We will buy them based on our interior themes to make them look super cool when it comes to wall plates. Decorative wall plates are there for this particular reason. Keeping the aesthetic factor aside, do you know that these wall plates are used for safety reasons? They are used to protect people from coming in contact with exposed areas of electrical supply, like cables, switches, etc. We don’t usually pay much attention to these wall plates until we replace the device or consider painting our rooms.
So, yeah, wall plates aren’t there to sit and look pretty. They protect you from shock, fire, electrical short circuits, etc. Most wall plates are fire and water-resistant and therefore won’t let any accidents happen even if you touch the lights with moist hands. But wait, just because they are water-proof doesn’t warrant touching the switches or outlets with wet hands as it’s way too dangerous. A broken or cracked wall plate may raise the risk if not fixed, and hence you need to pay attention to it all the more.
Okay, enough of that info; you have possibly clicked this article because you wanted to know more about wall plates, right? So, here is your guide to wall plates described.
Wall Plate Configurations/ Types
Take a look at the types of wall plates:
- Switch: Plates for switches. They come with a single toggle switch mainly.
- Outlet: Accommodates a single or double outlet.
- Blank: Used for covering additional and unused wall boxes.
- Combination: Features a combination of switches and outlets
- Sectional: Used for multi-gang installations. Can be customized to match the configuration.
- Phone Cable: For data cable, TV cable, or Phone cable connections.
- Power Outlet: These are mainly used for kitchen ranges, washers, dryers, etc.
- Decora®: Decora and Decora Plus are used with Decora devices.
Wall Plate Materials
Let’s talk about the materials used to craft these wall plates. Wall switch plates, outlets are available in quite a few materials to withstand usage patterns and user pressure. Below are given some examples:
Plastic wall plates are suitable for most household applications. They are designed to resist sparks, fading, discoloration, water, etc. In addition, wall plates made of plastic are usually cheaper than other materials and can last quite a long time.
Polycarbonate Thermoplastic (PCT)
Unlike plastic plates, thermoplastic wall plates are made with solid heat resistance. They also don’t fade that readily, even after being exposed to light for longer. As a result, thermoplastics are replacing plastics as they are more reliable and work great for residential and commercial spaces.
You won’t see metal wall plates much in residential or commercial spaces because plates like that are used in basements, workshops, warehouses, etc. Metal wall plates are made for heavy usage with rounded corners to help prevent any form of injury. They are easy to clean as well. Metal wall plates come in a variety of metals forms such as stainless steel, brushed brass, aluminum, polished brass, etc.
Antimicrobial Treated Wall plates
Another kind of wall plate is the antimicrobial wall plate. As the name suggests, the wall plates have antimicrobial properties that reduce the growth of bacteria and other germs. These wall plates are made of polyurethane coating embedded with a silver ion additive. This polyurethane coating hinders the growth of fungi, mildew, and mold. Wall plates like these are primarily used in hospitals, schools, healthcare, food service, etc.
Wall Plate Sizes
Now that we have a basic idea of what most wall plates are, it will be helpful to know the size of the wall plates. This can help you determine the perfect wall plate for your next purchase. There are mainly 3 types of sizes available: Standard, Midway & Jumbo. If you use multi-gang installations, simply add 1.81” (46.00mm) to the length of the wall plate for each additional gang. By the way, if you don’t know what gang is in terms of wall plates, read below to know about them.
Standard: Standard sizes are popular and frequently used in houses for switches and outlets. Here’s a list of standard wall plate sizes with gangs:
- For One Gang: 4.50″ H x 2.76″ L
- For Two Gangs: 4.50″ H x 4.57″ L
- For Three Gangs: 4.50″ H x 6.38″ L
- For Four Gangs: 4.50″ H x 8.19″ L
Midway: Midways are slightly larger on all sides compared to the standard ones. The larger sides help cover wall imperfections. Here’s a list of midway wall plate sizes with gangs:
- For One Gang: 4.88″ H x 3.11″ L
- For Two Gangs: 4.88″ H x 4.92″ L
- For Three Gangs: 4.88″ H x 6.77″ L
- For Four Gangs: 4.88″ H x 8.58″ L
Jumbo: Jumbo sizes are larger and have more spaces on all sides compared to midways. They help cover more significant and larger wall imperfections. Here’s a list of jumbo wall plate sizes with gangs:
- For One Gang: 5.51″ H x 3.50″ L
- For Two Gangs: 5.51″ H x 5.51″ L
- For Three Gangs: 5.51″ H x 7.48″ L
- For Four Gangs: 5.51″ H x 8.75″ L
Number of Gangs
It can be a little complex to understand the concept of gangs is in terms of wall plates and sizes. This is used as jargon for wall plates. The “number of gangs” term is used to describe wall plate covers. While discussing the gang numbers, it refers to an individual electrical component in a wall box. In short, the term gang is used to discuss different styles of wall plate covers regardless of size, materials, or colors.
To make things easier for you, a 1-gang switch plate is needed for a single switch. If you need a switch plate for 3 switches, you will need 3-gang plates. For 2 receptacles, you would require a 2-gang outlet cover and so on.
Hope this has explained and helped you understand what wall plates are and a couple of important things about them. In case you desperately need wall plates online, don’t forget to check our collections of light switch wall plates and outlets from Electrical Supply Depot. We will be back with yet another helpful topic soon, till then take care!