How to Paint Alcohol Inks on Switch Plates and Outlet Covers

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Add a Super Cool Pop of Color to Your Home Decor with these Decorative Switch Plates and Outlet Covers painted with Alcohol Ink

This may have been my alltime favorite craft project so far! I had so much fun making these colorful switch plates and now I am going to show you how easy it is to paint your home’s outlet covers with vibrant Adirondack Alcohol Inks by Tim Holtz.

Last fall, I decided to repaint my entire house. Big job but I was sick and tired of the ‘builder beige’ walls so it was totally worth it!

Now, my soft gray walls with fresh white trim look so much better. While I love my walls, I did notice they needed a little something…. some pop of color. So, I thought … why not try painting the outlets and switch plates?

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In the past, I have decorated my light switches with fabric and wallpaper but this time I wanted something a little different. Something more modern and cool. And then I ran across the Adirondack Ranger Alcohol Inks!

Plain white switch covers are just so boring and dull, aren’t they? And we can’t get rid of them so why not do something fun? And while I love supporting my local artist community, I could not afford to buy custom, artist painted or ceramic covers for the whole house.

Switch Plates and Outlet Covers painted with Alcohol Inks
Outlet Covers painted with Adirondack Alcohol Ink by Tim Holtz

What are Alcohol Inks?

If I understand it correctly, Alcohol Inks are a blend of pigment and a form of rubbing alcohol with a consistency of watercolor paints. The colors are translucent and very fast drying.

Alcohol Inks are especially designed to work on hard surfaces such as metal and glass however, they can also me used on canvas and paper.

When I discovered alcohol inks at Michaels, I couldn’t wait to try them out and I absolutely fell in love with the unique watercolor effects you can achieve.

Plus, they are super easy even for beginners to use. So, let me show you how to add a pop of color to your home switches.

Related: Look how I made Alcohol Ink Christmas Ornaments
Related: You may like DIY Glass Garden Art Totem


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Alcohol Ink Supplies:

Ranger Alcohol Inks by Tim Holtz

blank outlet covers, Ranger alcohol ink, paint brushes and rubbing alcohol

Prep the Outlet Covers and Switch Plates:

Cover your table with a plastic table cloth. Trust me, you don’t want alcohol inks on your table.

The first thing you want to do is give your switch plates a good cleaning. Any fingerprints or stains can keep the inks from adhering to them.

Next, pour about 1/2 cup or so of rubbing alcohol in your disposable cup. ow, place one of your outlet covers on the piece of paper and open all of your bottles of alcohol ink. This paint dries very quickly so I have found it is best to go ahead and open all of the bottles ahead of time.

Apply the Alcohol Inks:

There are many different ways to use alcohol inks, this is just what I did:

Dip your paint brush in the rubbing alcohol and completely cover one of the switch plates or outlet covers. Make sure it’s totally wet.

Now, drip some alcohol ink onto the rubbing alcohol and watch it flow. You can move the ink around with a brush or blow it with the straw.

Drip Alcohol ink on the light switch covers,

Add more colors … Don’t forget the edges and the tops of the screws.

Add second color of alcohol ink

Add more alcohol ink

Seal the Painted Outlet Covers:

Let your switch plates dry overnight. Now, carefully carry the plates outside (on the paper) and spray them with a thin coat of acrylic sealer. Hold the can of spray as far away as you can.

The pressure from the spray will move the dried inks a little bit but the paint will blend back together before it dries. Wait the recommended time on the spray and add a second coat.

Let dry completely and you’re ready to install your beautiful DIY switch plates.

Seal the alcohol ink on the plate covers

DIY Switch Plate Covers,


Don’t you just love the bright colors? Why live with plain, ugly light switch covers when you can have little works of art instead? I get compliments on my light switch covers all the time.

They are so lively and colorful on my neutral gray walls without being overpowering or gawdy.

Now that you know how to use alcohol inks, why not paint some fun and funky coasters? Great Gift idea! Just make sure to use an extra strong sealer if the piece will get used a lot.

My switch plates have held up amazingly well. The only one showing some scratches is the outlet we use to charge our cell phones all the time. The rest of the switches and outlets are not showing any wear at all.

Here is a super cool video of Tim Holtz demonstrating how to use his alcohol inks:

Check out my Alcohol Ink Christmas Ornaments!


Painted Outlet Covers and Switch Plates

Related Home Decor Articles

How to Make a Glass Garden Totem
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Switch Plates and Outlet Covers painted with Alcohol Inks
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  1. Cynthia Nye says

    Very pretty. Instead of spray acrylic to seal, could clear poly be used? I’m thinking of a different application.

  2. Barb Larson says

    Beautiful, and I have a day off. I already have everything I need, I’ll be doing these this afternoon. Thanks!

  3. Toni Barnett says

    A project I can do with my grandson! He’s quite artistic and would really enjoy creating something functional like this. And I would like to make a trivet using a large square ceramic tile.

  4. Lovely. What color inks did you use for the 3 switch plate and its 1 switch plate companion? Thanks.

    • Hi there,
      Those were done with Sunshine Yellow, Sunset Orange, the dark blue and teal (I can’t find the specific name of those colors) and I believe some of the dark brown. All of mine were done with Adirondack Alcohol Ink brand.

  5. Rita O'Neil says

    I accidentally ordered Dr.Ph.Martin India ink, will this work or am I out of luck? Ty

    • I’ve never heard of those but I checked out the description and it says they work on almost all surfaces. Looks like they should work fine. Give em a tray and let me know how it turned out.
      Happy Friday 🙂

  6. Roslyn Banks says

    Thank you for your tips and tutorial. I’ve done the ceramic tiles and ready to do some plates. I’m not a “painter” but I’m enjoying the designs I’m making using alcohol inks.


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