Recessed Lighting in Concrete Ceilings
You can't install recessed lighting directly into concrete ceilings, but our expert suggests some alternative work-arounds.
 
I have an older condo with concrete ceilings and popcorn. Is it possible to install recessed lighting or do you have any other suggestions?

It is not possible to put recessed fixtures into a concrete ceiling, but there are a few creative ways you can approach it. One possible solution is to install box beams (hollow beams) that run from wall-to-wall or installed a coffered detail. You can then place the recessed fixtures in the beams. It also means that you can install hanging decorative fixtures as well.

Another more modern solution would be to suspend floating wood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) panels which would hang down 3.5 inches from the actual ceiling. You can then put recessed fixtures in these panels as well as run a perimeter LEDs light for an attractive ambient glow. And if I were you, I would get rid of the popcorn. All you have to do is water it down and scrape it off. There are videos you can watch; just type in "how do I remove the popcorn ceiling?" into your search engine. If it is asbestos then you have to have a specialized company do the work. But if it has glitter in it, I would keep it.

Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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