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 for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

Leave A Comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Lastest from ask randall

I would recommend a 21-inch-diameter fixture and I would have the bottom of the fixture 36 inches above the table top. That being said, depending on... read full story
If the fixtures are decorative in nature, then 70 inches to 80 inches would be the right mounting height. If they are more of an indirect light... read full story
This has nothing to do with building code. While it is less expensive electricity-wise to not install light bulbs in the recessed fixtures, I think... read full story
The short answer is yes. The fixtures need to be UL-listed. UL tests fixtures so that they are safe. If the fixtures are UL-listed then UL will take... read full story


Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2-3 p.m. EST Sponsored by Kuzco Lighting. Register for this free CEU webinar by clicking here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0... read full story
Sponsored by Bock Lighting, CSL, Fanimation, Pure Lighting/Edge Lighting and USA LED Lighting Solutions.   Wednesday, June 10, 2-3 p.m. EDT This free CEU webinar has... read full story
Sponsored by Emerson, Ferguson and Pure Lighting/Edge Lighting. This free CEU webinar has already taken place, but you can watch the archived presentation on-demand by... read full story

RL Tweets!