Joe Truini applying caulk to drywall ceiling around recessed light fixture hole.

To prevent heated air from escaping around the hole in the ceiling on recessed light fixtures:

  1. Remove the bulb from the light fixture.
  2. Pull the trim ring down a few inches from the ceiling.
  3. Apply a bead of caulk around the cutout in the ceiling.
  4. Press the trim ring into the caulking.
  5. Reinstall the bulb in the recessed light fixture.

Only caulk recessed fixtures to the ceiling if the trim ring doesn’t have to be removed to change the bulb. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


Danny Lipford: Recessed lights are extremely popular these days, but they’re not that energy efficient.

Joe Truini: The problem with recessed lights is that the fixture itself is actually up inside the ceiling. And it’s very easy for heated air or air conditioned air to seep behind here and go up into the ceiling, and you’re wasting energy in that case.

So one way to seal this up is to take caulk and put a thick bead all the way around the cutout in the ceiling. And then press the trim kit—which is what they call this ring—tight against the ceiling, creating an air tight seal.

Danny Lipford: What type of caulk would you use on this, Joe?

Joe Truini: Well in this case I’m using a siliconized acrylic, which is nice because it’s not only a caulk with an adhesive and it’s water clean up. You could probably use a straight silicone, but I like this because you can clean it up very easily.

Danny Lipford: And I guess it’s important to be fairly neat with this, that way you’re not having to do any touch-up paint around it.

Joe Truini: That’s right. I would put it right, as you see here, right along the cutout in the ceiling. It’ll get overlapped a little by the trim kit, but you don’t want it squeezing out.

Danny Lipford: Now, it’s important not to do this on a type of light fixture that has the lens on it, because you have to pull the trim kit down in order to change the bulb. So this works great on this type of fixture.

Editorial Contributors
Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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