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How To Make Your Own Recessed Light Covers

Recessed lighting is typically where the intrusion of a surface mount or hanging light fixture doesn’t fit the interior design. In older homes, these recessed light fixtures reduce the energy efficiency of the home.  You can make and install light fixture covers on your recessed lighting fixtures.

How do you make your own recessed light fixture cover?

Making your own insulated recessed fixture boxes is as easy as taping together a few pieces of foil-covered insulation board.  This project is well within reach of most homeowner do-it-yourselfers.  With a little planning and a few simple tools, you can increase the energy efficiency and safety of your home.

Older homes with non-IC or IC-AT rated recessed light fixtures are often costing the homeowner money.  They can also be significant fire hazards if not installed and maintained correctly.  By installing a few self-built fixture boxes in the attic, you can mitigate these problems yourself.

Build a Box and Cover your Recessed Fixtures

The essential part of building a box to cover your recessed light fixtures is the choice of material.  The best material, and the easiest to work with, are foil-covered insulation boards.  These dense foam insulation boards are easy to cut and lightweight.

Also, most of these insulation boards are fire-rated, so they are safe to put into a home environment.  The fire retardant and insulating properties make these products the perfect solution for the DIY’er, adding attic boxes to recessed light fixtures.

Step 1 – What Do I Need?

Building an insulation box to put over your recessed light fixture doesn’t require expensive or elaborate tools.  The materials are relatively cheap and readily available.  These are the tools and materials you will need

  • A straightedge to help you make clean cuts
  • A utility knife with a fresh sharp blade
  • A tape measure
  • A marking pen or pencil. We suggest a new permanent marker with a sharp tip
  • The foam insulation board with foil backing
  • Adhesive-backed aluminum duct tape
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves

Step 2 – The Boxes

Count home many boxes you will need.  Each box consists of five pieces, each the same size.  The pieces for the boxes must be large enough to fit around the recessed light fixture.  The sides should be tall enough to cover the fixture without touching it.

Once you determine the size of your box, cut enough pieces from the foam board to build the boxes.  Use the marker and straight-edge to lay out the cut lines.  When the lines are marked, use the utility knife to cut the foam board carefully.

The straightedge may also be handy for making the cuts.  Use it to guide the utility knife as you cut.  When you have all the pieces cut, you are ready to assemble your insulation boxes.

Step 3 – Assembling the Boxes

When assembling your boxes, it is vital that the foil backing is on the inside of the box.  Having the foil inside the box is critical to ensure the best insulation and heat protection for your boxes.

The boxes are assembly by taping the edges together using the adhesive-backed foil tape.  Make simple butt joints and tape them together.  Don’t skimp on the tape.  Tape both the inside and the outside of the boxes

With all your boxes assembled, the next step is to install them over your recessed lighting fixtures.

Step 4 – Installation

Installing the insulation boxes on your light fixtures is the dirty part.  You must go up in the attic and find your recessed light fixtures.  Be careful as you move in the attic.  It would be best if you only stepped on the wood joists and not on the wallboard that makes up your ceiling.  The wallboard won’t support any weight.

Once you find the light fixture, move the insulation back far enough to expose the ceiling surface.  Position the box over the light fixture.  Use several pieces of foil tape to hold the box in place.  It is not necessary to tape the entire edge to the ceiling board.

With the box in place and secured, carefully pull the attic insulation back around and over the box.  Repeat the entire process for each light fixture and insulation box

CAUTION: Be careful when working around your recessed light fixtures.  It is always best to flip the breaker that serves the light fixtures before doing any work.  De-energizing the fixtures will prevent any shock hazard that you might encounter.

The Pros and Cons of Installing Insulation Covers over your Recessed Light Fixtures

Before you decide to install insulation covers over your recessed light fixtures, it is essential to consider both the pros and the cons.


  • Insulation covers installed over your non-IC rated recessed light fixtures can help the energy losses in hour home. The insulation covers stop the airflow from inside your home to the attic.  The reduction of this airflow can reduce energy costs.

  • With the insulation safely kept away from contact with the recessed light fixture, the chances of an accidental fire are much less.


  • Many Non-IC rated light fixtures require the airflow through the fixture into the attic for regular operation. Reducing or stopping that airflow is problematic
  • Light bulb life may shorten significantly. The reduced airflow through the fixture may raise temperatures enough to shorten the expected life of your lightbulbs.
  • Increased temperatures in the non-IC rated light fixture may increase fire chances. Without the airflow through the light fixture, the components of the fixture may overheat, leading to the possibility of fire

The Better Options

There are better options for eliminating the problems with older recessed light fixtures.  These options may be as cost-effective as building insulation covers, but, in the long run, they will be more efficient and safer.

If you are interested in energy-efficient options for lighting in your home, look at this article about solar tube lighting.

Install New Recessed Fixtures

Installing new recessed light fixtures that carry an IC or IC-AT rating is a better option than insulation boxes.  These new fixtures allow insulation to be in contact with the fixture housing.  If the fixture is rated AT and correctly installed, the problems with energy efficiency are solved as well.

Remove the Old Fixtures and Install Surface Mount Fixtures

New designs in surface mount fixtures, notably LED fixtures, can offer the same or better illumination that recessed fixtures.  Removing the old recessed fixtures and repairing the opening in the ceiling solves all the airflow problems.

Opting for track lighting or surface mount LED lighting also eliminates the problems with insulation and the recessed light fixture in the attic space.  These new high-efficiency lights will add to the energy efficiency of your home

For more information about choosing home lighting upgrades, check out this article.

The Choices and Decisions

There are many choices and decisions to be made when considering recessed lighting fixtures.  The addition of insulation covers is one option.  Replacing the existing fixture with newer IC-rated fixtures is another.  You can even consider changing your interior décor altogether by installing new surface-mounted fixtures.

We hope that this article has given you some insight into these options and decisions. Installing insulation covers over your recessed lighting fixtures may be a viable option in some situations.  However, considering all the options with the pros and cons can lead to better decisions in the long run.