replacing switches and outlets – a small update with a big impact

I am excited to be a part of the True Value Blog Squad again this year! You guys know I’m nutso about DIY, so partnering with True Value Hardware is a no-brainer for this hardware store junkie.

I am one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Blog Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

I have been busy DIYing my son’s bedroom the past few weeks. It started out bright purple and pretty dirty. So far I’ve painted the baseboards, walls and ceiling, and replaced all the carpet and blinds. Another thing that just had to go were all the light switches and plug outlets. After 13 years, these were dingy, dirty, and had random colors of paint on them.

One of the cheapest and fastest ways to spruce up an old tired home is to swap out all the plug outlets and switches. Whether you are wanting to change from the old almond color to white, or wanting to just freshen up really dirty outlets, having fresh, white, clean outlets and covers will instantly make the room feel brand new.

Before painting I removed all the covers. I didn’t worry about keeping paint off the switches because I knew I would be swapping them out anyway.

I gathered my supplies and tools. True Value has toggle switches and plug outlet 10-packs for less than $6 for the entire box!

You don’t need much to swap out switches and outlets. The only other tool I might recommend are needle nose pliers in case you need to bend the wires.

Before you do any electrical work at all, make sure you flip the breakers for all the power into that room. Often the plugs and switches will be on different breakers so you may have to flip more than one. And, as always, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure, please consult an electrician.

After turning off all power into the room, I started by unscrewing the switch. I like to do one switch or outlet at a time. I’ll admit, I cheat when I swap these out. I just do one wire at a time, removing it from the old outlet and inserting it into the new outlet in the exact same spot that I removed it from. This way there is no chance of me swapping two wires and hooking it up wrong. I do all plug outlets the same way.

Once both switches were swapped out I popped on a new cover and was good to go! This room looks practically brand new now!

Even the plug outlets are pretty. It makes me want to use them more. Haha.

I was able to swap out all the plug outlets and light switches in the room plus add all new cover plates for less than $10. For the entire room! This is probably one of the least expensive ways you can quickly turn an old looking room into a new one. So fresh and clean and such an easy solution.

If only all DIYing were this easy!


I want to share with you a fun contest True Value is running this week! If you participate you will have the opportunity to win a $100 gift card to True Value. Woot! Here are the deets:

True Value Pin to Win

From July 15 – 19, you will have the opportunity to showcase how you keep family heirlooms in the family by creating a Pinterest board on which you will pin images showing family heirlooms and family-related DIY projects. Check out True Value’s example. Here’s how the contest will work:

· Follow TrueValue on Pinterest
· Create a board titled “Keeping it in the Family” to show family heirlooms with pins of your favorite heirlooms or DIY projects that keep valuables in the family
· Email a link of your “Keeping it in the Family” board to
· Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, July 22, 2013

· Five lucky winners will receive a $100 True Value gift card, which can be redeemed at their local participating True Value store or online at

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  1. MarieRoxanne says:

    I find it interesting that you didn’t paint or cover them up with pretty paper before adding the new ones on…. I am disappointed. LOL

  2. I would have expected a DIY blogger to show us how to clean our existing switches and outlets in the name of saving a buck or two. Swapping white fixtures for white fixtures is hardly inspiring. Maybe TrueValue sells batteries and you could show us how to change those too? Seems like that paid relationship isn’t doing your blog any favors. Please get back to being real.

    • Thanks Linda for your support and positive comment. I truly appreciate it. ::Eye roll::

      I was going to do this project with or without True Value’s affiliation. It was on my to-do list from before I even moved into this house. And don’t worry, there will be several more posts about this because I plan on swapping out EVERY SINGLE SWITCH in my entire house.

      Why would I spend so much time scrubbing and cleaning disgusting old switches that are covered in layers of paint and 15 years grime when I can just replace it for a brand new pretty one in WHITE instead of cream for less than a buck?

      The DIY of this post is to show you how EASY it is to switch these out and to not call an electrician. Many people spend hundreds of dollars hiring out for this simple job.

      And I am offended at your comment about my relationship with True Value. I have moved away from all sponsors and affiliates on this blog and True Value is THE ONLY company I work with. I provide original content week in and week out. I hardly ever mention sponsors BECAUSE I PURPOSEFULLY DON’T HAVE ANY. True Value is a great fit for my blog because they are a hardware store and I am a DIYer. You won’t see me posting about bullshit and other products that are irrelevant because I don’t want to post garbage on my blog. Many bloggers post all sorts of crap on their blog to make extra money, but I choose to give up that potential income and not sell out because I want an authentic blog. I can’t believe you would give me crap about working with ONE company who is a perfect fit with what I blog about.

  3. I have been working on a similar project in my condo–only the original switches and outlets are that lovely off white bisque color. My goal was to do it myself and so far there has been only one I couldn’t do myself because the wires were so short!

  4. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This looks a whole lot easier than I imagined. I paid an electrician to change the outlets from almond (or whatever you call that dingy color) to white in our old house. I can clearly see that I was overcharged, but whose fault I’d that (don’t really want the true answer here). HEY!! I heard that!!

    I’m going to change out the outlets and light switches in this house. No more being charged oodles of $$$ for such an easy job. And I’ll be sure to turn off all the breakers. I think I’ll invest in one of those gizmo thingys that tell you if power is going to the outlet.

    I don’t want to decorate the ones I have. That’s a who,e lot of decoupaging or wallpapering switchplate and outlet covers, which is not my idea of a good time; and cleaning them will result in the same crappy color, only a cleaner crappy color. YUK!

    You are awesome, Allison!!!! Hope you are enjoying your summer!!!

  5. I read somewhere that you’re “supposed to” (I guess that means it’s the suggested standard) mount power outlets upside down, so that they don’t resemble smiling faces (which invite little fingers). Obviously it’s not something massively important, just wondered if it was true really. You could integrate it into your renewal of all your outlets, if not for your own home (not sure if small kiddies around) then for others’.

    Nice blog. Ignore the whiners, they just want their own free stuff from “True Value”. It’s not like you droned on about specific brands of switches or anything like that. Two logos on a post is hardly offensive placement.

    • Well thank you Tim! I have not heard about placing outlets upside down. I’ll have to look into that. I think they look so weird that way. lol And thanks for your support about True Value. They really are a great company and I love working with them.

  6. ARGHH I wish I had read this last week before I paid an electrician a fortune to change out all of the old outlets to shiny new rocker switches. In a rental house no less – I just couldn’t stand looking at the old, sad, dirty switches.

  7. And, by the way: SERIOUSLY, you want Allison to post something on how to paint or decoupage or wallpaper the plate covers? Now only does that look very, very tacky and cheap, even if you found a way to tastefully camouflage the plates, the plastic part of the outlet and wall switch would still be that dingy, ugly color.

    And by the way, Allison, I may not want to do every project I see or even care for every project I see on my favorite blogs, but I would never comment in such a rude, distasteful manner as some of these people do. I am certain that you don’t care for or aren’t interested in everyone’s blogging style and blog information either, but I’m sure you would not comment rudely.

    That kind of person usually tries to tell you that he/she is just “being honest,” as if anyone believes that. What is really happening is he/she doesn’t have the skills to disagree or generously offer a suggestion or make a polite request in a classy way, probably because his/her vocabulary and grammar skills are sorely lacking. These people also use “being honest” as a way to hurl insults (How many times have we heard, “I’m just being honest. People can’t handle that”). There are several ways of saying the EXACT SAME thing on the continuim from incredibly rude to excessively polite. It’s sad that they chose the negative, mean end of that continuim rather than the classy, mature end.

    Keep up the fabulous work….and don’t waste your precious time and energy on people that post useless and unnecessary comments!!

    You rock, Allison!!

  8. Late in the game for responding. But the negative comments irritated me and perhaps someone will read this. The article can be very important in many ways other than “new” decor. Many existing outlets are not the same as what is sold now and could use an upgrade. Also, the plastic is not forever, regardless of the manufacturer, it can become brittle causing small fissure cracks unseen as well as obvious cracks, either becomes a hazard. In addition, plugs used on a consistent basis can become worn and allow loose contact to your appliance, extension cords, etc. If you mess with plugs by pushing prongs closer or wider than is their norm to insert, they fall out or won’t go in, check to make sure the outlet has not worn down for complete contact. I have more than my share in an older home for replacement. But you do not have to live in an older home to have degradation, it can happen newer and older.. I believe it is wise to check your outlets, if even on a casual basis . Am not an electrician, one could explain this better, but it is a good practice to be aware of all that goes into your home for working correctly. You don’t have to be a pro, just a wise homeowner. Also, an admission I hate electricity and am waiting for my son to upgrade my plugs.

    I love ACE, my store since a kid hanging around with dad on weekends. They never question why I am looking for something, even an off the wall item. And they always go beyond to find what I’m after or suggestions for resources.

  9. Yes, Yes. yes.. I am sick of my dirty outlets.. glad to see I am not the only one ! Had no idea they were this cheap.. off to the hardware store soon! Been painting and getting new flooring ( at long Last) Doing a happy dance here in Arkansas.. and screw the jokers who do not think replacing them is worth talking about .

  10. Robert Jones says:

    Outlets and switches are a maintenance item and regardless how they look should be replaced periodically and is an easy DIY project. To the person that suggested “cleaning” them to save a few dollars an outlet you are giving bad advice on the Internet and should stop.

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