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I am installing recessed lights to my living room. The problem is, there are ceiling speakers already placed where I want the lights to go. So I now have to put the lights close to the speakers as much as possible. Is there a minimum distance from one hole to another that I should keep in mind to prevent weakening of the integrity of the dry wall in-between the holes?

  • You could always bolster the drywall. For example, a paint stick coated with wood glue or construction adhesive could be laid over the top of the drywall between the openings. – isherwood Jun 6 '18 at 16:31
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    @isherwood you mean the paint stick would go on the top side of the drywall, in the ceiling, right? – ArchonOSX Jun 6 '18 at 16:37
  • Yes. Of course, that means using an item for other than its intended purpose, which gives some folks hives. :P – isherwood Jun 6 '18 at 16:50
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as long as all of these are true, you should be good to go:

  • your recessed cans are properly anchored to ceiling joists
  • your speaker cans are also anchored to joists
  • your ceiling drywall does not have anything suspended from it, unattached to a joist

you shouldn't have anything pressing down on your ceiling drywall; it's only something that covers up your wooden understructure. you do need to ensure that there's no load pulling down on it, and you should be OK.

  • And cut carefully! – AdamO Jun 6 '18 at 17:59
  • So based on your comment, I should buy the new-construction cans vs the remodel cans? For the purpose of anchoring the cans to the joist and shifting the weight of the cans away from the dry wall? I was hoping for an easier install with the remodel version but if you think the new-construction will be a much better choice, I can try that. And for the cutting, I was planning to use a 6" hole saw purchased off amazon. I assume that would be fine? – James L Jun 7 '18 at 3:15
  • Unfortunately, the person who installed these speakers did not anchor them to a joist. They they anchored onto a piece of plywood and sitting on top of the dry wall. – James L Jun 7 '18 at 3:19
  • That's an interesting situation. If you want to use the new construction cans, you'll need to remove the existing drywall (or at least remove substantial parts of it) for a clean installation. Having said that, my own cans are of the remodel kind and I haven't had any issues with them. I do not have speakers though, and would be worried about the additional vibrations they'll no doubt cause. – alt Jun 7 '18 at 3:24
  • And yes, the hole saw should work just fine. Do make sure you've sounded the area first with a bent clothes hanger or something similar, just to make sure you don't have anything in the way. A drywall saw will also work for cheaper, with a lot of dust and careful manipulation though. – alt Jun 7 '18 at 3:27
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I would think you want to maintain enough spacing so that they look OK.

A light right next to a speaker will look kinda trashy.

I would add more lights and change the spacing pattern to move the lights away from the existing speakers. Of course, I have an OCD for symmetrical balanced things.

Good luck!

  • Actually, I don't think the question is about aesthetics as much as it is about drywall strength and safety in general. Most aesthetics are matters of opinion, and OP's lighting layout might suit them best. We also don't know how many lights have been set up, and square footage of the ceiling, to be able to determine their optimal setup. – alt Jun 6 '18 at 19:31
  • Thank you for the response. My living room is 18 L x 16.5 W x 8 H (ft). There are already speakers (that came with the house) on each corner at 3ft. Which sucks cuz now I have to try to put the speakers in at about 4ft with risk of dark corners. – James L Jun 7 '18 at 3:13
  • They make eyeball shades for can lights that direct the light at the wall instead of down. This could help alleviate a "dark corner" problem. – ArchonOSX Jun 7 '18 at 15:58

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