How to Replace a Wall Fixture

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Torpedo level
Materials Required
  • Wall fixture
  • Light bulb
  • Electrical tape

Before You Begin

Definitely hire an electrician if you want to add a fixture where an outlet doesn't exist because it requires running a new power line from the circuit panel and possibly adding a new circuit breaker to the panel, jobs best left to a professional who is licensed and bonded to do the work. Click Home Advisor and find local electricians in your area.

But if you're replacing an existing fixture for a new one here are the instructions.

  • Step 1 : Turn off the power

    Shut off the power at the main circuit breaker or fuse panel.

  • Step 2 : Remove the old fixture

    Remove the glass globe, shade and bulb and any nuts or screws that hold them in place. Carefully remove the old wall fixture from the wall by unfastening the screws that hold it in place. Pull the fixture away from the wall and disconnect the fixture by unwinding the wiring that holds it to the wall. The old fixture will dangle from the wall, so if it is freshly painted or decorated, put a towel behind the fixture to protect the wall.

  • Step 3 : Install the mounting strip/strap

     Install the mounting strip

    Most wall fixtures have a mounting strip or strap that holds the fixture to the wall and is connected to the electrical junction box in the wall.

     Install the mounting strip

    Center the strip over the junction box and pull the wiring through the center of it. Then attach it to the wall with the screws and nuts provided.

  • Step 4 : Connect the wires

    Strip 3/4-inch of insulation from the wire ends. Twist the stripped ends together with pliers. Attach black to black (power) wires and white to white (neutral) wires. Attach a copper wire to a ground wire and attach to the green screw. Twist on plastic wire caps over the bare wires to insulate and connect them. Fold the wires into the junction box.

  • Step 5 : Fasten the fixture to the wall

     Fasten the fixture to the wall

    Place the fixture on the wall and align the support screws with the holes in the canopy and screw on the cap nut. Use the level to make sure the fixture is straight and level on the wall.

  • Step 6 : Add the shade and bulb

    Add the shade and bulb

    Install the shade or glass and secure it with the socket ring. Screw in the appropriate size light bulb. Turn on the power and then turn on the wall switch.

    Illustrations courtesy of Portfolio Lighting