How to Install Rope Lighting in a Tray Ceiling

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Rope lighting is formed by tiny lights connected inside a tube. It is a solid strip of lighting and provides a soft ambient glow, either white or in a variety of colors, around a room, under cabinets and along stairs. Tray ceilings are a decor element used to lower the edges of a ceiling to form a frame around it. This type of ceiling is sometimes used to aesthetically hide duct work and other construction elements in the ceiling. Rope lighting works well with a tray ceiling by lighting the shadows in the corner where the tray ceiling meets the wall. Using a track ensures the light stays straight, rather than sagging over time.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Rope light track
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Drywall screws
  • Measure the area around the ceiling where you want to install the rope light. For tray ceilings, the ideal location is around the edge where the corner of the ceiling meets the wall. This edge is usually darker than the rest of the ceiling. You can also use the lighting along the edge where the tray ceiling meets the main ceiling. Use the measurement to determine how much rope light you need when you go shopping. Make sure it is long enough to cover the entire circumference and that you are able to reach an electrical plug with the end.

  • Predrill the track, using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than your drywall screws. Drill at each end of the track. If the tracks are longer, such as more than 3 feet long, you should add a hole in the middle of every foot.

  • Screw the track into the desired location along the edge of the tray ceiling. Use drywall screws and screw into each hole. Make sure you use screws with a flat head so they lie flush along the track.

  • Press the rope light into the track so it is firmly in position. Start at the end of the room farthest from your plug and work toward the side that has the plug. Make sure the lights are snugly in position all the way along by running your hand over them.

  • Plug the lights in, using an extension cord or the cord that came with the rope lights.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hide the light cord using a electrical cord raceway. The raceway is attached to the wall and the cord tucked behind it. The raceway can either be white or colored to match your decor.
  • You can use a silicone adhesive to secure the lights inside the track, but the lights are designed to stay in position on their own.
  • Add interest to your tray ceiling by installing a string of lighting on the inside corner where the tray ceiling meets the main, center ceiling, then install a second string of lighting along the edge corner that sticks out into the room.
  • Use colored rope lighting, such as warm yellow or blue, for a different look.
  • Add a sheet of mirror to the higher part of the ceiling to reflect light down into the room.

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