Installing Recessed Lighting in an Existing Ceiling

2-4 hours

Want functional, out of the way lighting that’s big on ambiance? Try recessed lights.

Recessed lights are an effective option for both new construction and remodeling if you’re looking for lighting that’s functional but “hidden” in the ceiling. This project guide details the installation process.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

1
Cut hole in ceiling: Option A
Cut hole in ceiling -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Use a stud finder to make sure the holes do not overlap a joist.
• Use the template provided with the light to draw a circle on the ceiling.
• Cut the hole with a drywall saw, and mark all light locations.
• Make sure you do not snag any wires that may be in the ceiling cavity.

2
Cut the hole in ceiling: Option B
Cut hole in ceiling -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Use a stud finder to make sure the holes do not overlap a joist.
• Cut the hole with a drill with a hole-cutting attachment, and mark all light locations.
• Make sure you do not snag any wires that may be in the ceiling cavity.

3
Rough-in the wiring
Rough-in wiring -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Run cable from the power source to a switch box, and then to the first hole, allowing at least 16 inches of extra cable to make wiring easy.
• Use a drill with a long drill bit to avoid cutting additional access holes that will need patching later.

4
Wire the light
Wire the light -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Open the light’s junction box.
• Run cable into the box and clamp it.
• Strip insulation and make wire splices, black to black, white to white, and ground to ground.
• Fold the wires into the box and replace the cover.

5
Mount the light
Mount the light -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Most models cans have four clips that clamp the can to the ceiling by pushing down on top of the drywall.
• Pull the clips in so they do not protrude outside the can.
• Slip the can’s box into the hole, and then push the can body up into the hole until its flange is tight to the ceiling.
• With your thumb, push each clip up and outward until it clicks and clamps the light fixture.

6
Add the trim
Add the trim -  Recessed Lighting an Existing Ceiling

• Most trims are mounted with coil springs or squeezable rod springs. If you have coil springs, hook each spring to its assigned hole inside the can.
• Pull out each spring and hook it to the trim, and then carefully guide the trim into position.
• If you have rod springs, squeeze and insert both ends of each spring into their assigned holes.
• Push the trim up into position.