Having proper and functional lighting in the bathroom is important, but it’s just as important that you like the way it looks. It’s probably where you spend the morning getting ready for the day. Focused activities, like putting on makeup or shaving, can benefit from thoughtful lighting. Changing the lighting is one of the quickest ways to transform the overall feeling of your bathroom. In this tutorial, I’ll go through the steps on how to build a DIY bathroom light fixture from the ceiling.
Another important item of the light fixture is the light bulb itself. Using LED bulbs are environmentally friendly and use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Their color temperature ranges from very warm to very bright. LEDs are an excellent choice for mimicking natural light in darker areas of your home. When you choose LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, it feels great knowing you’re helping the environment.
I’ve designed this light fixture using scrap pieces that I had laying around in my garage. You might also be interested in the previous project that I did in this bathroom. I refinished the bathroom vanity top with epoxy resin, then changed the cabinet doors and drawer covers and made a bathroom mirror frame.
Time to Complete
Tools for this project
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Step 1 – Cut Base for the Light Fixture
Start with cutting the base for the light fixture. This base could be as big or as small as you want. For this project, I used an old drawer cover board from the bathroom vanity that I remodeled a few weeks ago. This board is 3/4″ thick and 5 3/4″ wide by 25 1/4″ long. Since this was a drawer cover board it had a decorative edge that was cut with a wood router.
If you don’t have this size board laying around, then take a 1×8 pine board and cut it to 25 1/4” x 5 3/4”. This will be the base of the light fixture. Then using a random orbital sander, sand the board on all sides and the edges. If you like the decorative edges, then you could do that with a wood router.
Step 2 – Cut 3/4″ x 3/4″ Wood Blocks
This light fixture has a bunch of ¾” x ¾” wood pieces that are different lengths and are glued together. I had a pile of ¾” thick scrap pieces in my garage, so this was a great project where i could use all these boards.
First, using a table saw, cut ¾” wide pieces following the grain of the board. It doesn’t matter how long they are at this point as long as they come out to be 3/4″ x 3/4″.
Next, you need to cut these 3/4″ x 3/4″ pieces into smaller blocks at different lengths ranging from 2″ to 8″ in length. Before cutting random lengths, first cut 12 blocks to 2″ in length with a miter saw. These 12 blocks will need to be glued together in sets of four for the light bulb. Set these blocks aside, you will need them in the next step.
Step 3 – Glue the Wood Blocks Together in Rows
Now, these 3/4″ x 3/4″ blocks will be glued together by layers or rows. I used a flat sheet of metal to layout the block. Using metal or plastic prevents the blocks from gluing to the workbench. At the bottom of the sheet metal, clamp an angle or some kind or ruler to serve as a guide to make sure all the pieces as straight. Also, on the left side clamp a square to the angle to have the block at 90 degrees.
Using a miter saw cut the block to different lengths and position them on the flat sheet of metal in a row, so that the row is 24″ long. Reposition the blocks if necessary to get the desired look before gluing them together. Once you’ve completed the first row, move it aside, and start on the second row.
When working on the 2nd through 5th row you need to keep in mind the placement of the light bulbs. I had the light bulbs equally spaced at 6″ from center to center in the middle of the base. So when arranging and gluing the blocks make sure they are not too long around the light location, otherwise, they will conflict with the light bulb. When working on row 3 and 4, place the 2″ blocks you’ve cut in step 2 for the light bulb as shown in the picture. Once all of the rows are glues together, clap everything together and leave it overnight for the glue to dry.
Step 4 – Sand the Light Fixture Blocks
Once the glue is completely dry, use a random orbital sander to remove any dried glue or uneven spots. If the bottom is uneven or will take too long to sand, use a table saw to cut off 1/8 of an inch to make it straight.
Step 5 – Drill a Hole for the Light Bulb Socket
Take a 1 3/8″ shank Forstner drill bit (same drill bit that is used for cabinet door hinges) and drill a 3/4″ deep hole in the center of 2″ blocks where the light bulbs socket will be inserted. Then continue drilling through the blocks with a 1/2″ drill bit. This hole will be used to feed and connect the wires.
Step 6 – Attach the Base to the Light Fixture Blocks
Take the base of the light fixture and cut a 3/4″ wide by 12″ long opening in the center using a skill saw and a jig saw. This does not need to be a perfect cut because it will not be visible. Now position the glued blocks in the center of the base and using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws, screw it in on the backside.
Step 7 – Stain the Light Fixture
Staining this light fixture is a little tricky because it doesn’t have a smooth surface where you could apply the stain and then wipe it off. It’s almost impossible to wipe off the stain from the blocks that have random heights and are so close to each other. So I deluded the stain with paint thinner to make the stain lighter and then applied it on the light fixture. I used 1/4 cup of paint thinner mixed with 1 teaspoon of Briarsmoke stain. After applying this mixture on the light fixture, I didn’t wipe it off, I left it the way it is to dry. If you want to make the stain darker, you could add another teaspoon of stain or stain a second coat of the same mixture.
After the stain dries, use a polyurethane spray to seal the wood and stain.
Step 8 – Attach Steel Pipes to Light Fixture to Hang from Ceiling
The original light fixture in our bathroom was attached to the wall, but I wanted the new light fixture to hang from the ceiling. To hang it from the ceiling I used ¾” threaded steel pipes.
First, attach the 3/4″ threaded black iron floor flange directly over the ½” hole on the backside of the light fixture. You will need to have two of these flanges attached on both sides of the fixture base. Then screw in 8” long steel pipe into the floor flange, and another floor flange out on top of the 8” steel pipe. See picture
Step 9 – Wire the Light Fixture
Now insert the fan fixture socket into the 1 3/8” hole on the front of the light fixture. Make sure to feed the wires through the hole first. The fan socket should be snug inside the hole. If it’s too loose you could place a small piece of tape on the socket and insert it back inside and that will keep the socket in place.
When working with electricity, it is important to make sure that the house main circuit breaker is off before touching or cutting any wires in the wall or attic. For wiring the light, you should have a black and a white wire coming out from the wall that’s connected to the on/off switch (on the newer houses you’ll have a third ground wire). Each of the fan sockets should also have a white and a black wire. Connect all black socket wires to the black wall wire and all white socket wires to the white wall wire. Ignore the third ground wire.
Step 10 – Hang the Light Fixture from the Ceiling
To hang this light from the ceiling, the upper floor flange needs to attach to the structural truss in the attic. If the flange does not land on the truss, you’ll need to add a 2×4 brace that spans the trusses. Do not attach this light fixture to the drywall without any backing. The drywall by itself will not hold the light.
In the attic, measure the distance from truss to the truss at the location where the light fixture will need to go. Cut a 2×4 board to that dimension and drill two pocket holes on each side of the 2×4. Then, in the attic, attached this 2×4 brace to both of the trusses using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Drill a 1/2″ hole through drywall and the 2×4 brace at the center of one of the floor flange locations. Then feed the wire that goes from the on/off switch in the attic inside the 1/2″ hole sticking down through the ceiling. This attic wire needs to be fed inside one of the steel pipes that will connect to the light bulbs. Use a wire connector to connect the wires as described in step 9.
Step 11 – Patch and Paint the Drywall
As I mentioned earlier, the original light fixture in our bathroom was on the wall. So when I disassembled the light and pulled the wire out, I had a 2″ hole in the drywall that needed to be patched.
To patch this drywall hole, first, use a small piece of drywall or 1/2″ plywood to fill in as much of the hole as possible. Then cover the hole with a fiberglass mesh drywall joint tape. Next, take all-purpose joint compound and fill in the hole with a putty knife. Let the joint compound dry and then paint the wall. You’re done with a DIY bathroom light fixture from the ceiling.