How to Install Wall Light Fixtures


Wall lighting fixtures provided added illumination as well as a decorative touch to any room. There are no building codes specifying the required height at which these light fixtures should be installed, but the general practice is to install them three-fourths of the way up a wall. If you are mounting them in a room with an 8-foot ceiling, the wall lighting fixture should be installed 5 to 6 feet above the finished floor. Here are the steps to guide you in mounting your fixture. But first, make sure you have the following items handy:

  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Plastic wire nuts
  • Long-nose pliers
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 1-inch spade bit
  • Electronic stud finder
  • Noncontact voltage tester
  • Remodeling (“old work”) lighting outlet box
  • 3/8-inch, battery-powered drill-driver
  • Portable electric jigsaw or a keyhole saw
  • 12/2 with ground Romex cable
  • Light fixture


Step #1:

With a pencil, mark the spot on the wall where you want your wall light fixture to be mounted. Make sure that the spot is halfway between two adjacent wall studs. Use an electronic stud finder to check this.


Step #2:

Hold the front of the remodeling box against the wall and use a pencil to draw around it. Then draw a second circle about half an inch inside the first circle. Drill a 3/8-inch starter hole just touching the inner edge of the smaller circle. Use a jigsaw or keyhole saw to finish removing the cutout.


Step #3:

Drill one 1-inch hole through the top plate into the wall space where the lighting outlet box will be mounted, the top horizontal two-by-four which is accessible from the attic or from the attic crawlspace. Then drill another 1-inch hole into the wall space where the room’s light switch is located.


Step #4:

Switch off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the light switch that you will be connecting your wires to. Check to make sure you have turned off the right breaker with the use of the noncontact voltage tester. The voltage tester will remain silent if the circuit is safe to work on.


Step #5:

Insert a 12/2 long ground Romex cable from the lighting outlet box cutout up into the attic, through the top-plate, then down into the switch box. Cut the cable so that it extends about 6 to 8 inches from the front of the switch box and 10 to 12 inches from the wall cutout.



Step #6:

Insert the end of the cable into one of the openings in the lighting outlet box. It should extend 6 to 8 inches from the front of the box. Push the box into the cutout then fasten the wing-securing screws onto the box.


Step #7:

With the utility knife, remove the cable’s outer jacket. Then remove 3/4 inch of insulation from the black and the white wires using wire strippers.


Step #8:

Connect the black, white and bare fixture wires to their matching circuit wires. Hold the stripped ends of each pair of wires side by side then screw on a wire nut.


Step #9:

Secure the light fixture onto the lighting outlet box. Use the hardware that came with the light fixture.


Step #10:

Loosen the screw and slip the wire off to remove the black wire from the top of the switch. Then cut off the loop and strip off 3/4 inches of insulation.


Step #11:

Cut a black wire about 6-inches long then strip 3/4 inches of insulation from each end to form a pigtail wire. Connect the two black wires and the pigtail wire together using a wire nut. Form a loop in the open end of the pigtail wire then attach it to the top terminal screw on the switch.


Step #12:

Remove the wire nut from the original white wires inside the box. Attach your white wire to them using the wire nut. Connect the new bare ground wire with the two existing ones in the same manner.


Step #13:

Reinstall the switch inside the box then turn the circuit breaker back on.


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