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

By Jessica Bennett
Updated March 04, 2020
Edmund Barr

Make the most of a small or narrow space with wall sconces. These sleek luminaries provide indirect lighting for bathrooms, hallways, stairways, and other tight spots. Plus, they can add an attractive accent to an otherwise blank wall. For the ideal placement, install wall sconce lighting just above eye level. In bathrooms, it's best to install wall-mounted lighting on both sides of a mirror. A strip of lights over a bathroom mirror or medicine cabinet calls for a similar installation method. Such wall-light 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 should take about three hours to run cable, install a switch, and mount two wall sconces. Before you begin, make sure you know how to strip, splice, and connect wires, how to install electrical boxes, and how to run cable through walls and ceilings. Then follow these step-by-step instructions on how to install wall-mounted lighting.

  • Start to finish 3 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of easy
  • Involves Running Cable, Electrical Skills, Screwing, Stripping Wires, Drilling
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What you need

Tools
Materials
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How to do it

Step 1

Run Cable

Before you begin, shut off power to the circuit. Use a voltage tester to check that the power is off. Mark the area where you plan to place the wall sconce. To cut wall holes for the sconce boxes and light switch, use a utility knife to trace the outline and cut the hole with a drywall saw. Run cable from the power source to the switch, then to the sconces.

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Step 2

Install the Box

Clamp cable to the wall box, tugging gently to make sure the clamp is tight. To install the box, push it into the hole in the wall, enlarging the hole with a utility knife if needed. Tighten the screws until the box is firmly attached. Most wall sconces come with all the necessary hardware for mounting, which is 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. If desired, you can test the power at this point to make sure the light is functional. Remember to turn the power off again before completing installation. 

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Step 4

Attach Wall Sconce

Slip the wall-mount light fixture over the center stud and start to tighten the nut. Stand back and check that the base is plumb, adjusting as needed. Once level, tighten the base.

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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.

Editor's Tip: If you'd prefer to mount lights on a mirror, you have two options. To install a bathroom strip light, center the box over the mirror or medicine cabinet. 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.

Comments (2)

How difficult was this project?
Anonymous
April 1, 2020
Difficulty: Very hard
This seems ridiculously difficult for the average person. How many people, other than electricians, would have these types of skills? I don't want to be sexist, but most women in particular would have a hard time accomplishing this without outside help/training.
Anonymous
April 1, 2020
Difficulty: Very hard
This seems ridiculously difficult for the average person. How many people, other than electricians, would have these types of skills? I don't want to be sexist, but most women in particular would have a hard time accomplishing this without outside help/training.

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