it will remain stuck to the back. Turn the plate and apply a second coat to the front.

Step 9: Step 9

Let the plate dry for another two hours or overnight (to be safe). Depending on the situation, you may want to paint the screws in a color that blends in with the image. In this example, I aligned the screws in such a way that one screw would be completely white and the other black. The black one I painted with a Sharpie (nail polish or any other paint would work fine too).

Step 10: Step 10

Mount on your wall and SWITCH ON THE POWER OF THE FORCE!

I include a picture of the plate from the instructable (laser-printed), another plate done with an inkjet printed image, and another one from a calendar of vintage Spanish posters.

I've also experimented with using postal stamps! Which is pretty cool, no need to print anything.

Have fun!

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26 Comments

Well, nice work... But I'm going to have to report you to Red Sox Nation! God have mercy! ;)

Just found this ible but it's cool! I think the modpodge would adhere a little better to a wood plate.

On the Mod Podge packaging, it says a second coat can be applied after 20 minutes. Is this okay, or should I wait 2 hours?

2 replies

You may be able to get way with doing it in half an hour or so. But in my experience it came out smoother when the first coat was really dry. I was doing this in a room at around 68-69 degrees, if your place is warmer, that may speed up the drying process. Good luck!

Thanks. I waited to be safe. It came out great. I have an ink jet printer, and I can see what you mean about the reduced quality. Regardless, it still looks great and wasn't too hard to pull off. Great ible.

oh my god, this is the perfect thing to put in my death fortress(shakes fist in fury) with my starwars bedspread and collectables, next to my giant chewy. now all i need is to lose my virginity and move out of my moms basment, QQ

4 replies

Depending on the order in which you achieve your goals, you may either- A. Lose "it" and find yourself with no place to live.
Or- B. Find a place to live and then find it much easier to attract a mate.
Worse case- It is barely possible to get married before you move out (even if you live at grandmas' house), but it's very difficult.

Just a thought....

hey, at least you don't have to pay rent while living at home :)

Whoa! Baby steps brother, baby steps!


Yeah I just hand made a switch cover that was really easy! I bought some stuff from Michaels and just painted on designs. Lots of fun and cheaper than trying to order some... I found some on Decorative Switch Plates .com But they were to expensive for me. 

I've seen this done on toilet seats too! lol

this was funny i did the troper thing in 10 min then i made alot of them took me about 3 hous but it was worth it then i glued them to my dads 2009 naked girls calender and my dad was like wtf and my mom said why did u put those things on one heads of the naked girls and my mom gaved the calender to me and she put it in my room i was like wow aka im 15 i already got laid and my mom said she dosnt care i can get laid when i want to and she bought me condoms that was funny

Neat. I'm not sure I would make a Star Wars Storm Trooper switch plate, but I have a couple of old calendars from 2008 and earlier with big color pictures.

That's a good idea! That would also work with some other project ideas! Thanks!

Have you tried using a clear coat of some sort to get your glossy look? I like it. Great image choice, too. My little brother is a huge Star Wars fan, this would be a great afternoon project for us to do.