How To Install Spotlights

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to effortlessly install spotlights on any ceiling.
Written By: David White | Updated:
How To Install Spotlights
David White/DIY Works

Spotlights can completely transform a room and are much easier to install than you would expect. Whether you purchase standard LED spotlights or those that can be smart controlled via your phone or voice commands, the installation method is the same.

During a recent house renovation, we installed spotlights in every bedroom as well as a kitchen that featured 26 spotlights (as shown in the above image). Therefore, we have plenty of experience to point you in the right direction when it comes to installing spotlights yourself.

What You’ll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Stud finder or bradawl
  • Cordless drill
  • Hole saw set
  • Lighting cable
  • Spotlights

What’s Above The Ceiling?

Depending upon where you are installing spotlights will determine how you wire up the lights.

For example, if the ceiling is below an attic/loft, you will need to gain access to feed the wire to the holes you create in the ceiling.

Alternatively, if there is another room above the ceiling, you will need to pull up the floorboards, which may be a task in itself. This is because the room may have carpet or other flooring installed, which must be lifted.

How To Install Spotlights

1. Decide Upon How Many Spotlights You Need

When it comes to installing spotlights, it’s important that you install enough to lighten up the room, but you don’t want to install too many so that the ceiling looks overcrowded. As a general rule, it’s advised that you install one spotlight per square metre and space them at least 1/2 a metre away from any walls in the room.

2. Check For Joists

Before you begin marking out where you want to install the spotlights, you need to take note of where the joists are in the ceiling. In order to do this, you can use a stud finder that will alert you of any joists, or alternatively, you can use a bradawl to poke through into the ceiling. If you use the bradawl method, you will need to use a decorating filler upon the holes that were made in the ceiling before painting.

3. Mark Out The Spotlights In The Ceiling

Now that you know the amount of spotlights you are going to install and where the joists are located, you will want to mark out the spotlights in the ceiling. The cheapest and most effective way to do this is to use a chalk line.

In order to effectively use a chalk line, you need to measure the length and width of the room and mark equal distances for each line. For example, if you are installing two lines of six spotlights, you’ll need two vertical lines going through three horizontal lines. This will therefore give you six spotlights where the lines cross as shown in the image. After you have created the markings, you will want to measure each square to ensure the distance is equal before you begin to create holes in the ceiling.

Marking Out Spotlights

David White/DIY Works

4. Measure The Spotlight Size

Depending upon the size of the spotlight will determine the hole size you need to create in the ceiling. Every spotlight brand will state a measurement in millimetres, and you’ll need to purchase a matching hole saw to create the hole.

5. Use A Hole Saw To Create The Opening

Connect the hole saw attachment to a cordless drill and align it in the centre of the horizontal and vertical lines where you want the spotlight to be installed (as shown in the photo). Once you are happy with the placement, drill through the ceiling to create the opening.

It’s worth pointing out that if you create a hole in the ceiling containing Artex, you want to do so with caution. The reason for this is that some Artex ceilings may contain asbestos. Before cutting into our ceiling, we sent off a sample for testing, and it was confirmed that it didn’t contain asbestos.

how to install spotlights in existing ceiling

David White/DIY Works

6. Wire The Spotlights In The Ceiling

Once the holes for the spotlights have been created, you can then begin to wire them up. Whether this is via a daisy chain configuration or junction boxes, the choice is completely up to you.

7. Fit The Spotlights

Now that the spotlights have been wired in and you have tested that they work from the switch, you can put them in place. The majority of spotlights slot in place on spring clips that securely grip the plasterboard.


Ceiling spotlights are a great solution for any bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom or hallway. They are easily adaptable and come in various shapes and sizes to suit all your requirements. In terms of the installation, it does require some DIY experience, but it’s certainly doable for most competent DIY’ers.

If you require further information regarding the installation of spotlights, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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