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Can you put a blank plate over an outlet?

Covering an unused electrical outlet with a blank plate is a common practice in many homes and offices. An outlet cover, often called a wall plate, is a thin piece of plastic or metal that screws onto the outlet to conceal the receptacle and terminal screws when not in use. Using blank plates for unused outlets can provide aesthetic benefits and safety advantages. However, some key factors should be considered when using blank plates to cover outlets.

Reasons to Use Blank Plates on Outlets

There are a few primary reasons why homeowners and electricians will use blank plates to cover unused electrical outlets:

Improved Appearance

Exposed outlets with no cover plate can make a room look cluttered and unfinished. Covering unused outlets with blank plates creates a cleaner, more streamlined look. The plates come in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing them to seamlessly blend in with any wall décor and color scheme. This small upgrade can contribute to a more polished, upscale aesthetic throughout a home.

Increased Safety

Unused outlets pose potential safety risks, especially in homes with small children. Curious kids may accidentally insert objects into the receptacles and get injured or shocked. Installing blank plates provides an effective barrier over live terminals, preventing access to the outlet wiring. This helps protect against electrical shocks, burns, and fire hazards.

Energy Efficiency

Exposed outlets allow airflow between the interior and exterior of the wall. This can lead to heat loss in colder months. Covering unused outlets with blank plates seals off the outlet opening, preventing drafts and keeping more heat inside the home. Properly sealing and insulating outlets helps reduce energy costs.

Dust and Debris Protection

Over time, uncovered outlets can collect dust, dirt, spiders, and other debris. Blank outlet covers form a protective seal, keeping the receptacle clean and preventing buildup of particulate matter. This helps maintain proper outlet function and extend the outlet’s lifespan.

Safety Considerations for Blanks Plates

Although blank plates offer advantages, certain safety protocols should still be followed:

Use Proper Plate Size

Blank plates are available in different designs meant for specific outlet configurations. Using a plate that is too small will leave exposed sections of live terminal screws. Be sure to get appropriately sized plates that completely cover the outlet.

Install Securely

Loose plates can detach and expose the uncovered outlet. Use the proper length screws to fully secure the blank plate in place. Periodically check plates for tightness. Consider screw-less snap-on plates for quicker installation.

Don’t Use on Circuit Breakers

While blank plates can safely cover receptacles, they should not be used on circuit breakers. Breakers require ventilation and access for switching on/off. Use breaker filler plate covers instead.

Don’t Cover with Tape or Paper

Avoid using makeshift materials like tape, paper, stickers, or foam as they can detach over time. Use UL-approved blank outlet cover plates made for electrical systems.

Locate Properly

Do not install blank plates over outlets located in hazardous wet areas around sinks or exterior areas exposed to moisture. Use weatherproof covers instead.

Installation Guide

Installing a blank plate is a simple project most homeowners can tackle in just a few minutes:

Materials Needed

– Blank outlet cover plate
– Phillips or slotted screwdriver
– Optional: Screws for plate (often included with new plates)


1. Turn off the circuit breaker supplying power to the outlet at the main electrical panel. Verify power is off by plugging in a tester or lamp.

2. Remove any existing outlet cover plate using a screwdriver. Unscrew and remove old screws and outlet cover.

3. Clean outlet area of any dirt or debris with a dry cloth. Ensure outlet box edges are free of any flaking paint or plaster.

4. Position new blank plate over the outlet box opening. Push any excess wiring back into box to allow plate to sit flush to the wall surface.

5. Insert screws through plate holes and into pre-drilled screw holes on outlet box. Use supplied screws or the original existing outlet screws.

6. Tighten screw securely using a screwdriver. Do not overtighten. The plate should lie flat against the wall with no gaps.

7. Turn circuit breaker back on and test that outlet is fully covered and secure. Add any finishing touches like painted designs.

Key Takeaways

– Blank plates provide decorative, safety and efficiency benefits when used to cover unused electrical outlets.
– Properly sized UL-approved plates should be securely installed over outlets.
– Improvised materials like tape or foam should never substitute for blank plates.
– Outlets located in wet, exterior or high-voltage areas require special weatherproof or high-voltage plates.
– With proper materials and safe installation, blank plates effectively seal off unused receptacles.


Installing blank cover plates to conceal unused electrical outlets is common practice for many homeowners and electricians. When used appropriately, blank plates can make outlets safer and more visually appealing. However, care should be taken to use properly rated plates for the application and ensure they are secured tightly over the receptacle. With safe installation and the right materials, blank plates present an easy upgrade option for effectively covering unused outlets in a home or office space.

Type of Outlet Plate Typical Use Cases
Blank plate Covering unused standard receptacle outlets
Weatherproof plate Outdoor outlets exposed to moisture
Raised or insulated plate Outlets located on basement or garage walls
Decorative/stylized plate Accenting outlets in visible locations
Combo A/V & outlet plate Covering outlets with multiple ports like A/V
Plate Material Attributes
Plastic Low cost, durable, various colors
Metal Sturdy, screws tighten better, prone to rusting
Weatherproof plastic Water and UV resistant, impact resistant
Glass Stylish, decorative, prone to breaking