How to Change a Recessed Light Fixture

Updated: May 01, 2023

Simply change the trim to change the style

how to remove recessed lightingFamily Handyman
Improve the appearance of your recessed lights by simply changing the trim. The task is simple and takes only minutes—no tools needed!

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A simple recessed light trim change-out

How to Remove Recessed Lighting Photo 1: Remove the old trim and base

Remove the metal base from the housing, then pinch the spring clamps that hold the ceramic light socket in place.

Photo 2: Install the new trim

Slide the spring-loaded metal arms up into the slots in the housing, then push the trim up against the ceiling and put the lightbulb in.

Dissatisfied with the look of your recessed lights? You can change them in a few minutes just by changing the trim.

How to Remove Recessed Lighting

Remove the existing trim and bulb and look up inside the metal housing for a sticker with the brand name, the model number and compatible trim styles. If you can’t find the information, or the brand isn’t available, take the old trim to a lighting store and look for matches. Most manufacturers have several different types and sizes of housing that will accept a variety of trim styles.

Changing old, yellowed trim for new trim is simple—just pull out the old trim and attach the new trim in the same hooks. You can also replace standard trim with an eyeball-style trim that can be aimed in different directions, but it takes an extra step.

First, turn off the switch and circuit breaker and remove the bulb. Unscrew the wing nut that holds the base of the light in place and remove the socket (Photo 1). Then snap the socket into the top of the eyeball shroud and push the eyeball trim up into the can (Photo 2). Be sure to use the type of bulb recommended on the label in the housing.

If you’re planning to save energy, you can upgrade light fixtures.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • New recessed light trim