How to Install Recessed Lighting in Your Downstairs

When deciding to install recessed lighting in your downstairs, you must first determine the location for each recessed light to be installed. When installing a new recessed fixture in your downstairs ceiling do not pound hard when mounting to the frame, as this creates excess pressure and can crack your drywall on the ceiling. Here is how to install recessed lighting in your downstairs.


Things Needed

Recessed lighting kit



Combination tool

Needle-nose pliers

Wallboard saw


Electrical box

Electrical wire

Wire connectors

Electrical tape


Step 1

Turn off all power to the downstairs.

Step 2

Hold the recessed lighting frame to the downstairs ceiling. Trace around the frame with a pencil. You may find it easier to have a helper hold the light, while you trace around it. Repeat for all recessed lights. If your downstairs ceiling lacks sheetrock, simply clear away the insulation where you will install the recessed lighting fixture. Some recessed light kits do not require you clear the insulation away, and are marked “IC.” This means insulation compatible.

Step 3

Cut out the opening with your wallboard saw and remove the insulation. This is the line you traced on the ceiling. Insulation must be at least six-inches away from the outside of the recessed light to prevent a fire. Secure the frame to the joists in the ceiling with screws and a drill.

Step 4

Insert the armored cable from the canister, into the wire connector box in your downstairs ceiling, and secure it in place with the setscrews located on the connection box.

Step 5

Run electrical wire, from the wall switch, to the wire connector box, and secure it with your cable clamps. Connect the black circuit wire to the black fixture wire, and the white circuit wire to the white fixture wire with the connectors provided in your recessed lighting kit. Screw the cover-plate onto the wire connection box with a screwdriver. Always use the wire connectors included with the recessed lighting kit.

Step 6

Position your recessed lighting canister inside the mounting frame on your downstairs ceiling. Attach the mounting screws or clips—depending upon your recessed lighting kit– to secure the canister in the mounting frame.

Step 7

Attach the reflector and trim that came in your recessed lighting kit.

Step 8

Turn on all power to the downstairs, and test the recessed lighting.



This Old House: Installing Recessed Lights


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