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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Switch Plate Debacle ~ and How to Fix it!

If you've ever visited our blog, you know that we're usually into painting furniture, like our Gray and Coral Chevron Desk. However, due to our house remodel, I've had the opportunity to reintroduce myself to the fun of painting other surfaces.

Paint or Replace?

Have you ever pushed and strained to get a project done? The final nail is driven. You lay down your hammer, take a breath and wipe the sweat from your forehead. Phew!

Then - HORROR! One of the little details you've wrestled with for months looks terrible to your eye. You decide that maybe you're just too close to the project. Maybe you're just being too critical. Maybe it's just you. Then, your DH, who usually seems a little too happy to leave all those details to you, says, "Hey, do you think those switch covers look a little bad?"


I had just invested time, money...oh, did I mention money (?) in choosing just the right covers. Our last house was built in 1930.  Electricity was a luxury, so the outlets were very sparse.  Replacing them was no big deal. But, in this house, there is at least one outlet on every wall. There are so many switches that we still haven't figured out what some of them are for! Needless to say, replacing the plastic covers for so many switches and outlets was no little feat. And THEN, to have DH notice??

I did replace the ones in the kitchen with antique pewter plates. But now, all of the plates in the adjoining dining area were antique brass. I wouldn't have minded, but the rooms are completely opened up to one another and there are four covers that are less than twelve inches from each other. Ugh! Details!!

I really like the look of the antique pewter with the new tile backsplash.

How to change antique brass to antique pewter?

Frugality wins!

If you've read any of my posts, I'm all about being frugal. And I don't think there's anything that I wouldn't try to paint. Soooooo...what about taking those now mismatched covers and changing their looks? Give 'em a fake tan. Plaster a little barn paint on 'em. Spiff 'em up!

Here goes!  Knowing what I do about paint, I decided that switch plate covers aren't going to get a lot of wear and tear. For that fact, I decided that I wouldn't even prime them.

The Process

The first thing to do was to change the base color.  I grabbed a can of silver spray paint from another project lined up all these little critters and sprayed! The first coat was the Brilliant Silver.

The second coat? I lightly sprayed over the silver with the Krylon. It's a satin indoor metallic called Nickle.

The last spray paint I used was the Rustoleum Hammered Bronze. I held the can so that the nozzle of the can was parallel to the switch cover. Spraying very lightly, the paint landed only on the high spots of the covers.

After the three colors were applied.

See all the little carved out areas? I knew that I wanted to bring attention to them. I mixed up a little black craft paint and water to an inky consistency.

I painted the entire surface of the cover with this paint and then, using paper towels, wiped back most of the black. This leaves the black in the cracks and crevices, and dulls the silver just a touch.

Here is a close up of the antiquing phase. Picture #1 is the cover with the basecoat of spraypaint
Picture #2 - inky black craft paint wash
Picture #3 - Wiped back 

Although the difference between #1 and #3 are subtle, it really does make a big difference! It brings out all the little details and really shows the textures in the cover! And I LOVE textures!

I know, I seems like a LOT of steps to get from the first cover to the last. I just couldn't justify spending more money on covers when I had a style a liked. The color just needed changed. I think the experiment was a success!

The last step was to give a couple of quick coats of satin polyurethane spray to each cover. Overall, this project took about 2 hours, not including drying time. So, for 2 hours, I save my family a whole lot of cash! That's NICE!

Here is a quick view of the covers from antique brass to antique pewter. 

The Result

They are a nice warm antiqued silver, which matches much better than the stark antique brass.

Hopefully, this will help you in some way. Whether it's the spray painting, the antiquing, or just realizing that if you need to change something -- try paint first. After all, it's just paint. It's not permanent. If you don't like it -- paint it again!

If you have any questions about the technique or paints I used in the transformation, please comment. I respond to every comment on my blog, cuz I love comments and I love paint!