More in Salvage

How to Swap in a Vintage Light

This simple switch can add lots of charm

light on a ceiling
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Of all the salvage projects I've done, installing this lightweight fixture was by far the easiest. To do it yourself, all you need is 30 minutes, some basic tools (ladder, screwdriver, wire nuts, circuit tester), and the pain-relieving tablet of your choice—I don't care how many bicep curls you do at the gym, it hurts to hold your arms above your head for that long. Here's the step-by-step.


Steps // How to Swap in a Vintage Light
1 ×

Cut the power

 
Step One // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Cut the power

woman turning power off
Photo by Nancy Andrews

Cut power to the existing fixture at the breaker. Check to see if there is still electricity flowing by using a circuit tester and flipping the wall switch on and off.

 
2 ×

Unscrew the nuts

 
Step Two // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Unscrew the nuts

unscrew the nuts on the lighting fixture
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Release the fixture by unscrewing the nuts on its housing, and disconnect the hot black and neutral white wires coming out of the metal box in the ceiling from those on the fixture. You may also need to disconnect a third ground wire (usually green or bare copper).

 
3 ×

Install a crossbar mounting bracket

 
Step Three // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Install a crossbar mounting bracket

Install a crossbar mounting bracket
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Install a crossbar mounting bracket (kits are available at lighting supply stores), using the hardware provided.

 
4 ×

Connect the wires

 
Step Four // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Connect the wires

connect the wires on the vintage lighting fixture
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Connect the white wire in the ceiling to the white wire on the fixture by twisting the ends and then screwing on a wire nut. Repeat the process with the black wires and with the ground wires if you have them.

 
5 ×

Position the fixture

 
Step Five // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Position the fixture

Position the new fixture
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Position the new fixture over the screws on the mounting bracket, and secure using the nuts provided.

 
6 ×

Secure the glass shade

 
Step Six // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Secure the glass shade

secure the glass shade of the vintage fixture
Photo by Cressida Payavis

Screw in a lightbulb, and secure the glass shade

 
7 ×

Turn the power

 
Step Seven // How to Swap in a Vintage Light

Turn the power

woman turning power on
Photo by Nancy Andrews

Turn the power back on at the breaker, and flip the switch on your new light.

 
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.