How to Replace Recessed Lighting With a Different Sized Hole

Replacing recessed lights to add a different look and feel to your ceiling sometimes requires different sized holes.
Ideally you want fixtures that use the same hole you currently have in the ceiling. Unfortunately the lights you like are often either larger or smaller. Replacing recessed lighting with different sized holes requires either cutting the hole larger or rebuilding the hole and cutting a new one. Once you have the holes sized correctly, install the new fixtures according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 1

Turn off the power to the recessed lights. Turn on the light switch to ensure the power is off to the lights. If you have attic access to the light fixture junction boxes, go into the attic and check for voltage with a voltage tester.

Step 2

Remove the trim from the recessed lighting. Some fixtures have screws requiring a screwdriver for removal, while others simply twist or pull off the ceiling. Remove the bulb from the current fixture.

Step 3

Disassemble the recessed light fixture from the ceiling. If you have access to the attic, disconnect the wires at the junction box and remove the fixture from the mounting supports with a screwdriver. If you do not have attic access, pull the fixture through the ceiling and disconnect the wires at the wire nuts once they are visible. Refer to the instructions that come with the original lights for specifics if possible.

Step 4

Place the opening of the new recessed lighting fixture over the existing hole, if the fixture is larger than the existing hole. Center the fixture over the hole and trace around it with a pencil. Cut the hole to the tracing with a drywall saw.

Step 5

Position a piece of notebook paper over the hole, if the new fixture is smaller than the existing hole. Make a tracing of the hole onto the paper with a pencil. You are able to see the outline of the hole through the paper.

Step 6

Put the paper on a piece of scrap drywall and draw the tracing onto the drywall. Cut the tracing on the drywall with a hole saw.

Step 7

Cut two pieces of 1-by-2-inch board slightly larger than the circumference of the original hole with a circular saw. Place a board inside the hole in the ceiling with at least a 1/2 inch of the side of the board visible in the hole. Repeat for the opposite side of the hole. Measure between the visible sides of the board with a tape measure to ensure there is enough room for the new fixture.

Step 8

Drive two 2-inch drywall screws through the ceiling and into the boards. Place the cut out drywall hole into the hole in the ceiling. Drive a drywall screw through the hole and into the part of the board that overlaps the hole. Repeat for the opposite side.

Step 9

Apply drywall mud to the seam between the new piece of drywall and the ceiling with a putty knife. Tape over the mud with drywall tape and add another layer of mud. Allow the mud to dry and sand it smooth with a sanding block.

Step 10

Place the new fixture opening over the center of the new piece of ceiling drywall and trace the outline. Cut the new hole with the drywall saw. Install the recessed light fixtures according to the instructions that come with the fixtures. Paint the ceiling around the patch with the same color as the rest of the ceiling.

Things You Will Need

  • Voltage tester
  • Screwdriver
  • Drywall saw
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Scrap drywall
  • 2-inch drywall screws
  • Pre-mixed drywall mud
  • Putty knife
  • Drywall tape
  • Sanding block
  • Paint
  • Paint brush

Tip

  • Premixed drywall mud is available at home improvement centers in small tubs.

About the Author

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.