How to Efficiently Install Ceiling Medallions

Adding a ceiling medallion is the easiest thing you can do to change the look and feel of any room in your home. Installing small ceiling medallions, up to approximately 24 inches or so, is a simple job for the average home handyman. As long as you are comfortable with changing a light fixture you should have no problem. If you are uncomfortable with removing your fixture take a look at installing a 2-piece ceiling medallion.

Safety is so important we would like to address it briefly. Always follow approved safety practices. Use hearing and eye protection. When you need to use a dust mask or respirator, be sure to use the right one for the job. Last, but not least, when working in electrical boxes, always make sure the power is turned off.

Plan the Installation-Before You Order

This is probably the most neglected step in any installation, but the most important. It is what makes the difference between a quick and efficient installation or massive frustration and numerous interruptions to run to the hardware store. The first step is to select the ceiling medallion you want to use. If you are using it in conjunction with a light fixture or a ceiling fan, you should note whether the ceiling medallion’s center hole matches the fixture’s trim. If they don’t match you will also need to order a ceiling medallion center or a new fixture trim ring. Now is also a good time to see if the lighting fixture hardware is going to be long enough. Check the building code to make sure that there are no conflicts with your installation plans. In case of conflict, always follow local building codes. NOTE: Most building codes require you to leave access to the electrical box. Using a ceiling medallion with a 3.5-4 inch center hole provides this. Permanently mount the ceiling medallion to the ceiling and use either the fixture’s trim ring or a removable ceiling medallion center to cover the electrical box. Also, make sure that the existing electrical, plumbing and framing will not interfere with your installation.

Order Materials

Now that you have planned your installation, its time to order your materials. When you order your ceiling medallion, don’t forget to order the ceiling medallion center, if you are going to be using one. Order construction adhesive, caulk, fasteners and extra length light fixture hardware. Order your hardware with your ceiling medallion and save yourself a trip to the store.

Assemble Materials

Before you start, assemble all the materials near where you are going to install the ceiling medallion. Double check to see that you have everything you need before you start. Now is the time to prefinish the ceiling medallion if you want to. If you plan on doing anything more than just painting it flat white, prefinishing is recommended.

Remove Existing Fixture

TURN OFF POWER !!! Turn off electrical power at the breaker box and mark the circuit breaker so someone doesn’t accidentally turn it on while you are working. Now you can safely remove the existing fixture.


We recommend having the product on hand to ensure exact measurements. Layout the area on the ceiling where you want to mount your ceiling medallion. For a small ceiling medallion, you should be able to hold it up with one hand while tracing around it with a pencil. Larger ceiling medallions may require an assistant. If you need to orient a round ceiling medallion use a single register mark at the junction of the ceiling/medallion. Mark both pieces. For oval and diamond shaped ceiling medallions, start by drawing centerlines parallel to the walls and 90 degrees apart on the ceiling. Then make register marks 90 degrees apart on the perimeter of the ceiling medallion. Locate and mark ceiling joists on the ceiling and on the medallion if you are using screws to mount (required on all plaster ceiling medallions and also on polyurethane ceiling medallions over 20 inches). Mark and/or protect wiring and plumbing if necessary to avoid fasteners penetrating them during installation.


Drill and countersink (1/8 inch deep max.) screw holes for mounting screws. Also, drill the center hole or ceiling medallion’s center hole if necessary. If you don’t have a hole saw of the proper size, polyurethane is easily cut with a razor knife.

Apply Adhesive

Apply adhesive according to the adhesive manufacturer’s directions. Small ceiling medallions may be installed using only adhesive. Temporary clamps or fasteners may still be necessary until the adhesive sets.


Fasten the ceiling medallion to the ceiling using coated screws in the predrilled countersunk holes. If you are unable to screw directly into the ceiling joists, the use of toggle bolts is permitted. Ceiling medallions over 20 inches in diameter and all plaster ceiling medallions require mechanical fastening.

Finish up

After the adhesive has dried, usually 24 hours, caulk the perimeter ( if needed ). Use no-shrink spackle, joint compound or plaster to patch screw holes. Feather edge or sand repairs and touch up paint. Hang up your fixture and you are done.

One final step: sit back and enjoy the simple beauty you have created.

copyright 2005

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