How to Frame for a New Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture –

Before You Begin

A ceiling fan replaces the existing ceiling light usually located at the center of the room. If you have a ceiling light already, this is a straightforward job. You should be able to work above your head on a ladder for long periods, and you should have basic wiring skills of the level required to install a ceiling light.

Contact your local building department to see if a permit is needed for the ceiling fan installation, for the electrical part of this project, or for both tasks.

At the electrical service panel, turn off the circuit breaker that controls the power running to the ceiling light.

The 12 Best Ceiling Fans for Every Home


Build a Support

Working through the channel, measure the distance

Working through the channel, measure the distance between the joists and cut a 2×4 to this length. Attach a fan-rated outlet box to the midpoint of the 2×4 where you want the fixture to be. Attach a joist hanger to each end of the 2×4, keeping them flush, not protruding past the end of the wood. Butting the 2×4 against a flat surface while assembling can help to keep the bracket set properly. Insert the support assembly between the joists and set it so the outlet box is flush with the ceiling surface.

Attach the hanger bracket

Position the hanger bracket so that the opening in

Position the hanger bracket so that the opening in the bracket is on the uphill side of the sloped ceiling. Then screw it into the box with the special screws provided with the fan brace.

Pull the ceiling fan wiring into the new box, mount the box onto the brace (Photo 4) and attach the fan hanger bracket (Photo 5).

Prepare the Support Brace and Mounting Hardware

Once you’re sure the power is out in the room, remove the light fixture you’ll be replacing.  Remove the glass globe or other light covers and bulbs. Loosen the mounting nut and any other screws that secure the light fixture to the electrical box in the ceiling. Disconnect the wiring to the light fixture and leave it hanging out of the ceiling.

If the electrical box for your light fixture was mounted on a ceiling joist, you can remove it and mount a fan-rated pancake electrical box directly to the joist to support your new ceiling fan. Ceiling fans are heavy, so you need an electrical box rated to hold one up. It should be fastened directly to the joist, or to a support brace between the joists. If you can access your ceiling joists from above, you can install a support brace made out of a length of 2×4 lumber attached to the joists with two- to three-inch decking screws. Otherwise, you can use an expanding metal support brace, which you can insert through the hole in the ceiling and ratchet open between the joists. Spikes on the ends of the mounting bracket will dig into the wood of the joists and hold it in place. Attach your electrical box to the brace. Pull the house wiring down through the electrical box.

Install a Ceiling Medallion

An easier alternative to repairing the damage is t

An easier alternative to repairing the damage is to use one coat of mud and then cover the rough repair with a preformed medallion. A plastic medallion can be installed using caulk to stick it to the surface or using the fixture cover plate to hold it in place. You can also get a plaster medallion, these should be installed using setting joint compound or plaster of Paris to attach it to the ceiling. Keep pressure on the medallion to hold it in place until the mud has set.

Connect the light pod and radio receiver

Place the radio receiver into the switch housing/l

Place the radio receiver into the switch housing/light pod assembly and connect the light pod wires according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Note the settings on the receiver’s code toggles so you can dial in the same settings on the electronic controls at the wall switch. Now loosen the screws in the switch-housing hub halfway. Plug the motor ceiling fan wiring into the receptacle on the receiver and twist the switch housing into place on the hub. Retighten the screws.

Step 2: Mount your ceiling fan

Once the old fan or light fixture is removed, the existing wiring from the previous fixture should be poking out of the hole in the ceiling. Install the new fan’s mounting bracket by threading the existing wires through it and using the provided mounting screws to secure it to the electrical box.

For the most efficient operation, your new fan should sit roughly 9 feet above the floor. If your ceiling is vaulted, a downrod will help lower the fan unit. If you’re using a downrod, place the fan’s canopy on the downrod and then thread the fan’s wires through it. Secure it to the fan’s base, or motor housing, with the provided pins and screws. Now is a good time to trim off any excess wire using a wire cutter. Then, attach the downrod to the mounting bracket on the ceiling using the hanger ball on the downrod.

Screw the Fan Bracket to a Ceiling Joist


Here's an option that eliminates the need for a new box. Screw the fan's mounting bracket directly to a nearby joist. The plate will be off-center, so you may need a medallion to cover the hole.

Optimal Sizing, Speed, and Placement

Use this formula to find the best fan size for a room’s occupied space (the part of the room where people gather the most): Occupied space (in square feet) divided by 4 equals the blade span (in inches). Step blade span down a bit for rooms with low ceilings, and go wider if the ceilings are high.

Another good rule of thumb is to remember that blade spans of less than 36 inches are ideal for spaces smaller than 75 square feet, such as baths and breakfast nooks. Spans of 36 to 42 inches work in rooms of up to 225 square feet, like a dining room. Larger living rooms and bedrooms can handle 50- to 54-inch blades.

Make sure that the cubic feet of air that the fan moves per minute (cfm), measured at high speed, is near the top of its class. Some 52-inch fans, for instance, rate as low as 2,050 cfm, while others reach 7,800. High-cfm fans not only provide a better breeze, they usually have robust motors that will last longer and run more quietly.

For optimal performance, the fan should be hung at least 1 1/2 feet from the wall or a sloped ceiling, 7- to 10-feet from the floor, and at least 8 inches from the ceiling. Steer clear of hanging the fan too close to any lights, as rotating blades under a bulb will create an annoying flicker.

Can I install a ceiling fan where a light fixture is?

One factor to consider when replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan is that the electrical box for the light fixture may not be built to hold the weight of a ceiling fan. Fans are much heavier than light fixtures, so you’ll likely need to purchase a new electrical box that was designed to anchor a ceiling fan.

Step 2: Pry Box


Insert a flat pry bar between the box and the joist. Pry the box away from the joist. You may need to pry out a staple anchoring the cable to the joist. Work carefully to avoid unnecessary damage to the ceiling.

Install a Rated Electrical Box for a Retrofit

Ceiling fans must be installed with electrical boxes that are clearly stamped as being rated for fan support. If you’re installing a ceiling fan in place of a small light fixture, you’ll probably need to replace the electrical box with one built to handle fan vibrations. Disassemble the light fixture, undo the wiring connections and remove the existing wiring box by removing the screws holding it in place.

Some support bars attach directly to the joists with screws, but you’ll need attic access to install them. Otherwise, retrofit fan boxes come with an expandable cross piece with spikes on the ends. Twisting the crosspiece makes it expand and dig its end spikes into the ceiling joists. This holds it firmly in place.

With the old box removed, insert the retrofit box completely in the hole and rotate it with your hand until you can position it so that the box protrudes from the hole and the crosspiece is perpendicular to the joists. Don’t forget to work the wires into the wiring box before you get everything set in position. Twist the crosspiece with a wrench until the end spikes dig into the joists. With the electrical box securely in place, reattach the ground wire before proceeding.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions to install the adjustable hanger bar and ceiling box

You install most hanger bars by pushing them thr

You install most hanger bars by pushing them through the hole in the ceiling left by the old electrical box. When you have the hanger bar completely through the hole, rotate it until it’s perpendicular to the ceiling joists. The bar expands until it engages the ceiling joists. The ends of the hanger bar are equipped with sharp steel pins that dig into the wood joists when the hanger bar is expanded. You then attach the special ceiling box to the hanger bar, locking it in place to provide a secure base for the fan.

Supplies Needed

Before installing a ceiling fan, you must shut off the circuit breakers supplying power to any fixtures or outlets you’ll be working with. You should also fully unpack your fan kit and read the included installation guide. Verify that all the parts are included, and gather the other tools you’ll need, which may include:

  • Electric drill
  • Pliers
  • Crescent wrench
  • Wire cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Ladder
  • Drywall saw
  • Safety goggles

Blog / News


Leave a Comment