DIY Cove Lighting Made Easy

If you are looking for soft, indirect lighting that sets the mood of your room, look into installing some type of cove lighting. Do-it-yourself (DIY) cove lighting installation is not as hard as it seems. All it takes is a little patience and information to be safe, during the installation process.

The most important thing to remember is that you are dealing with electricity when installing any type of lighting .You should always flip your breaker switch into the off position in order to prevent being electrocuted. Some tasks may require the use of gloves, but this do-it-yourself cove lighting project should not require them.

There are various types of cove lighting to choose from when installing it in your home. You can choose from fluorescent, xenon, and incandescent lighting fixtures to name a few of your options. These may come in ropes of light or strips.

Cove Lighting Basics

Cove lighting is typically installed along upper ledges and recesses in the upper, dark edges of your rooms. You will want to make sure this area is well lit just long enough for you to see what you are doing as you do-it-yourself to install the lighting.

The lighting requires the proper location in order to set the mood of the room. Some people use cove lighting as a primary (non-blinding) light source in their room while others use it as more mood lighting to cast a glow in the room and reflect the rooms atmosphere in a more dramatic way.

The cove in which the lighting is placed should be anywhere from ten to fourteen inches from the ceiling at the top. Once you have determined the ideal place to install your lighting then the fun begins.

Do-it-yourself (DIY) Cove Lighting Installation

For this project, we will be installing a linear lighting source (lighting strip). You may have seen these types of lights in bathrooms with fluorescent or low xenon lighting fixtures. They are excellent for any type of cove type lighting situations as they give off the right glow to highlight any room without making the room too bright.

The Ledger Strip

The first step is going to be to install a ledger strip that runs along the area where your cove lighting will be. Over this strip you can attach some crown molding to provide a way to hide the cable lights. You should try to be creative as you have many options about the cove area where the lighting will be. The ledger strip is just a simple piece of lumber.

Clamp the ledger in place and use a router to create the detail of the cove. Routers are simple to use. All you need to do is sit the plate on the wood and let it pass along the edge. You can paint the ledger if you want or leave it the natural wood grain. Once you’ve decided which to do you will drill the pilot holes into the ledger so that you can attach it to the wall.

Attach the Ledger

The next step in your DIY cove lighting project is going to be to attach the strip to the wall. You might want to place a straight line of chalk where you will be placing the ledger so that you ensure it is perfect while you’re nailing it in place. You should mark the position on the ledger where the screws will be placed.

For best results, make the holes and then drill them deeper, but not too deep, before putting it in place. Depending on your surface you may need special screws. If you are drilling into a typical wall, average screws should be fine. However, if the surface is brick or something else you will need screws to accommodate the surface. At this point you will drill the screws in to attach the ledger.

If you have decided to use crown molding you will then add that with a combination of nails and glue, one section at a time.


The last step to install cove lighting is to actually attach the lighting. Generally, cable lighting is used. In this case you will take the cable lighting and lengthen it or cut it if necessary. To lengthen it you’ll place two pieces of the cable together by using connectors. If you need to cut it, you should use wire cutters and follow the cut point indicators on the cable.

Once it is the right size, you simply put an end cap on and plug the cable in. The lighting goes inside the cove where the strip does not have to be seen, but the effects of your cove lighting project can be enjoyed by all.