How to Adjust the Ceiling Hole Size for a Light Fixture

Sometimes you may need to change the size of the hole in your ceiling that holds a light fixture. This can happen when you want to replace an old recessed light with a smaller or different type of light, or when you have cut a hole that is too big for the new light. Or maybe you just want to move the light to another spot and cover up the old hole.

One way to do this is to use a plastic cake separator plate. This is a round disk that professional bakers use to support and separate layers of tall cakes. It has an 8-inch diameter, which is perfect for reducing the hole size for both 6-inch and 5-inch recessed lights. It also has a smooth and round surface that looks like a trim. It is made of hard polystyrene, which is rigid, heat-resistant, and easy to cut.

If you can’t find a cake separator plate, you can use any other thin and rigid plastic disk that has similar properties and appearance.

What You Need

  • Oscillating multi-tool or manual saw
  • RotoZip or equivalent tool
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • 8-inch plastic cake separator plate
  • Recessed light fixture with a paper template
  • Painter’s tape
  • White caulk (optional)

Steps

  1. Cut off the legs on the bottom of the cake separator plate with an oscillating multi-tool or a manual saw held at a low angle.
  2. Trace the outline of the new recessed light on the top of the cake separator plate using the paper template provided with the light fixture. Use a pencil to mark the center and the circumference of the circle.
  3. Cut out the circle with a RotoZip or an equivalent tool. Make sure to cut inside the pencil line so that the hole is slightly smaller than the recessed light. You can sand or file the edges if needed.
  4. Turn off the power to the old recessed light at the main electrical panel and remove it from the ceiling. Disconnect the wires and take out the housing.
  5. Place the cake separator plate over the ceiling hole and align it with the center. Secure it with painter’s tape.
  6. Connect the wires of the new recessed light to the existing wires in the ceiling box following the manufacturer’s instructions. Push the wires into the box and insert the recessed light into the hole in the cake separator plate. The clips on the light should snap down and hold it in place.
  7. Remove the painter’s tape and check if there are any gaps between the cake separator plate and the ceiling. If there are, you can fill them with white caulk for a seamless look.
  8. Turn on the power and test your new light.

Tips and Tricks

  • Before you start, make sure the new recessed light is compatible with the existing wiring and ceiling box. You may need to consult an electrician if you are unsure.
  • If the ceiling hole is too small for the new recessed light, you can enlarge it with a hole saw or a drywall saw. Make sure to measure and mark the hole size carefully before cutting.
  • If you want to cover up the old ceiling hole completely, you can use a drywall patch kit or a metal cover plate. You will need to cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole, attach it with screws and mesh tape, and apply joint compound and sand it smooth. Alternatively, you can use a metal cover plate that matches the color and texture of your ceiling. You will need to drill holes in the plate and secure it with screws or adhesive.

Benefits of Changing the Ceiling Hole Size

  • Changing the ceiling hole size can allow you to install a different type of light fixture that suits your style and preference. For example, you can replace an outdated recessed light with a modern LED light that is more energy-efficient and has a longer lifespan.
  • Changing the ceiling hole size can also improve the appearance and functionality of your lighting. For example, you can install a smaller recessed light that provides more focused and directional lighting, or a larger flush-mounted light that provides more ambient and diffused lighting.
  • Changing the ceiling hole size can also help you fix any mistakes or damages that may have occurred during the installation of the light fixture. For example, you can cover up a hole that is too big or uneven, or enlarge a hole that is too small or tight.

Summary

Changing the size of the ceiling hole for a light fixture is not a common home improvement project, but it can be done with some creativity and basic tools. One way to do this is to use a plastic cake separator plate that can reduce the hole size for a smaller recessed light. You can also enlarge or cover up the hole with other methods, depending on your needs and preferences. Changing the ceiling hole size can help you install a different type of light fixture that improves your lighting and decor.

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