DIY Installation of Recessed Lighting in Basement Remodel

It is amazing how incorporating a feature such as recessed lights can transform the entire ambience of a room and set the tone for even more extensive improvements.  The good folks over at fully explored the possibilities when they undertook to transform a dreary, utilitarian finished basement from a cluttered mess to a designer showcase (click here for more basement remodeling ideas).

Formerly the basement in this house was used as a combination office and storage space with lots of bulky shelving and fluorescent lighting.  Useful to be sure, but attractive? Not in the least.

Deciding to give the basement a makeover was a no-brainer for Kathleen, the resident DIYer. There were no intimidating plumbing fixtures to be re-positioned, no walls to be either removed or put up.  The fact that there was already a drop ceiling with existing lighting meant that no heavy electrical work would be required. She need only remove the fluorescent fixtures and replace them with more up to date can lighting and swap out the ceiling tiles.

Even more convincing was the quote the homeowner obtained when contemplating the renovation.  A professional wanted at least $1577 for materials and labor; she was able to do the same job herself for a mere $267!

Here is a list of supplies used:

  • Cerrowire 600v, grounded, jacketed wire 250 ft.
  • 6-in White Recessed Lighting Housing and Trim 6-pack

Here are the tools she needed:

  • Cable Ripper
  • Voltage Tester
  • Coax Cable Stripper
  • Scissors

The first step in this basement remodel was the removal of the existing fluorescent lighting.  This intrepid DIY maven strongly recommends turning off the power at the breaker box when working on ANY electrical fixture.  While she could have turned the lighting off at the switch  that would have left her open to someone in the family coming down to the basement and flipping the lights back on.  She also advises having a voltage tester at hand, even when you  think the power is off.  Put the tester up to a wire; if it lights up, do not touch that wire until you can safely disconnect it from the power source.

It can be a bit tedious to take down fluorescent lighting, but it is not difficult.  Fortunately for those of you who might also have this type of preexisting  lighting in your basement, our heroine gives detailed, step-by-step instructions in her post of the removal illustrated with a wealth of photographs—check it out at the link below!

Once the old lighting was down this DIYer was ready to install the new can lighting.  Because she had a drop ceiling for the old fluorescents, she was able to retain the metal framework and buy recessed lighting packs from her local home improvement center which included connectors to secure the new lights to the existing frame.  Her post is illustrated with photographs of the packs she used and the process required to correctly attach them to the framework and do the wiring, including how to use the tools properly.

After wiring was done, it was time to install the ceiling tiles. She had chosen elegant faux picture frame molding  3D ceiling panels that would fit into her existing framework, most of which could be easily snapped into place.  To prepare the ceiling tiles that needed to accommodate the lights, she used the template included in her lighting packs, drew the opening onto the tile and cut out the circle.  Her lighting packs included spring loaded trim to dress the margin of the tiles around the fixtures, and  its installation completed the project.

Check out the post to see the total transformation of this daylight basement.  It did not stop at the recessed lighting!


Jamie Sandford - Owner and Lead Editor at RenoCompareJamie Sandford is the Chief Editor at RenoCompare (find out more). Jamie has been involved in construction for over 30 years. Straight out of college, Jamie worked with construction crews for the television, film and theatre industries for over 12 years. In his thirties, he turned his attention to DIY decorating and construction, working on many house renovations and remodels. During this time he started to specialize in home flooring and in 2013 he launched the Home Flooring Pros website. Two years later he launched RenoCompare.

“I’ve seen interior design, remodeling, and construction from both sides of the street, contractors on one side and homeowners on the other. My aim is to close the gap between the professionals and the consumers and make it easier for both sides to work smoothly and effectively side by side. At RenoCompare we want to save you time and money by giving you the information you need as simply and as quickly as possible!”

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