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How to Paint Recessed Lighting

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How to paint recessed lighting in an afternoon.

While I was painting my kitchen cabinets a few weeks ago, my eyes kept going to the 5 recessed lights under the soffit that runs along both sides of my kitchen.  They were staring down at me saying “Paint Me, Paint Me”. I knew it was time to learn how to paint recessed lighting!Kitchen showing how black recessed lights look before painting to white

I have always wanted them white so they would disappear. I love the light they produce, but not the black color.

How to paint recessed lighting

Can You Paint Recessed Lighting?

I asked my electrician friend if I could paint them and he said sure – it is done all the time.  Light bulbs, especially newer bulbs don’t get hot, so you don’t have to worry about heat blistering the paint.

How to Paint-Recessed-Lighting

That was all I needed to hear.  Goodbye black…

Kitchen-Decorating-Ideas-Paint Recessed Lights

…Hello white!    Amazing what a little white paint can do – like magic the lights have disappeared.

Paint Recessed Lighting

How to Paint a Recessed Light

It was a quick and easy job. These are the two products I used:

The paint to use to paint recessed lights in a ceiling

  • Make sure the power is turned off to the lights (ideally at the breaker).  As an extra safety measure, you may want to tape the light switch in the Off position so a family member does not inadvertently turn them On.
  • Remove bulb and pull down the recessed can from the ceiling.
  • Rough up the black baffle with  a piece of 60 – 100 grit sandpaper
  • Clean with a tack cloth.
  • Using a 1” angled brush, apply one light coat of gripping primer. I used Glidden Gripper. Let dry.
  • Apply a light coat of paint. I used Rustoleum Protective Enamel in Glossy White.  Let dry.  It needed, apply a second light coat.
  • When paint is dry, put the can and baffle back into the ceiling.  Replace the bulb.
  • Turn the power back on.

No more eyesore! Yay!  This is one of those projects I wish I did years ago.


When I took the window treatment down over the kitchen window, I had to also remove the grass cloth wallpaper around the window since it had holes in it from the curtain rod. (Before photo) I had extra, so after I painted the window, I replaced the wallpaper. (After photo)

See how my kitchen cabinets look with a fresh coat of white paint on them and the trick I used to add color to the shelves


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  1. Now I’m looking at mine in my kitchen… Great idea and I bet it’s even brighter in your kitchen now. I have 6 can lights in the ceiling of my kitchen and now have another project to do :-)

    1. Hi Mary Anne – I used brush on paint since I didn’t want to remove the baffles from the ceiling. You can easily pop them out of the ceiling holes to paint them, but I did not remove them all the way, so spray paint would have gotten all over everything, not just the baffle and rim.

  2. We built our house in 1991 and everyone was doing those black recessed lights. But I knew I didn’t want black spots on my ceilings!! I’m so thankful I insisted on white even though everyone tried to talk me out of them.