The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


Sockets and Switches

stainless steel lightswitchThere was a time when all the switches in our home would have to be plain white and plastic. They were the only type available to buy and the only sort which were acceptable. They were seen as something which should fade into the background, hidden by furniture and generally not be seen.

These days sockets and switches have become more of a talking point. Yes, there are still occasions where you will want to hide a socket low on the wall and behind the sofa, but at other times a wall switch can be decorative and add a design element to a room. So what sorts of switches and sockets are available to buy these days and how should they be used?

Sockets and switches come in many different styles. Period, to reflect the age of your home; standard for those who don't want anything which will stand out, interesting and funky new modern designs and various colours to reflect the needs of your room.

Plain white plastic

These are the switches you will see in every home In the country. Designed to be discreet, they blend into the background and will work well when you don't want to detract from the surroundings. Generally they sit flat to the wall. They can also be screw-less to give a smooth finish

Stainless steel or brass

These can come in either a classical period style or a super modern sleek styles. Usually highly polished they will retain their good looks for longer than the standard white ones. Classic styles will often have toggles to give them period charm, but switches are probably more common.


Perfect for creating a country style d├ęcor or for homes where wood is already a feature. Often in oak or pine and highlighted by detailing around the outer edge, they are perfect for a restoration project on a period property.

See-through or painted

It is possible to buy plates which are completely clear. These are great for wall papered areas where the loss of the pattern would affect the look of the wall. Coloured plates are also available. Once again they are designed to blend into the colour of the wall.


These are perfect for use in the bedroom and living areas and can be used successfully on most types of bulbs these days but do check beforehand. A dimmer allows control over the brightness of the light and can also turn the light on and off.

Fitting a new socket or switch

It is quite possible for a DIYer to do this, unless the new fitting is in a wet area such as a kitchen or bathroom. In this case, take advice. Our Electrics how to pages will give a complete run down on how to achieve this.