How to Wire a Loft Light

Lofts have always been popular living accommodations among artist and students. Their popularity increased dramatically around 2000 when they caught on with young professionals. People suddenly started remodelling what was once nothing more than storage space into loft studio apartments. Lofts are often small, and the lighting loads are minimal. Wall sconce lighting and pendant lighting are both popular in lofts, with wall sconces being the easiest to install. The good thing about wiring loft lights is that you can use any convenient 110-volt electrical socket circuit to provide power.

Locate the centre of the switch device box 46 inches above the finished floor. Use the electronic stud finder to make sure you will not be drilling or cutting into a wall stud for each step that requires you to pierce the wall.

Locate the centre of the lighting outlet boxes 66 inches above the finished floor. Use the lighting outlet boxes as templates to outline the cutouts.

Drill 3/8-inch holes in the inside corners of the cutouts. Remove the cutouts with the portable jigsaw. The objective here is to make the cutouts conform to the outside edges of the boxes as closely as possible.

Remove the baseboard from around the perimeter of the room. Cut through the paint where the baseboard meets the wall. Remove the baseboards with a hammer and pry bar.

Outline a 2-inch-wide channel behind the baseboard. Drill a 3/7-inch hole in the corners of the channel outline. Set your portable jigsaw for 1-1/4 inch cutting depth and remove the channel cutout. Cut through the studs as you remove the cutout. Finish notching the studs with a hammer and wood chisel.

Turn off the power to the receptacle outlet where you will be getting power for the lights. Remove the receptacle cover and remove the receptacle from the device box.

Run a length of cable from the receptacle outlet box to the opening that you cut for the switch box. Cut the cable long enough so it extends 10 to 12 inches into the room. Run a second length of cable from the switch box opening to each opening for the lighting outlet boxes. Cut these cables long enough so they extend 10 to 12 inches into the room. Lead this cable from one lighting outlet to the next.

Shove the ends of the cables 8 inches into each box. Push the boxes into the openings and secure them in place by turning the mounting screws in a clockwise direction, drawing the mounting wings up against the inside of the wall.

Remove the outer jacket from the cable ends with the razor knife. Strip 3/4 inch of insulation from the individual wires.

Splice the two white wires together in the switch box. Hold them side by side and twist them together with the needlenose pliers in a right-hand twist. Complete the splice by screwing on a wire nut. Cut a short piece of bare copper wire and make a three-way splice with the two bare copper wires in the box.

Make loops in the free ends of the black wires and attach one to each of the brass screws on the switch. Attach the bare wire to the green grounding screw. Secure the switch in the box.

Splice the black wires in the lighting outlet boxes to the black fixture wires. Repeat this step, splicing the white fixture wires and the bare fixture wires to the white and bare circuit wires. Secure the lighting fixtures to the boxes.

Connect the black wire and the white wire to a brass and silver screw, respectively, on the receptacle. If there are no unused screws on the receptacle, make up a pigtail splice as you did for the ground at the switch box. The National Electrical Code allows only one wire to a screw terminal. Connect the ground at the receptacle with a pigtail splice. Replace the receptacle in its box.

Cover the cable notches with nailing plates and replace the baseboards. Turn the power back on and check your work.

Things You'll Need

  • Electronic stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Old-work device box
  • Old-work lighting outlet boxes
  • 3/8-inch drill/driver
  • Spade bits
  • Portable jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Flat pry bar
  • Wood chisels
  • 12/2 Romex cable with ground
  • Nailing plates
  • Cable cutters
  • Razor knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Single-pole light switch
  • Wire nuts
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About the Author

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jerry Walch has been writing articles for the DIY market since 1974. His work has appeared in “Family Handyman” magazine, “Popular Science,” "Popular Mechanics," “Handy” and other publications. Walch spent 40 years working in the electrical trades and holds an Associate of Applied Science in applied electrical engineering technology from Alvin Junior College.