Do canned lights really flush up against the plaster?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ November 15, 2013 ~ No Comments

Our contractor installed canned lighting. When we changed the bulb, a lot of plaster broke away from the ceiling. We called the contractor and he said it was normal and that the light flushes up against the plaster. Is this true?


Jeffrey Anderson

Joan, there are several different types of canned lights and it sounds like the contractor installed the correct fixture for your remodeling project. When canned lights are put in while a house is being constructed, just the actual cans or outer shells are installed. Once the house has been sheetrocked and painted, the electrician installs the inner parts and the trim rings which fit up flush to the finished ceiling. It sounds like this may be the type of canned light you're thinking about.

However, when a home is being remodeled and the existing ceiling is remaining in place, a different type of fixture is normally used. A hole is cut in the ceiling material and the can is slid up into the opening after the wiring has been connected. These fixtures normally have all of the parts already attached including the trim rings that fit up against the sheetrock.

When you say that plaster fell away, do you mean that you have a plaster ceiling or are you referring to the drywall mud used on a sheetrock ceiling? If you have plaster, depending on the finish, the lights' trim rings may not fit tight against the surface. A plaster finish can sometimes be rough and somewhat uneven. In either case, it almost sounds as if your contractor may have been a bit premature in installing the fixtures. Those types of canned lights should go in after the ceiling finish work is complete. That way the plaster or sheetrock mud isn't disturbed when changing the bulbs. However, it sounds like your contractor is conscientious so it shouldn't be a problem.

One item that should be mentioned when talking about canned lights is needing to be careful about insulation getting too close to the cans. A standard can may get very hot when the light is on for a long period of time and if insulation is against the shell, it can create a fire hazard. There are special cans designed for use near insulation, but if those weren't used and there is insulation in your ceiling, make sure the contractor maintained proper clearance.

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