Wow! I just finished installing a chandelier into a skylight. It was one of the funnest projects I’ve done in quite some time. This skylight was pretty big, almost 8 feet across and went all the way through the attic to the roof over ten feet above the kitchen ceiling.
You may want to click on the photos for a better view. They will open at full size and you can see everything way better.
The homeowner wanted to create a way to hang a chandelier by building two crossing beams centered at the bottom of the skylight. The beams needed to be about 12″ square, so the undertaking needed to be strong and, aesthetically, well, as near perfect as possible since the bottoms of the beams needed to flush up against the existing ceiling and textured to match.
The finished project turned out great and the customer was really happy with the way everything turned out. Maybe as happy as I was to see the 40 pound skylight chandelier installed! Here you’ll find out how I did it and what tools I used. This one took about 30 hours to complete over a week and a half’s time since there were periods of waiting for things to dry. This is definitely NOT a weekend project… 😉
To undertake this project, you’ll need to know how to wire a light fixture, apply drywall mud and texture, and have some solid basic carpentry skills.
To begin, I had to find the center of each opening so I would know exactly where to cut out the existing sheet rock. After finding the centers, I drew out a square that measured 1/2″ larger than my beams.
The beams I used were 2X10’s which measure exactly 9-1/4″ wide. I drew out 9-3/4″ squares. That allowed for tolerance to get the beams into place, and ensured the cuts would be hidden behind the new sheet rock.
At the bottom of my cutouts there was the existing metal corners from the original sheet rock work. The bottoms of my cutouts were EXACTLY 11/16″ from the bottom lip of the skylight. That amount allowed for new 1/2″ sheet rock, plus 3/16″ for new metal corners and mud to create flush edges.
I had to use a metal grinding blade to cut the corners and I knew it would create a lot of dust, so I used 31 mil painters plastic to drape from the ceiling.
Draping is very important; unless you want to see dust EVERYWHERE in your house. I like the thin plastic drop cloth because it has a natural static buildup and will help “collect” the falling dust automatically.
After waiting for the dust to settle and a good cleanup, it was time to move on. Each day of the project I cleaned up on an as-needed basis, but would not need to use a drop cloth again until I was ready to apply the texture.
Next, I installed joist hangers for the beams. This job required 12 hangers. You can get joist hangers at any home improvement store in the building supplies area for less than $2.00 each. This part is tedious but fairly straight-forward. You need to be patient, make very sure your joist hangers are square and measure as close to the width of your beams from edge to edge.
In this project, I made sure the hangers were 9-1/4″ from outside edge to outside edge, the same as my beam width. I hung these with galvanized framing nails and used EVERY available hole. Each joist hanger is held in place with 5 nails. This ensures the strongest possible framework support.
After working my way around I was able to begin hanging the beams. In order to work the beams into place, it was necessary to cut the top corner of each beam to allow room for the beam to drop into place.
Then I installed the electrical box for the chandelier. I used a short length of a 2X4, 6 screws and carpenter’s glue to hold it in place. I made sure I purchased a box rated for a ceiling fan. That way there is no question it will hold pretty much any chandelier.
I drilled a 1″ round hole in the skylight between the new beams to run wire through to the attic. After running wire and insulating around it at the opening, I was able to begin covering everything with sheet rock. I wired in to an existing circuit, which I will save as a separate project in another article.
Hanging sheet rock is fairly simple and you don’t need to worry about the corners at this stage since every corner is finished with metal flashing. Tolerances are about 1/4″. Of course, you’ll want to make your inside corners as tight as possible, and be aware that your final mud and texture finishes those.
Outside corners are created by the metal corner flashing. The picture below shows the sheet rock with only a couple of corners finished out with the flashing attached. (note: I sculpted the back of sheet rock where each piece met the joist hangers to create the best possible and most square finish).
Mud was applied with a 12″ knife and roughed in. This layer needed to dry overnight. The next day a final layer of mud was applied and after that was dry, I sanded everything until I was happy with the surface and felt it was ready for texture.
Once again, the 31 mil plastic drop cloth was taped up very close to the work. The texture is applied with compressed air and a hopper, and there is always over spray, so care must be taken to ensure that the new texture goes where you need it; and nowhere else!
The texture on this project is commonly called a splat/drag, or more technically correct, a knockdown texture, and is pretty common in southern homes. I used a large tip on my mud hopper powered by about 35 psi from my compressor.
Once the texture was applied, I cleaned everything up and let everything dry for a few days to be sure there would be no additional shrinking of the drywall mud. Finally, I inspected everything closely and touched up with painter’s caulk, then painted everything before actually hanging the light.
This particular chandelier weighed in at about 40 pounds, and wouldn’t you know it? The customer wanted to lower it by 4 inches… Oh, well, I thought so too.
So, the finished photo is really not the finished project. You’ll just have to imagine how it looks with 5 chain links added to it.
This article does not go into depth as far as texture or electrical expertise goes, but hopefully it offers enough detail to inspire you to dive in.
Just remember, a project like this is difficult to wrap your mind around all at once, but when you break each part of the project down, it isn’t too terribly difficult to do.
It was a really fun project for me. Not too terribly difficult, sore neck notwithstanding, and the finished project is outstanding!
There is little doubt in my mind that this added feature will increase buyer appeal enough to more than cover the costs for this project when this homeowner gets ready to sell her home.