How to Hang Drywall Over Recessed Lighting

More and more homeowners are undertaking the task of installing a drywall ceiling in their basements.

This is a little more complicated than installing drywall on a wall because you will need to work around lighting and electrical boxes. However, if you know how to use a tape measure, you can easily accomplish this. The most important point to remember is to measure and cut the drywall as close to exact as possible.

Measure from the edge of a hung piece of drywall in the front and on the side of the recessed light fixture. Write down the measurements for both the near and far edges of the light fixture from both measuring points.

Mark these measurements on the drywall you will be hanging. Use a straight edge to draw lines down and across from these measurements. You will end up with a square.

Draw an "X" through the square, using a straight edge, to locate the center point. Hammer a nail through the center point to make a hole. Remove the nail.

Place the center of a circle cutter on the hole. Gently push the sharp edge of the cutter into the drywall and spin the cutter so it scores the drywall's paper. Go around the circle a few times with the cutter.

Flip the drywall over and place the center of the circle cutter over the pilot hole. Score the paper on this side of the drywall, spinning the cutter a few times.

Stand the drywall on its side. Use a hammer to gently tap the circle out of the drywall. Lift the sheet of drywall up to the ceiling and position the circle over the recessed light. Secure the drywall to the ceiling studs with drywall screws.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Straightedge
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Circle cutter
  • Drill
  • Drywall screws


  • Envision how you will be lifting the drywall up to the ceiling before making any pencil marks. This will ensure that you are making the measurements from the correct sides of the drywall.