How to Frame for a New Ceiling Fan and Light Fixture –

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Assemble the fan and hang it

Insert the correct size downrod

Place the motor right side up, thread the wire thr

Place the motor right side up, thread the wire through the downrod and insert the downrod into the mounting collar.

Install a new ceiling fan mounting box: electrical box and a ceiling fan wiring hanger bracket

Feed the existing wire through the cable clamp in

Feed the existing wire through the cable clamp in the top of the new metal ceiling fan junction box, slip the box over the saddle screws, and tighten the nuts to clamp the box to the shaft with a nut driver or a deep-well socket. Crimp a loop of grounding wire three-quarters around the grounding screw and tighten the screw.

Attach the Support

Press a small board against the bottom of the outl

Press a small board against the bottom of the outlet box to hold it flush with the ceiling while attaching the support assembly to the joists. Working through the channel, drive deck screws or nails through the holes in the metal hangers and into the joist. Use four screws on both ends of the support, two on each side of the hangers.

With No Attic Access

If no access is available from above you can work through the outlet hole to install a specially made, adjustable fan support. Using this method, it can be difficult to secure the support and set the outlet box at the proper finished level. An easier way to be sure of proper placement is to use the method here to install a wood frame. The ceiling must be cut to do this, after which the damage can be patched and/or covered with a decorative medallion.

Locate the two joists nearest the new fixture loca

Locate the two joists nearest the new fixture location using a stud finder or tap on the wallboard until the sound indicates the general location of the joists. Use a drill and an eighth inch bit to drill through the plaster where the joists are estimated to be. Drill holes at 1″ intervals until you meet resistance and wood from the joist is ejected. Mark the location of each joist with a pencil mark.

Hold the outlet box against the ceiling about midway between the joists and trace the outline with a pencil. Cut a channel from one joist to the other, the same width as the outlet box. Use a drywall saw to cut gypsum board and a reciprocating saw to cut wood lath plaster.

Step 2: Tighten Brace and Bolt


Tighten the brace with a wrench or groove-joint pliers. Attach the U-bolt to the brace and slide the box up through it. Tighten the nuts.

The ingredients you’ll need

Once you’ve made all the necessary measurements and chosen a fan, it’s time to begin the installation. Review the instructions that came with your fan to be sure you have all the parts and tools you’ll need. Tools for the job typically include:

  • Ladder
  • Voltage tester
  • Flashlight
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Wire strippers/cutters
  • Wire nuts

How to know the right size of fan for the room

To determine what size of fan will be the most efficient for your space, measure the square footage of your room. For rooms measuring up to 75 square feet, you’ll want to install a fan that’s 36 inches in diameter or smaller. Between 75 and 144 square feet, choose a fan in the 36 to 42 inch range. For spaces measuring 144 to 224 square feet, look for fans in the 50 to 54 inch range. Larger rooms may need fans with as much as a 72 inch blade span.

Next, measure the area directly around the fixture. There should be at least 30 inches of clearance between the tips of the fan blades and the walls. So, if you are installing a 36-inch diameter ceiling fan, the center of the unit should be a minimum of 66 inches from the nearest wall. Measure the height, as well. The bottom of the fan should hang at least 7 feet from the floor. Check your fan’s instruction manual to see if there are any additional details about ceiling height or blade clearance.

Safety first

You don’t want any “shocking” surprises when working with electrical wiring, so the first step is to turn off the power at the breaker box. Locate the switch that controls power to the room you’re working in and flip it to the off position. It’s wise to notify the rest of the household that you are doing this, as well as post a warning on the door of the breaker box.

Turning off the lights

  1. Find the light switch that controls the fixture you’ll be working on and turn it to the OFF position.
  2. Detach the light shade. This is usually accomplished by loosening three or four screws. Unscrew the light bulb and use your voltage meter to be sure there are no live wires.
  3. Disconnect the fixture wires, remove the mounting nut with your wrench and remove any screws that may be holding the old fixture in place.
  4. Examine your existing wiring. There should be a bare copper ground wire, a white neutral wire and a black supply wire. If your wiring looks different, stop and consult an electrician.

Prep the Junction Box

  1. Once the light fixture is out of the way, remove the existing junction box. If it is rated for ceiling fans, there will be a marking indicating that on the interior. If not, you will need a new box. Junction boxes rated for fans are typically made of metal and can hold up to 70 pounds.
  2. Using a flashlight, examine the interior of the hole where the box was mounted to determine if you need to install support. If this fixture previously held a ceiling fan, you may be good to go. Generally, though, you’ll need to add bracing.

Bracing your fixture for support

Ceiling fans can be quite heavy, with some weighing up to 50 pounds, and they need solid internal support. This support is usually achieved with an extendable metal fan brace. Many fan kits include this brace. If yours doesn’t, purchase a brace that is rated for the weight of your fan. You’ll also need a U-bolt bracket that fits over the center of the brace, and the appropriate mounting bolts for attaching the junction box.

Extendable braces consist of a square metal tube with a rotating internal mechanism that extends two spiked feet.

  1. Insert the brace vertically up through the hole.
  2. Turn it horizontally inside the hole and lay it flush with the ceiling, with the ends pointed to the two ceiling joists. Make sure it’s centered over the hole.
  3. Rotate the square bar with your fingers until you feel the spiked feet anchor securely into the wooden joists.
  4. Slip the U-bolt bracket over the brace so it hangs centrally over the hole and carefully feed the mounting bolts into their slots.
  5. Slide all of the wiring into the opening in the rear of the junction box, and attach the box to the U-bolt bracket, leaving the nuts loose for the moment.

Install the Fan

You’re almost there! Ceiling fan kits usually come with a fan mounting bracket. This bracket has a circular divot which holds the ball mount at the end of the fan’s downrod. The mounting bracket will attach to the junction box either by clipping into or sliding over the box’s mounting bolts. Check the instructions to see how your bracket should be attached.

  1. Feed the wiring through the center of the bracket, then secure the bracket to the bolts as indicated by the instructions.
  2. Working on the floor or a table, feed the fan wires through the downrod.
  3. Secure the downrod to the fan motor and slide the canopy over the rod so that the open end faces upward.
  4. To attach the fan to the ceiling, line up the fan’s ball mount and insert it into the divot in the mounting bracket. It may be helpful to have an extra set of hands to help support the fan for this step.

Making the wires connect

  1. Measure how much length you’ll need by holding each fan wire up next to its partner in the ceiling, leaving some slack.
  2. Snip off any excess from the fan end with your wire cutters to minimize the bulk you’ll need to tuck inside the mounting bracket.
  3. Make clean connections by stripping about half an inch of the insulating vinyl from the ends of the wires you’ll be connecting.

Get Grounded

You should have a bare copper wire coming from the ceiling. This is your ground wire.The ground wire neutralizes current, preventing overloads and short circuits by tripping the breaker. You will also have a ground on the fan side. This may be a green wire coming from the fan motor or located on the mounting bracket. Alternatively, it might be a green screw inside the mounting bracket. If there’s a green wire, connect it to the house’s copper ground wire with a wire nut. If there’s only a green screw, wrap the end of the copper ground wire securely around the screw’s shaft, then tighten down the screw.

Knowing your wires

The next step depends on the type of ceiling fan you’re installing.

  1. For a standard ceiling fan without a light
    • Simply connect the two black (supply) wires with a wire nut.
    • Attach the fan’s white (neutral) wire to the house’s white wire, using a wire nut. This completes the electrical circuit.
  1. For a ceiling fan with a light
    • Combine the light’s blue wire with the two black wires using a wire nut, so that all three wires connect. If your fan and light will use a remote control, your kit will come with a receiver.
    • Attach the house wires to the receiver’s power-in side, then connect the receiver’s control side wires to the matching fan wires.
    • When you’ve finished connecting all the wires, tuck them into the mounting bracket or junction box, keeping the ground and white wires to one side and the black wires on the other side.

Putting in the finishing touches

  1. Slide the fan’s canopy over the mounting bracket and attach it securely with the included screws. It should fit flush against the ceiling and hide your wiring.
  2. Connect a blade mounting bracket to each fan blade, then insert the brackets into the rotating bezel below the motor. Loose blades may cause the fan to wobble, so be sure each one is firmly attached.
  3. If your ceiling fan has a light, follow the manual’s instructions to assemble the fixture.
  4. Attach the fixture to the fan motor and connect the wiring.
  5. Screw in the bulb, then finish by installing the glass light shade.

Controlling your new ceiling fan

Examine your fan controls. A standard fan with pull cord controls can be operated by the existing light switch, with no further steps needed. However, many fans are controlled by a rheostat-style switch that controls both ON/OFF and fan speed. To replace the existing light switch with one included in your kit, remove the wall plate and unscrew the switch housing. At this point, you may wish to take a picture of the wiring connections for reference. Detach the wiring from the old switch and attach it to the ceiling fan’s control switch according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Replace the plate, turn the power back on, and test the fan and light operation.

Installing an energy efficient ceiling fan adds both comfort and value to your home. Your fan will provide refreshing breezes, circulate warm air and save you on energy costs. This simple DIY job can be accomplished in a fairly short time, doesn’t require any specialty tools, and takes only a moderate skill level. Take your time, perform each step carefully and enjoy the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Lack of Support

One of the biggest hazards of ceiling fans is that they can break free from the ceiling if they’re not installed properly.  Every ceiling fan should be supported by an electrical junction box that was designed specifically for ceiling fans. A fan brace box must also be used to keep it secure. Don’t be tempted to simply install a ceiling fan where a lighting fixture once hung without upgrading these boxes. It can lead to the fan falling.

Install the Fan

When you buy your ceiling fan, it will come with instructions to help you install it, and you should definitely follow them, but most fans are installed in pretty much the same way. Attach the fan’s mounting bracket to the electrical box, and use the installation hook on the bracket to hold the fan in place while you connect the wires in the fan motor assembly to your house wires. Connect the white wire coming out of your ceiling with the white wire coming out of your fan, and secure the connection with wire connectors. Do the same with the two black wires. Connect the grounding wires to each other and to the ground screw in the electrical box.


Attach the mounting hardware that secures the fan motor assembly to the mounting bracket. If there’s a light fixture on the fan, wire it up the same way you wired up the fan motor assembly. Then put the fan blades on and attach any decorative light covers. When attaching the fan blades, make sure to screw them on as tight as you can — you don’t want one coming loose and falling or flying off.

Optimal Sizing, Speed, and Placement

Use this formula to find the best fan size for a room’s occupied space (the part of the room where people gather the most): Occupied space (in square feet) divided by 4 equals the blade span (in inches). Step blade span down a bit for rooms with low ceilings, and go wider if the ceilings are high.

Another good rule of thumb is to remember that blade spans of less than 36 inches are ideal for spaces smaller than 75 square feet, such as baths and breakfast nooks. Spans of 36 to 42 inches work in rooms of up to 225 square feet, like a dining room. Larger living rooms and bedrooms can handle 50- to 54-inch blades.

Make sure that the cubic feet of air that the fan moves per minute (cfm), measured at high speed, is near the top of its class. Some 52-inch fans, for instance, rate as low as 2,050 cfm, while others reach 7,800. High-cfm fans not only provide a better breeze, they usually have robust motors that will last longer and run more quietly.

For optimal performance, the fan should be hung at least 1 1/2 feet from the wall or a sloped ceiling, 7- to 10-feet from the floor, and at least 8 inches from the ceiling. Steer clear of hanging the fan too close to any lights, as rotating blades under a bulb will create an annoying flicker.

Available Ceiling Fan Boxes


If a strong framing member is positioned directly above the box's hole, a pancake fan box or a box with a joist bracket through its center may be the easiest to install.


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