Note: The screwdriver, pictured above, contains, both, a philips (+) and flat/standard head; you will need both.
If you're afraid of being shocked, it's better to be safe and go ahead and turn off your breaker. Austin said he got shocked 2-3 times, but it didn't hurt. So... You'll have to decide what's best for you. If I was doing it, I'd turn the breaker off -- I HATE being shocked! If you decide to not turn your breaker off, PLEASE make sure your lights are in the "OFF" position!
On another quick note, I apologize in advance -- I'm sure I'm not using the correct electrical terminology; I'm using layman's terms. Now that you know the necessary materials, and to turn your breaker off, let's get this show on the road.
Step 1: Unscrew and remove current/old plate. (See, isn't that color dated? And it just looks dirty!)
Step 2: Unscrew the actual switch(es) and pull it out so that you can easily access the screws on the side.
Step 3: Unscrew the above (2) screws. The actual screws, themselves, do not come all the way out. You're loosening the wires from the current switch. Once you've done that, you're able to remove the box/switch from the electrical wiring. (Be sure to not touch the copper wiring with your screwdriver, or anything else for that matter, if you did not turn off your breaker; that's how you'll get shocked!)
Step 4: Retrieve your new switch/box; starting with the bottom, you want to attach/hook the electrical wiring to its screw. Once it's hooked, tighten the screw.
Don't worry about this single screw, on the other side. You won't be touching it.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 for the top screw/wire.
The switch should, now, be working. If you turn your breaker back on and flip the switch, you should have power to whatever light this controls.
Step 6: If your box contains 2 switches, like the above, you'll just repeat Step 1-5 to the other switch. The wires look a tad different (this is what the wiring should look like in a box that contains only 1 switch):
As you can see, that bottom wire doesn't loop.
Step 7: Once you've wired the new switch(es), now it's time to screw it back into the wall. Using your screwdriver and the new screws (they come with your new switches), begin screwing the switch into the wall. You don't want to screw it all the way into the wall, just yet. Just get it in enough, so that it's attached. You want to have some flexibility, as they won't be straight, right away.
See how they might not be straight right away? If you can't tell if yours are straight or not, just by looking at them, you'll soon figure it out once you go to attach your new plate. It won't screw on correctly.
It just takes playing with them, a bit, to figure out the right spot.
Step 8: Once the switch(es) is straight, go ahead and tighten your screws by screwing the switch all the way in. Attach your new plate by screwing it on.
After a rather long tutorial, now you know that's all it takes to change out dated, dingy looking light switches! Not only is it easy, it's fairly quick to do, and very inexpensive. You can buy the switches and plates at Home Depot for just a couple of dollars (I'm not sure of the exact cost, only that it's cheap!).
Is this post geared to only the two of us or have any of you been wanting to change out old switches and just not sure how to do it? Please let me know if that has helped you!
On a different subject, I'm going to be switching gears, soon, going from house mode to classroom mode. I've changed positions, again (I can't seem to make up my mind!), so I'll be working on my new room. Once I've made some progress, I'll share that with you all!
Hope you have a great Monday!