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Spray Foam Around Recessed Lights: When and How to Use Can Light Insulation Covers

attic insulation | can light insulation covers

Spray Foam Around Recessed Lights: When and How to Use Can Light Insulation Covers Blog Feature
Eric Garcia

By: Eric Garcia on May 20th, 2020

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Your attic is in desperate need of insulation, but you’re wondering how spray foam insulation around recessed lights is going to work out.

You love the look of your recessed lights in your home, so you want to make sure you keep them in working order. That’s where can light insulation covers come in handy.

As the general manager here at RetroFoam of Michigan and the Professor of Foam on the YouTube series Foam University by RetroFoam, I understand why making those airtight recessed light covers is important, especially in preventing air leaks.

It’s our mission to educate homeowners, so I plan to break this down for you so you understand what recessed light covers are, how to make them airtight when adding attic flat insulation, and how you and your contractor can choose the right covers for your project.

What are Recessed Light Insulation Covers?

Whether you call them recessed light covers or can light covers, basically if you have recessed lights in your ceiling the housing for the light is up in your attic.

When you add insulation to the attic floor, then you need to get a cover to protect that housing and the inside of your light structure.

Can You Spray Foam Around Recessed Lights?

Whenever spray foam is used, I always recommend using light caps. This keeps the insulation from coming through into the actual light housing. So, can you spray foam around recessed lights? Yes, you can, and here’s why you’ll want a cap.

Open cell spray foam expands a lot. So, if the foam is sprayed on the light housing, there is a chance it could work itself down in the light fixture and even the room below.

 Another reason you want to use the covers is there is the possibility the light may not be rated to be in contact with insulation. You need airspace around the light structure to let the heat dissipate.

Now if you decide to use an insulation material like fiberglass or cellulose, even then I would recommend putting a light cap over it, even if the lights are rated to come into contact with insulation. This is because either material could work its way into the fixture of the light and could obstruct it.

Now let’s get into how to use airtight recessed light covers.

How to Make Recessed Lights Airtight When Adding Spray Foam to the Attic

You now understand what recessed light covers are and why they’re a good idea, now let’s talk about installing the caps and spray foam around the recessed lights.

A lot of times you can get store-bought light caps, put them right over the housing, and spray around them. Other times your insulation contractor will want to make them out of drywall or something similar.

The spray foam can then be sprayed around and over the cap ensuring there won’t be any air leaks.

Another option, especially when using spray foam insulation, the contractor might even make a box out of spray foam and then spray right over it.

Choosing Can Light Covers for Attic Insulation

Light caps are usually inexpensive running around $20 a piece at home improvement stores, and they don’t take long for a contractor to add-in.

The added bonus of the light covers is if you go into your attic and you need to service those lights, they will be super easy to identify. You will be able to take the box off and service those lights as needed.

When it comes to choosing the right covers for your recessed lights, talk with your contractor to find work out what you both feel is best for your home.

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About Eric Garcia

Eric brings his knowledge and training in building science, training in spray and injection foams from the manufacturers, more than 8 years installing foam insulation, as well as selling and managing in the foam insulation industry. He is also BPI and Dale Carnegie certified and has taken several building science courses including air sealing and building envelope. Eric’s responsibilities include overseeing and giving support to all of the branches of the RetroFoam of Michigan company, office, estimates, and installs. He is also the Professor of Foam on our educational YouTube series Foam University. Even when Eric is off he is usually still “working” or thinking about work, but when he can get away he enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, and woodwork.