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Cutting ceiling holes for recessed lights where I ALREADY have recessed lights!

Cutting ceiling holes for recessed lights where I ALREADY have recessed lights!


Old 03-02-09, 08:12 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,453
Cutting ceiling holes for recessed lights where I ALREADY have recessed lights!

OK I have a tricky situation.

I have to install quite a few recessed lights.

Most of them I have accessed (ceiling down), some of them I do not. Of the ones I do not, some of them I need to drill large holes to mount them, and some of them have existing non-functioning recessed lights already in place I need to remove first.

I intend to use as much as I can get away with IC housings for new work (not remodel) which means I need to get adequate access to the space above.

The ones I already have 35 year old beat up non-functioning rusted housing up there, with the flanges attached to the joists, and I need to attach a new one (different diameter) I will have to figure out a way to remove them, and attach new ones. To make the matter more complicated, the ceiling is not regular sheetrock, but a 3/4" thick material which is composed of 3/8" of plaster on top of 3/8" of gypsum board backing so cutting must involve a carbide blade.

I do have access to one of these:

and can cut a large hole up to 9" in diameter. I think my best bet may be (I already disconnected the wirings) use a hammer to knock the existing can back into the attic, then insert a piece of 1x2 wood into the hole, and secure the wood to the drywall across the middle from the inside using a few screws, then use this shielded hole cutter with the starter screw going into the piece of wood in the center and cut a 9" big hole. I tested this with a piece of scrap wall I demolished, and it cut through it like butter and no dust.

That would allow me enough room to cut out the existing housing and flanges, and probably enough room (I hope) to mount a new housing to the joists. The advantage is I can easily cut an identical piece of 9" hole and the patch would be perfect, and if I do that for all the holes I do not have access (about 16 of them), the patching work would be the same and no need to waste time measuring each hole being cut slightly different sizes etc...

One other upside is that this hole cutter has a plastic see-thru shield that collects the dust. Using a rotozip angled up even wearing eyegear there is no way to stop the nasty plaster dust from getting into your eyes and nose.

The downside is I would be patching a round hole, which I have not done before, how would you apply straight drywall tape to a round hole? Do you use short strips?

The other downside is in the event a 9" hole is not enough for me to mount the new housing, I would have to further enlarge the hole until I can...there is no going back to using remodel housing since the drywall support from a patch would be inadequate.

Any thoughts or comments or alternatives?


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Old 03-02-09, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
I have an idea about patching the round hole. Leave a piece of drywall recesses about a half inch or more in the hole. Patch the patch with plaster. Plaster always fits and you don't need tape. What you do is screw a piece of 1 X 4 longer than the diameter of the hole to the existing lath and plaster. Recess the screws a bit. Then screw that piece of drywall to the 1 X 4.

Paint the edges of the existing plaster with some bonding agent like Plaster Weld by Larsens Products. There are other brands. Then mix up some plaster you can use StructoLite or Gypsolite or even better old fashioned gypsum plaster with sand and scred it off flush. the cut it back about 1/16" inch to allow room for the finish and finish to match. If the ceilings are smooth you can use a setting type of joint compound like EasySand. There are other brands. If you mist it lightly just as it sets and trowel it down you can slick it down just as smooth as the original plaster. If it is textured then post some shots that show the texture and we can tell you how to do it.

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