How to Install Flush-Mounted Lights

Give your home a new look with little effort. Flush-mounted lights take about 30 minutes to install.

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Replacing a ceiling fixture is simple. The old fixture's hardware often can be reused, and the new fixture usually comes with the necessary hardware. 

Before you begin, compare the wattage of the new fixture with the old one to be sure it provides the amount of light you want. Choose a fixture with a canopy large enough to cover any imperfections in the ceiling or use a medallion. Also check for faulty wires. Wires in a ceiling box may contain cracked or brittle insulation due to overheating. Repair these before installing a new fixture. Ground the new fixture if possible. If it is being installed in a metal box, connect the fixture ground lead to the box and to the house ground wire. Check local building codes.

You'll need roughly 30 minutes to remove a flush-mounted light fixture and install a replacement—so long as there are no problems with the hardware. To prep for the project, spread a drop cloth on the floor below; then set up a stable, nonconductive ladder.

How to Choose a Light Fixture

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What You Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Strippers
  • Side cutters
  • Voltage tester
  • Ladder
  • Replacement fixture
  • Wire nuts (the ones that come with the fixture may be too small)
  • Electrician's tape

Step 1: Shut Off Power and Remove Fixture

Shut off power to the circuit. Open the fixture. Remove the nut or screws holding the fixture to the box and pull the fixture down. Remove the wire nuts and check for power in the box. Pull the leads off the house wires and remove the fixture.

Step 2: Attach New Strap

If the existing mounting hardware does not fit the new fixture or if it doesn't have a grounding screw, remove it and attach a new strap to the box.

Step 3: Connect Wires

Support a heavy fixture with a wire coat hanger while you work. Connect the ground wire. Splice the white lead to white wire and black to black. Wrap the wire nuts with electrician's tape. The insulation may be in your way, but don't remove it; it's a safety feature.

Step 4: Tighten Screws

Fold the wires up into the box. Start one mounting screw, then the other, then tighten them. If the fixture has keyhole-shape screw holes, attach the screws to the box; slip the fixture over the large holes. Rotate the canopy so the screws fit into the smaller slots and tighten the screws.

Step 5: Attach Globe

The setscrews that hold the globe may already be in the base or may have to be installed. Push the globe to raise the lip above all the setscrews, then hand-tighten all the setscrews evenly.

Bonus: Add a Ceiling Medallion

If the new canopy is not large enough to cover holes or unpainted portions of the ceiling or if you simply want to add a decorative touch, purchase a medallion. Hold it against the ceiling while you wire the fixture. Before tightening the canopy see that the medallion is centered.

How to Install a Ceiling Medallion

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