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Painting outlets neatly #70348 10/04/06 01:35 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline OP
OK, most of us have seen outlets that were painted the same color as the wall. They have a hundred layers of paint and it closes the holes for the plug prongs.

Well, When I was working at the paint desk, a lady asked me what type of paint to use to paint an outlet. After telling her several times she shouldn't, I finally gave in because she was wastimg my time.
I told her:
1) Shut off power until the paint dries.
2) Use only 1 coat of primer and 1 coat of paint max.
3) Keep the coats as thin as possible, and keep it as flat as possible (no brush marks)
4) No metallic paint
5) If you change the paint color or repaint, replace the receptacle. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself, contact an electrician.
6) Never paint a GFCI, switch or anything with moving parts, smoke detectors, or anything that gets hot.
7) If possible, look for oulets/plates/etc that fit your color scheme (we have almond, ivory, white, gray, brown, and black devices, and a multitude of plate colors)

As much as I hate painted electrical fixtures, I figured that, in theory, if these rules are followed, there shouldn't bee much problem, especially having an electrician periodically replacing receptacles. Do any of you guys see anything even remotely dangerous here? I asked my manager, and he said it was okay (as far as our store's liability), but then again, he's not an electrician, painter, or insurance expert.

I feel that I was put in a compromising position. By giving this advice, I might have saved a life (say, if someone wants to paint the smoke detector and ends up painting the holes shut and it can't sense smoke), but I may have opened the store up to a potential lawsuit if something goes wrong.

If I didn't give this advice, there's a chance we could be sued, but more of a chance we would win because we told them nothing instead of the wrong thing. The disadvantage is I wouldn't have given the customer vital information, which could lead to possible failure of a device, expecially GFCI's and smokes.

I'm no longer employed there, I got a job paying a little less, but a lot less stressful and closer to home.

So what do you think? good advice? bad advice? anything you would add to the list (I would never take anything off the list). I guess I just need some closure here.

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Re: Painting outlets neatly #70349 10/04/06 02:17 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,498
gfretwell Offline
Remove the plate, mask them with blue tape and paint around them. There is no good way to paint an electrical device like a switch or receptacle.
The best looking paint jobs will include new plates and maybe even new devices.
When folks are fixing up a house to "flip" around here that is one of the first things they do. New (usually Decora) devices under new plates makes the place look fresh, even if the wiring itself is a rat's nest.

Greg Fretwell
Re: Painting outlets neatly #70350 10/04/06 05:38 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
I would have stuck to my guns.... Paint is a bad idea. Although I am often ignored and they do it after I leave....

Try suggesting these:

Here's a funny one though, I showed up as the inspector was walking up to my job, we walk in and find the painter in the act of faux marbling my outlets. The inspector made me replace them all. Said they weren't listed to be painted, the paint could work its way inside, paint is flamable.... Back charge to painter about 6 recepticals... Inspector is back for another inspection and same thing happens, but this time the painter is doing it with magic marker... Painter says , "Well it's not paint..." [Linked Image] He let it fly that time.

Either way I am not sure about the listing end of it, but in general its a bad idea.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Re: Painting outlets neatly #70351 10/04/06 08:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,432
Lostazhell Offline
I just see the look on the face of the guys at Kern Electric Supply right now....

"I need 2 Ochre colored GFI's, and 1 merlot colored dimmer, Oh, and a biscuit decora switch" [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Probably something akin to me placing a medium sized mongoose on the counter [Linked Image]

But back to the point, I've never been a fan of outlets, switches, etc.. being painted even on aesthetics.. The paint gets scratchlines from bad aim with a plug, switches are alot harder to get clean from grubby hands..

I've had many outlets where I've simply had to kill the circuit and nail it with a hammer since the faceplate screw is impossibly lost under 452334 layers of paint, which also has the faceplate stuck to the wall stronger than most industrial adhesives would [Linked Image] Not to mention when you put a new faceplate on, there's a peculiar ring around the outlet the same color the walls were in 1963 [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by Lostazhell (edited 10-04-2006).]

Re: Painting outlets neatly #70352 10/04/06 11:00 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 810
Theelectrikid Offline
since the faceplate screw is impossibly lost under 452334 layers of paint

I always thought it was 452334 squared? [Linked Image]

EDIT: Now that I punch that into the cookulator, they must've repainted quite a bit! 204606047556 = 452334 squared. 13036384.043071 a day since 1963!

Ian A.

[This message has been edited by Theelectrikid (edited 10-04-2006).]

Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Re: Painting outlets neatly #70353 10/05/06 12:25 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline OP
Yeah, now that I think about it, I agree with you guys... I should have stuck to my guns.

Funny story, when I painted my bedroom, I painted the walls a nice green color and the trim is Ivory... I put an outlet plate in the spectrometer to make the perfect shade. I guess I cheated, but my outlet plates go nicely with my paint scheme... not to mention metallic copper (my favorite color!) accents in a few places [Linked Image]

Lowe's sells paintable plates that cover the device... the outlet plates cover duplex outlets and have holes for the prongs... Since it covers the outlet, it's like a spacer between the plug and receptacle... I don't think it's such a good idea... and the ones they have for switches just look awful, so I didn't even mention these.

The worst paint job I've ever seen is someone used a sprayer very liberally. All prong holes were covered and FILLED, and and everything was paint glued together. I was the paint crew's clean up guy (temp job), and I ended up fixing their paint mistakes (the electrician redid the outlets, and pulled alot of paint off). The boss guy paid me $50 extra in advance, and it only took me 2 hours to fix the paint (expert hobby painter here). Pretty sweet, considering it's normally $35/day, but pretty sucky considering the real painters who messed this up made $35/hour on the job.

Re: Painting outlets neatly #70354 10/05/06 12:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 649
winnie Offline
Have you ever seen the "Mr. Bean" (English comedy) episode where he paints a room by setting up a bucket of paint in the center of the room with a large firecracker in the bucket.....


Re: Painting outlets neatly #70355 10/05/06 02:06 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
They did the same thing on Mythbusters... And had footage of the Mr. Bean episode too.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Re: Painting outlets neatly #70356 10/05/06 06:54 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 810
Theelectrikid Offline
That episode was on last night. They had some fun with the explosives.

Ian A.

Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Re: Painting outlets neatly #70357 10/05/06 08:01 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 16
denversparky Offline
I did a service call a a while back. The switched outlet in the bedroom did not work. Opening up the outlets I noticed they were all painted white. What a waste of the remodels time and $$. Can of spray paint $3.00 - white receptacle 45 cents. (Oh I guess they were trying to save money to pay the handyman who miss wired the closet and receptacle switches)

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