Why You Shouldn’t Paint Electrical Outlets (Do THIS Instead!)


So, you are now ready with your paintbrush and all the paints! You might have already decided which color you should paint on your walls. But wait, that electrical outlet on the wall might be grabbing your attention, right? And seeing that, a question may have come to your mind. Is it okay to paint over electrical outlets?

It is not recommended to paint electrical outlets because the paint can get inside the outlet causing an improper electrical connection between the plugged-in electrical appliance and the electrical source and may even cause a fire hazard. Also, painting electrical outlets is against the NEC code.

However, if you are very much determined to paint electrical outlets then you can do it slightly on the covers that too you have to do it cautiously. Or instead, the other best option would be to buy new electrical outlets that suit well with the background color of your wall. 

Having said that, let’s dive in deeper and talk more about why painting electrical outlets are not recommended, what actually happens when they are painted, the code related to painting electrical outlets, and some other related topics. 

Why You Shouldn't Paint Electrical Outlets (Do THIS Instead!)

Why You Shouldn’t Paint Electrical Outlets?

#1. Outlets Can Get Damaged

Whenever you decide to paint the outlet you are actually increasing the chance of damaging your outlet and here’s why.

It’s fact that you would be using the outlet almost every day, right? Now if you paint the outlet then the dried paint can clog the opening of the outlets. And because of that, you may even tend to insert the plugs into the outlet with force. 

Thus, it may result in damage to the blades of the plug as well as the outlet itself. 

Layers and layers of paint can get built up if your outlet has been painted pretty often before. And as a result, the outlet may become blocked and thus making it actually impossible for you to use the outlet.

Moreover, whenever you would have to paint the outlet you would have to switch off the electricity in order to avoid the risk of a short circuit which can be a hassle for you.

#2. Risk Of Short Circuit & Fire Hazard

It is important to note that dry paint can be conductive. So painting the outlets will increase the chance of fire hazards or electrical short-circuit.

Also, because the paint can get inside of the outlet and thus cause improper electrical connection with the source and appliance you have plugged in.

By the way, have you ever wondered whether light bulbs emit UV rays? If interested, I highly encourage you to read the detailed article where I explain whether or not led light bulbs emit UV rays.

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#3. Problem while doing the Maintenance

Like any other electrical system in our home, outlets will also require maintenance. Now if there is any kind of electrical problem or if you need to check the wiring in which case you would have to replace the outlet.

However, you would be actually damaging your paint job when you try to remove the cover off the wall.

#4. Painting Outlet Doesn’t Really Look Good

Even if we consider from the beauty and aesthetics point of view, please remember that by painting your outlets you aren’t going to make any great decision. 

It is because by painting the outlets if you think that you are visually blending them with the background wall and making them invisible then that’s not the case. 

The outlets aren’t like our walls so they can’t absorb paint properly just as the walls would do. And because of that, you actually end up finding your painted outlet as spotty, uneven, and more visible than you would have thought of.

Also, even if I assume that you have painted the outlets in a very nice way, still, over time you would start seeing the paint chipping or cracking.

Whenever you would plug something into the outlet, there will always remain the chance of the paint getting damaged and getting scratched.

What Happens If Paint Gets In An Outlet?

The main issue is sometimes the paint can get inside the holes of the outlet. So now when you plug any electrical appliance into that outlet, the metal in the appliance might get interrupted. 

It might not be able to maintain a proper clean connection to the electrical source because the paint is in there and it’s causing a gap in the connection.

And what that will do? Well, it will cause it to get heated up, heated up, continually …that ultimately may even give rise to a FIRE HAZARD!

So let’s say that you have an electrical outlet that is already painted and you are thinking that just scraping off the paint from outside will do and you might not want to replace the outlet right away. 

However, that’s not the case and that doesn’t work! The reason for that is because it’s not the paint that is on the outside of the outlet, but the paint that is inside the outlet is actually a concerning issue.

So in short whenever there is a paint in an electrical outlet that outlet has to be completely replaced.

Moreover, if you have tamper-resistant outlets which are nothing but a type of outlet that prevents the children from sticking something into one of the slots and getting burned. 

These tamper-resistant outlets are similar, just like a regular outlet except they have an extra interior cover that gets opened only when we insert two prongs of a plug simultaneously.

You should not paint those types of outlets as well because the paint can stop the operation of tamper-resistant mechanisms from closing properly when we don’t use the outlet.

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Now if you happen to be using the light socket adapters, then you might also like to check out my article on whether or not the light socket adapters are safe.

Should I Paint My Outlet Covers?

As a general rule, it is better to avoid painting the electrical outlet as a whole and instead, buy a new outlet depending on the color you would like.

However, still, if you really want to paint the outlet cover then there are certain things you have to keep in mind.

The first and foremost thing you need to keep in mind is to not paint an outlet cover in place. You should remove it from the wall and keep it on a flat surface.

You can lightly sand the cover, including the edges before you do priming and painting. Doing this will allow the paint to adhere rather than peeling off from the plastic surface.

Remember don’t paint the outlet or switch itself as it can cause electrical malfunctioning.

Is It Against Code To Paint Electrical Outlets?

Yes, it is against the code to paint electrical outlets. In the United States, the National Electrical Code is a regionally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment.

As per the National Electric Code (NEC), you should not contaminate or damage the internal parts of the electrical components such as wiring terminals, busbars, insulators, and other surfaces, using foreign materials such as paints, plasters, cleaners, etc.

Since it is clearly stated in the code, if you don’t follow and paint your outlet then you would end up violating the code.

How To Change Color Of Electrical Outlets?

If you have read until now then you pretty much understood not to paint electrical outlets not only for safety purposes but also to follow the code.

However, although still there is some risk, you can paint the outlet covers. 

  • First, you need to take out the outlet cover. 
  • After removing the outlet cover, you can put it in a piece of a cardboard box. 
  • Remember to clean the cover properly before you apply any paint so that the paint can stick to its surface properly.
  • Then you can apply a primer coat on the cover, apply paint to the cover, and finally apply a varnish which is the finish coat.

Regarding which paints to choose, please try to choose any non-conductive type of paint and avoid metallic or other types of paints that may contain metal flakes.

Alternatively, in order to have outlets covers of different colors, you can even simply replace them by buying a new outlet cover. Moreover, if you decide to change all outlet covers of your home then you can buy new ones in bulk and thus even get the chance of saving money.

Also, you can get a receptacle that will match your outlet cover.

Conclusion

So in short, although you can paint slightly on the electrical outlet covers carefully still, it is not recommended to paint the outlets because of safety reasons and also because it is against the code to do so.

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If you think that your outlet isn’t matching the new paint you just had on your walls, then your best option would be simply to replace the outlets with a new one that actually goes well with the background wall and design.

Yes, I agree that it may cost a bit more work or money to do all such stuff but it would be better instead of covering up your outlet by painting and making it an unsafe thing. 

I hope now you have a clear picture of whether or not you should paint your electrical outlets and what you should do instead.

Now in case, if you are looking for the best-LED light strips, please don’t forget to check out my guide on the top 10 best-LED light strips for your room using which you can illuminate your ceiling, staircases, create backlight for your TV, and do such interior design projects.

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