Can You Paint Electrical Outlets Safely? (Pros, Cons + Warnings!)

When redecorating a room, few people consider changing the electrical outlets. But changing the color, style, or pattern of an electrical outlet can be just the thing to pull a room together.

Especially if the standard bright shiny white doesn’t quite go with your color scheme.

But can you paint electric outlets? Yes, you can. However you need to be super careful as it can be a fire hazard...

Before you take your roller and run it straight over the outlet, there are a few important things you need to know for your own safety.

As the last thing you want to do is injure yourself in the process.

BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY ACTION: Some electrical outlets can become a fire hazard just by being painted. So it’s worth consulting a professional first.

So, here’s our guide to correctly, and safely, painting electrical outlets....

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Safety Measures Before Painting Electric Outlets

Before we get into how exactly you can paint electrical outlets, there are a few safety considerations to take first.

One thing that will be mentioned later in the guides (but is important so we’re putting it here too) is that you must make sure that paint never enters the outlet itself.

Paint, especially wet paint, can severely damage the electronics of an outlet. They can even be a potential fire hazard.

So, when you’re painting the electrical outlet, make sure that you unscrew it from the wall first.

If the outlet is large and boxy and is attached to the wall, then you need to call an electrician for some guidance. 

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS: Do not spray paint directly onto the electrical outlet on the wall. And do not paint it while it is on the wall. Make sure to use a primer and a non-flammable paint.

BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY ACTION: Some electrical outlets can become a fire hazard just by being painted. So it’s worth consulting a professional first.

An electrical outlet that's been painted over

Ways of Painting an Electrical Outlet

There are two different types of paint that you can use for an electrical outlet. Because it will be either plastic or metal.

So you’re going to need specific paint that can be used on plastic or metal.

One option is spray paint. Spray paint comes in a huge variety of colors and is relatively inexpensive. It is also one of the easiest options to choose from. It will be quick and easy to apply.

(But don’t worry, you won’t be spraying any of the paint across your freshly painted walls. We’ll get to the process later). 

Another option is tinned paint. If you have ever painted a wall and accidentally splashed paint on the electrical outlet, then you will know that normal wall paint can be applied to plastic.

But, although you can use wall paint, you will need to do some extra prep. 

Option 1: Spray Painting Electrical Outlets

This is by far the easiest option. But, as you surely know, spray paint can be very messy. So you need to make sure you have space to work.

Step One: Set Up

The first thing to do is make sure you have everything covered.

Lay out a piece of protective plastic, an old sheet, or some cardboard or newspaper.

Step Two: Unscrew the Outlet

This is an important step. We have already mentioned this. But you must never spray paint directly onto the outlet. Some people do this and say it is fine.

But paint and electricity can be a fire hazard. So it isn’t worth the risk. Once you have unscrewed the outlet, place it face-up on your work surface.

Step Three: Paint

Now, it’s time to paint. Hold the can about 5 inches away from the outlet and give it a light spray. Depending on the color you have chosen, you will likely need a few layers.

Make sure to leave the paint to dry between each layer.

Step Four: Replace

Once the paint has completely dried, you can reattach it to the wall. 

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Option 2: Painting Electrical Outlets with Wall Paint

Painting electrical outlets with wall paint is very similar to spray painting.

But there are a few extra steps. 

Step One: Set Up

Set up your space in the same way as in Step One for spray painting.

Step Two: Unscrew the Outlet

Removing the outlet from the wall is just as important with wall paint as with spray paint.

Perhaps even more so wall paint is more likely to drip. 

Step Three: Clean

With wall paint, you will need a special plastic paint primer. But, before applying anything, you need to give the outlet a wipe down before applying anything.

Outlets gather a lot of dust and dirt. So use a dry cloth to carefully wipe off any dust.

Step Four: Prime

Now it’s time to apply the primer. Apply a single layer of a specific plastic paint primer. Leave it to dry. And then apply a second coat.

Step Five: Paint

Once the primer has dried, you can start painting. You will likely need a few coats of paint. So just keep applying layers and leaving it to dry in between coats.

Eventually, you will reach the depth and shade that you’re looking for. 

Step Six: Reattach 

Once the paint has completely dried, you can reattach the outlets to the wall. 

Top Tips For Painting Electrical Outlets

Now you know the best ways to paint an electrical outlet, here are some tips that will help you to do it perfectly.

  • BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY ACTION: Some electrical outlets can become a fire hazard just by being painted. So it’s worth consulting a professional first.
  • AND REMEMBER: Certainly don't paint directly onto the socket whilst it's attached to wall!
  • Apply a thin coat. As the outlet will likely be used regularly, there is a chance that the paint will chip off. This is much less likely to happen if you apply thin layers of paint.

  • If it won’t come off the wall, leave it alone. If you can’t find a way to safely unscrew the outlet, then it’s important to leave it alone. You don’t want to risk an electric shock.

  • Use a premade cover. If you can’t remove the outlet, or if you’re concerned about paint getting inside, there are many companies that will make covers for your outlet. This is a much safer and easier (and less messy) option.

  • Clean the outlet. Whichever method you choose, you should wipe the outlet down first with a dry cloth. This will help the paint stick. And it might even help you to skip painting altogether. Who knows, the outlet might be looking shabby just because it needed a good clean.

Last update on 2021-08-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API