FAQ on Installing Recessed Lighting (Pot lights) in Your Home

Lighting upgrades add value to your home. Create a more spacious living area and workspace with recessed lighting in the family room, kitchen, office and basement. These low profile fixtures are affordable and fairly simple to install. Read through the following FAQs on recessed lighting for modern homes to get a better idea of how these fixtures can work well for you.

What Are the Benefits of Recessed Lighting Fixtures?

Modern interior design prizes a minimalist approach, with clean, clear surfaces and bright spaces. Since recessed lighting is installed flush with the ceiling, or less often with the wall surface, it fits in well with modern décor. Small spaces can be well lit without the intrusion of bulbs, covers or shades. And artwork or unique architectural features can be highlighted using this subtle style of lighting.

Recessed lighting can be used to provide a generous amount of light spread across a wide area, all without intruding on the space in any way. Wiring, mounting and trim components are out of sight either above the ceiling or within the wall. This works very well in shorter rooms, like finished basements, and in many types of décor. If you want light, but can’t spare the room for a fixture, recessed styles offer the ideal solution.

How Are Recessed Light Fixtures Mounted?

In new construction recessed light fixtures are mounted securely between the ceiling joists, sometimes termed the floor joists for lower levels. Steel frames attached to the wood joists hold the light fixture in place and provide a path for the wiring. Drywall or ceiling tiles are hung with circular cutouts for the fixture. Trim is connected to the light to cover the gap between ceiling and fixture.

Some recessed lighting is mounted in the top of wall niches, to accent artwork or special pieces. Wood blocking needs to be installed in order to mount the fixture framework, and drywall is installed in the same manner as a standard ceiling.

What is the Best Spacing For Recessed Lighting?

Although the answer varies from contractor to contractor, most agree that all spacing needs to be standardized in the room. Common guidelines recommend leaving 4 feet between 4-inch light fixtures, and 6 feet between 6-inch light fixtures, on an 8-foot high ceiling. If your ceiling heights are greater, you’ll need to install the fixtures closer together to attain the same coverage.

For specific situations, such as task lighting in the kitchen or office, the best spacing varies widely. Create the right amount of light by opting for bulbs in the optimum size.

When accenting wall art, place the recessed lighting fixtures between 12 and 18-inches away from the wall. Be sure to center the bulbs on the artwork or feature. It’s best to have multi-directional light when highlighting sculpture or three-dimensional pieces. Try to shine light onto the item from at least two different directions.

What Kind of Bulbs Can Be Used With Recessed Lighting?

You can find recessed fixtures for almost any type of bulb, from traditional incandescent to CFLs and smaller low voltage halogen lights. Most often the application dictates what type of bulb is best, as opposed to the fixture.

Look for “R” bulbs for exterior applications and in large rooms. These bulbs have a reflective coating applied to the back of the bulb, designed to deliver a greater amount of brightness. Halogens provide white light and a clean illumination for either flood lighting or spot lighting applications.

Are There Circumstances Where Recessed Lighting Should Be Avoided?

Rooms with concrete ceilings cannot use overhead recessed lights, due to the lack of room for the framework. Other ceiling designs, such as ornate stucco, elaborate plaster or those with detailed moldings, are not the best candidates for recessed fixtures. Hanging lights, such as chandeliers or Tiffany-style glass fixtures, work well and highlight the ceiling details properly.

What Are Baffles?

Baffle trim components are used within the fixture to direct the light. Look for black or white baffles and choose a color that provides the desired effect, whether that’s to focus the light or reduce glare. You can also find reflectors in various colors, from metallic hues to colored options.

Other types of trim allow you to install recessed lighting in the shower or outside your home. These trim kits provide a waterproof seal that protects the bulb and wiring.

What Is Wall-Washing Lighting?

Installing recessed light fixtures with asymmetrical lenses allows you to create a wall-washing effect. Basically lighting up a large section of the wall, as opposed to brightening the room, these fixtures are used to highlight artwork and help small spaces appear larger.

Designers and architects know that wall-washing, when done consistently along the entire length of a wall, helps to create the illusion of space by pushing out the walls. Use a row of smaller bulbs or line up a few larger fixtures to achieve this effect and make tighter spaces appear open and roomy.

What Size of Recessed Lighting Fixture Should I Use?

There are three basic sizes of recessed lighting used for residential purposes: 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch. Those measurements represent the diameter of the fixture. Ideal sizes depend on the application and the distances involved.

For lighting most exterior areas and to brighten up rooms that feature a cathedral ceiling, a 6-inch fixture works best. Most typical interior applications call for 4-inch fixtures, although 5-inch may work well over a large area or in the kitchen to provide adequate task lighting.

Recessed lighting offers a variety of benefits for any home. Perfect for new construction, this style of lighting is also possible in renovations and retrofit projects. This list of FAQs covers the basic installation, selection and sizing of recessed lighting fixtures, as well as the various options available for trim and bulbs. Find out why this style of lighting is one of the most popular and consider adding them to your home today.

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