Should You Install Recessed Lighting Before or After Popcorn Ceiling Removal?

A common question for homeowners with acoustic aka popcorn or cottage cheese ceilings is what should go first; the ceiling contractor or the lighting contractor?

The answer is the recessed lighting should go first. An exception is if your ceilings test positive for asbestos. In that case, the ceiling abatement goes first, then the lighting, ceiling refinishing, and finally painting. 

The reason your recessed lighting should be installed before you have your ceilings refinished is the electrician may need to cut a few holes in the wall or ceiling to run the wiring to your lights. The last thing you’ll want is holes being cut in your brand new ceilings.

If you install your lighting first, any holes that are made by the electrician can be repaired during the refinishing of your ceilings.

The Ideal Sequence of Contractors

For non-asbestos ceilings:

  1. Recessed Lighting
  2. Remove popcorn and refinish ceilings
  3. Paint

For ceilings that test positive for asbestos:

  1. Asbestos abatement
  2. Recessed lighting
  3. Refinish ceilings
  4. Paint