How to Install Wall-Mounted Lighting

Brighten a narrow hallway, bathroom, or staircase with wall-mounted lighting. We'll show you how to install wall sconces like a pro.

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Make the most of a small or narrow space with wall sconces. These sleek luminaries provide indirect lighting for hallways, bathrooms, stairways, and other tight spots, and work as wall accents. Place them just above eye level.

Install fixtures on both sides of a mirror. A strip of lights over a bathroom mirror or medicine chest calls for a similar method. Such fixtures use low-wattage bulbs to reduce glare while providing plenty of light.To install a wall mounted light, you'll use a ceiling box and wire just as you would for a ceiling light. Most sconces mount with a center stud so you can level the fixture even if the box is not level.

On average, it'll take three hours to run cable, install a switch, and mount two sconces. Before you begin, make sure you're able to strip, splice, and connect wires, install boxes, and run cable through walls and ceilings.

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What You Need

  • Voltage tester
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Fish tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Lineman's pliers
  • Sconce(s)
  • Ceiling boxes and a switch box with clamps
  • Cable
  • Switch
  • Wire nuts
  • Electrician's tape

Step 1: Run Cable

Shut off power to the circuit. Then cut wall holes for the sconce boxes and the switch. Run cable from the power source to the switch, then to the sconces.

Step 2: Install the Box

Clamp cable to a wall box and install the box. Most sconces come with all the necessary hardware—usually a strap with a center stud. The strap also helps carry heat away from the fixture.

Step 3: Wire the Sconce

To wire a sconce, splice the white fixture lead to the white wire and the black lead to the black wire. Connect the grounds.

Step 4: Attach Sconce

Slip the sconce over the center stud and start to tighten the nut. Stand back and check that the base is plumb and then tighten the base.

Step 5: Install Lights and Wire Switch

Install the lightbulb, making sure it does not exceed the manufacturer's recommended wattage. Clip the lens into place. Wire the switch.

Bonus: Mount Lights on a Mirror

To install a bathroom strip light, center the box over the mirror or medicine chest. Attach the fixture over the box, wire the fixture, and attach the cover.

To install a light fixture directly onto a mirror, have a glass supplier cut three holes to match the fixture: a large hole for the electrical box and two smaller holes for mounting screws. Wire the fixture. Apply a thin bead of clear silicone caulk to its back to act as an adhesive. Attach with mounting screws but don't overtighten them—you might break the mirror.

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