Recessed Lighting: Remodel Vs. New Construction


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Interior lighting is an essential part of room design. Trying to find the right type of light to illuminate your home can be difficult, especially when you want to create a welcoming environment. Recessed lighting is an excellent choice for providing light for your home.

Recessed lighting is a common choice for homeowners to provide adequate lighting to their homes, but not many people understand that there are two different types. While remodel-style recessed lighting is designed to be installed in an already existing home, new construction recessed lighting is designed to screw right into the joists in your ceiling.

Homeowners who want lighting with great stability may want to go with new construction lighting, despite the extra work that goes into this method.

What Are the Parts of Recessed Lighting?

Regardless of whether or not you choose remodel or new construction recessed lighting, the general parts of the unit are the same. There are three main parts of recessed lighting: the housing, the trim, and the bulb or other light source. The trim of your recessed lighting refers to the decorative mold that covers the opening of the lighting area.

The housing of your recessed lighting refers to the protective structure that hides in the ceiling and holds the entire fixture in place. The bulb, or another light source, is the part of the fixture that actually provides the light. You may choose to use electric bulbs or an LED alternative.

Things to Consider When Choosing Recessed Lighting for Your Home

Before choosing recessed lighting for your home, there are some important factors to take into consideration. Whether or not your home is new construction, the type of recessed lighting that works best for your home, and where you want to light your home are all significant criteria you need to be aware of.

Is Your Home New Construction or a Remodel?

There are two types of recessed lighting fixtures for homeowners to choose from. Which of those you choose relies on your home either being a new construction build or an already existing home you want to remodel. In other words, remodel recessed lighting is for homes with a ceiling already in place while new construction recessed lighting is for new builds that don’t have a ceiling installed yet.

With remodeled recessed lighting, installation is done by cutting a hole into the ceiling and fixing the fixture housing to the hole. Once it’s in place, there are special clips that attach the light to the top of the drywall or paneling.

For new construction recessed lighting, the fixtures are nailed to the ceiling joists before installing the drywall. This method definitely offers more support, but it can take more work if you try to complete it on an already existing home.

Cost Differences Between Remodel and New Construction Recessed Lighting

When it comes to installing recessed lighting, it’s generally more cost-efficient to do so in a ceiling with existing lights. For that reason, new construction recessed lighting might end up costing more, but the increased stability may make it worth it.

If you’re working with a ceiling that already has existing lighting, you can expect to pay between $200-$300 per fixture. For the entire project, you’ll likely be looking at between $800-$2,160 for the end product.

For new construction recessed lighting, you’ll likely be looking at paying up to $500 per fixture and between $800-$2,880 for the end product. In the end, the cost difference isn’t very big so it may be worth going for the more secure option.

Insulation Compatible vs. AirTight Fixtures

When shopping around to find recessed lighting for your home, you’ll likely find that there are two different options available. If you don’t know the difference between insulation compatible (IC) and AirTight recessed lighting, it can be difficult to know which one is the right one to buy.

IC recessed lighting is required anywhere that the light fixture may touch insulation in your home. This isn’t something you can get away with by cutting away the insulation because it’s one of the primary things inspectors look at when assessing a home. AirTight recessed lighting, on the other hand, can be either IC or non-IC. The overall design of these light fixtures is meant to prevent air conditioning and heat from leaking through into the ceiling and escaping from the main living areas.

IC Ratings: How to Tell if Recessed Lighting is IC-Rated

To determine whether or not your recessed lighting is IC-rated, you’ll need to be able to access the lighting with a ladder. Once you have access to the area, follow these steps to check your lighting:

  1. Remove the surface trim ring. To do this, you’ll either need to pull downward on the trim or twist it counterclockwise.
  2. Look for the laboratory rating sticker. This is located in the inner bulb chamber of the light fixture. Along with the fixture’s rating, it will also tell you the maximum wattage allowed for use with the fixture.
  3. Replace the surface trim ring. Depending on the removal method you used before, use the opposite instructions to put the trim ring back into place.

The Area You Want to Light

Depending on the area you want to light within your home, you’ll also need to determine how many recessed lighting fixtures you need. To determine the amount of wattage required to provide adequate lighting, multiply the square footage of the room in question by 1.5. The answer to that will tell you how much wattage is needed for the entire space.

Will Recessed Lighting Increase Home Value?

Recessed lighting is generally a popular choice among homeowners who plan to sell their homes in the future. In fact, homes that have recessed lighting hold an average sale-to-list price ratio of roughly 101.5%. Not only will recessed lighting increase your home value, but it can also add a modern touch to the interior of your home.

When is the Best Time to Install Recessed Lighting?

While recessed lighting can increase the value of your home, the best time to install recessed lighting is during a new build or initial renovations when you first move in. This way, you can use the new construction method to install a secure recessed lighting system without having to worry about living in a ceiling-less house.

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Rob Orr

Me and my family have lived through a nightmare of a remodeling project gone wrong, making countless mistakes including placing trust in the wrong hands. Despite these setbacks, we took matters into our own hands for many aspects of the remodel, ensuring quality workmanship guided by expert advice. Through my personal experiences, I've created My mission is not only to share the pitfalls we encountered but also the successes we achieved by combining our efforts with trusted professionals. By sharing both the highs and lows of our journey, I aim to help others navigate their own remodeling projects with greater confidence, ensuring they benefit from our lessons learned.

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