Easy upgrades for out-of-date light fixtures
By Caryn Colgan, Networx
Homeowners and real estate investors both know the added value of updated light fixtures. New fixtures can cost hundreds of dollars. Cost-conscious property owners can often save money by upgrading their light fixtures instead of replacing them; follow these easy tips for inexpensive light-fixture makeovers.
Remove the Light Fixture
Gold and antique gold fixtures are not back in style yet. To give your light fixtures a much- needed decorating boost, remove the fixture and paint it. To remove the fixture, go to the electrical panel and flip the switch for the fixture's circuit.
Remove any decorative plates and bulbs before removing the fixture. Pull off any electrical tape and discard. Keep the plastic wire nuts so you can use them to reinstall the fixture. Make a mental note of where the copper wire was connected to the box as a ground.
Buy the Paint
Carefully wipe the surface with a 50:50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and distilled water. As it dries, visit a light fixture store to get an idea of the current trends in light fixture finishes. Keep in mind the style of your home. If your house is decorated like a Spanish hacienda, then a black matte finish would be a match. A contemporary or modern home might benefit from a painted chrome finish. Buy spray cans of Rustoleum paint for metal or another spray product designed for use on your light fixture's material.
Buy the Bulbs and Globes
Some of the builder-grade light fixtures have a simple design that accommodates upgrades beautifully. The ugly part of the fixture may be the bulbs or the globe that covers the bulbs. Take a bulb and globe shopping with you. While you are at the light fixture store, notice the trend in globes. Measure the old globe and bulb to ensure you purchase the right sizes.
Paint the Light Fixture
In a well-ventilated area, spray the fixture and follow directions. Start with primer, let it dry, then apply the finish paint. For light fixtures, you will want a smooth, seamless paint job.
Install the Fixture
Make sure the power is still off. Otherwise, someone might flip the switch and accidentally give you quite a shock. If the fixture involves a screw mount, screw the fixture to the mount before connecting the wires. Otherwise, you will end up with a tangled, potentially hazardous mess. Match red to red, white to white (or whatever colors your system uses). Once you twist the exposed ends of the wires together, cover with a wire nut and turn to the right. (Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey.) Wrap with electrical tape. Be sure to ground the copper wire in the same manner as it had been before. Affix any cover plate and install the new bulbs and globes. Turn the power on at the panel and test your switch.
Even builder-grade fixtures can look like expensive fixtures. By taking a little bit of time and doing some research you can easily and inexpensively update your property's light fixtures.