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How to Install Recessed Lighting

Installing recessed lighting is one of the best ways to update and brighten a room. We added four new recessed lights in the kitchen during the remodel and it made such a difference!

Here’s the before:

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

And the after:

Extend Kitchen Cabinets to the Ceiling

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That picture is totally un-staged and the kitchen is incomplete, but you can really see the difference in lighting!

And the good news?

Once you get the necessary electrical in place, installing the recessed lights is a breeze.

Tools & Supplies

We used existing construction lighting since this was a remodel. Use new construction lighting if you’re in the process of building. I added links to both new and existing construction for your convenience. If you use the lighting from the links above, you’ll need both the housing and the lights.

We found a great deal at Menards on recessed lights from Patriot Lighting (not an affiliate link). They install without the recessed housing and just clamp onto the drywall. I highly recommend them – super easy to wire and install. This tutorial is written specifically for that type since that’s what we used.

Step 1.

Mark the location for the new recessed lighting. The recessed lights will include a template that you can cut out and tape to the ceiling to mark them out. We added four new lights as you can see below.

Make sure to have a licensed electrician add any necessary new electrical for the recessed lighting. TURN OFF all electricity before connecting the new can lights.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

The half-patched hole in the center of the ceiling is where the original kitchen light was located. We patched that up and added the can lighting equally spaced around that section of the ceiling.

Step 2.

Trace the template rounds and cut the drywall with a drywall saw.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

We just used a simple jab saw, but they also make hole saws specifically for installing can lighting. Either one works great.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Step 3.

Remove the back of the recessed light to access the wiring.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Remove one of the knock-out round metal plates. This is where you’ll pull the wires through.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Here’s what it looks like with the whole back removed:

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Insert the Romex connector and attach with a hex nut from the back. The recessed light from Menards does not include the connector, but they’re located in the electrical section and are really cheap.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Step 4.

Once you’ve got the connector in place, pull the new electrical through the connector and tighten it down (just tight enough to hold it in place).

Again, make sure the electrical is turned off before handling any wires.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Another view:

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Step 5.

Wire the new recessed light to the existing electrical.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Once the wires are securely connected, tuck the wires into the box and fasten the fixture.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

Step 6.

Push the drywall flaps up and insert the light into place.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

The flaps on the side are spring loaded and will clamp down onto the ceiling drywall to hold it in place.

How to Install Recessed Lighting

These recessed lights were so quick and easy to install. As I said before, I highly recommend them if you’re planning to add recessed lighting to existing construction. There’s no need to spend much time in the attic and no hassle with finding a stud to attach the housing to.

If you decide to go with standard recessed lights and housings, there’s a great tutorial from Brittany at Pretty Handy Girl.

Extend Kitchen Cabinets to the Ceiling

Last but not least, turn the power back on and try out your new lights!

Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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How to Install Recessed Lighting


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

How did you get the electrical/wiring to each of the new light holes?


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

We ran new wiring and had it inspected and approved by an electrician. You can also just hire an electrician if the wiring isn't already in place.

Jerry Woods

Tuesday 3rd of December 2019

It's good to learn that you should use new construction lighting if you're in the process of building and you want recess lights. My wife and I are wanting to build our first home and she wants to get recess lighting. I'll be sure to tell her to remember to get new construction lighting for the recess lights.

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