DIY Network

Install Track Lighting

Adding track lighting is an easy how-to remodeling project that really brightens up a room.

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Step 1: Install the Track

Determine where you want to install the track. You can install the track first and run the wiring later, or you can install track lighting in place of an existing light fixture and use its wiring. In either case, the wiring attachments will be hidden by a cover plate.

Use a stud sensor to locate the ceiling joists above the installation location.

Drill pilot holes into the joists and attach the track to the framing with wood screws. Use toggle bolts if you can't screw into the joists.

Step 2: Run Wiring from a Power Source

Choose an electrical junction box or switch box with existing wiring accessible to the track location. If you are experienced in electrical work, use this location to splice in new wiring to the track lights. If you do not have the electrical skills required for this job, complete the track installation and hire a licensed electrician to wire the light.

At the home’s main circuit breaker panel, shut off the power to the wiring in the junction box. Check all wires in the box with a circuit tester to be sure the power is off.

Route a new wiring run from the junction box to your light switch location. For a residential multiple-light track fixture, 12-gauge, 2-wire non-metallic cable is recommended.

Step 3: Position a Light Switch Box

Use the stud sensor to identify an area between studs to place the light switch. The box should be placed a minimum of 2” away from the studs. Measure and mark the location so the box will be at the same height as other switches in the room.

Use a drywall-mount electrical switch box as a template to mark the cutout.

Drill a pilot hole in the corner of the cutout, and use a long screwdriver to check for obstructions in the wall cavity.

Finish the cutout with a drywall saw.

use long screwdriver to check for obstructions

Step 4: Run Wiring to the Switch Box

From the attic, locate the top of the wall where the light switch will be mounted. Use a 1-1/2" spade bit to drill down through the framing into the wall cavity.

Route an electrical cable from the track location, then feed it down into the cavity and out through the hole cut in the wall.

Strip about 10” of sheathing from the ends of both electrical cables, then push the cable wires into the switch box and tighten the cable clamps to hold them in place.

Push the box into the wall opening and secure it by tightening the attached wall-clamp screws.

Step 5: Connect the Switch to the Light Fixture

At the switch box, strip 1" of insulation from the black and white wires from both cables.

Connect each black wire to a terminal screw on the light switch.

Twist the ends of the white wires together and secure them with a wire nut.

Connect the bare ground wires to the green ground screw on the switch, if provided, or to the electrical box.

Attach the switch to the electrical box and install a cover plate.

At the light fixture, connect the wiring from the light switch, mating black wire to black wire and white wire to white wire. Attach the ground wire to the fixture’s ground wire, if provided, or directly to the metal fixture. If the wires terminate in a junction box at the fixture, attach the ground wire to the box.

Step 6: Connect the Wiring at the Power Source

Connect the cable to the house wiring at the power supply junction box.

Step 7: Install the Lights to the Track

Insert the individual lights onto the track so that the three prongs line up properly with the electrical wiring inside the track. Most fixtures simply snap into place.

insert individual lights onto track