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How to Replace Sheetrock Around Ceiling Fixture

Glenda Taylor

Damage to the drywall on your ceiling can occur anywhere, but when it's near a ceiling fixture, you'll have to remove the fixture before you can replace the drywall. Sheetrock is a common brand of drywall, made by USG Corporation. The procedure used to replace Sheetrock is the same as the procedure used to replace any type of drywall panel. If the damage is the result of a water leak, repair the leak before installing a new drywall.

Remove the Fixture

Remove the fixture before replacing the drywall.
  1. Remove the ceiling fixture. If it's just a vent cover, removing it is as simple as taking out the screws and pulling the cover from the ductwork. But if you're removing a light, there are a few more steps.

  2. Turn on your ceiling light, go to the breaker box and flip off the breaker that serves the light. Return to the room and make sure the light is off before proceeding.

  3. Stand on a sturdy ladder and remove the screws that hold the light fixture in place. If it's a heavy light, you may need an assistant to hold the fixture up while you loosen the screws.

  4. Remove the wire nuts that cover the wires that connect the light fixture to the wires in the ceiling. Pull or gently twist the plastic wire nuts off and untwist the bare wires beneath. Once the light is free from the ceiling wires, replace the wire nuts on the ends of the ceiling wires and tuck the wires up and out of the way.

Cut Out the Damage

  1. Use a stud finder to locate the two ceiling joists that run just outside the damaged Sheetrock.

  2. Drive a small nail into the middle of each ceiling joist above and below the damaged area. You will have four nails that from a rectangular, two above and two below the damaged drywall on either side.

  3. Pop a chalk line from one nail to the next, forming a rectangular line on the ceiling. The rectangle will extend all the way around the damaged section.

  4. Hold a straight edge on the chalk line and cut through the Sheetrock with a sharp utility knife, scoring the face of the drywall at least ¼ inch deep all the way around. Go back and cut all the way through the drywall panel along the scored lines.

  5. Tap the drywall rectangle out if it doesn't come out freely. If it's large, one or more drywall nails may be holding it in place. Remove the nails after the drywall is out.

Install New Drywall

  1. Place the removed rectangle of damaged drywall on top of a new drywall panel and trace around it with a pencil.

  2. Cut along the pencil line and cut out a hole for your fixture and position the new panel into the hole where you took out the old one.

  3. Use drywall screws at the rate of one screw every 8 inches to attach the new panel to the ceiling joists.

  4. Apply drywall joint compound and joint tape to the seams and screw holes. Sand the ceiling and paint it before reinstalling the light fixture.