This is my living room and I am planning to install 9 recessed lights on the cathedral ceiling.

enter image description here

There is no attic space and there should be just 4-5" gap on top before it hits the roof.

I don't want to bring down the ceiling entirely just for this job. Notice that there is one light on top already but it's in the wrong location so it's not useful. The joists are going left/right to top beam. So running the existing wire to other locations will require drilling through ALL the joists.

One other information to know is that I have access to attic space NEXT to this living room area and I can see a big "triangle" so I could drill from there.

I have two options:

  1. Run new wiring from the attic space (blue rectangle) to OUTSIDE the house and into the sides of the cathedral ceiling. I can drill holes from left and right (circles) where there are air vents into the top space of the ceiling:

enter image description here

I assume I could use outdoor wires and then just fill the hole with some hole filler material to seal it.

  1. Drill 6 big holes (red rectangles) on the wall and drill on top to make a hole into space of the ceiling. Then run wiring from the wall up the ceiling.

enter image description here

This is more difficult as I just cannot figure out how to run the wire from the switch to inside the wall through these 6 holes. I assume I have to drill side-way through all the studs to run the wire. But this option seems "more right" than the first one.

Please let me know your thoughts on the two options or if there is a better way.


  • 2
    This is wizard-tier cable fishing. Any compelling reason you want to DIY this? I'm not normally one to hire work out, but I'd hire a pro ASAP on this one. Couple hundred bucks, job's in your rear-view and you don't have any new leaks. Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 7:38
  • No compelling reason but saving $1.5K :-) Yeah but I know this is "hard" but I also did all the recessed lights in my house, WITH attic access.
    – HP.
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 7:40
  • 1
    Are you wedded to recessed fixtures? Or would a low-profile, surface-mount type of fixture be acceptable? Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 11:44
  • Are you sure the ceiling panels are affixed directly to the joists? It's common to install firing strips that run perpendicular to the joists under a roof like that before installing the ceiling paneling.
    – longneck
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 13:33
  • See youtube.com/watch?v=Tf5qF93gCVk
    – longneck
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


I think your plan is based on a reasonable assumption - that when you drill in from the outside, you'll have an unobstructed path between the rafters to fish your wires up through.

I'd want to verify that is the case before committing to this plan. I'd want to drill holes in from the outside and be as sure as possible I could get a fiberglass fish stick up to the spot where the can lights are going before I cut holes in that ceiling. This isn't a guarantee things will go easily but it ought to help.

You are probably aware of this, but even with two very proficient people working, getting in place on ladders, scaffolds or etc. and fishing wires from the eaves to the ceiling is going to be challenging to do safely.

I don't know if you'll be happy with the appearance of exposed outdoor cable under the eaves, if not, installing conduit up there will be another challenge.

I don't know if that ceiling is tongue and groove, but choose your hardware carefully - some may be much much easier to install than others.

Wiremold is starting to look pretty good to me...


You could add crown molding along the walls below the tops and run wiring behind that. Or use surface wiring along the beam and mount lights on both sides or the underside of the beam.

"I don't want to bring down the ceiling entirely just for this job." Yikes! Never! I would use floor lamps or plug-in wall mounted sconces.

  • When I added a chandelier to my living-room-that-became-the-dining-room, I used crown molding to hide most of the cable, and the electrician only had to cut one extra hole (which I patched) in the ceiling to get everything else done. This setup is more complicated, but crown molding could definitely solve part of it. Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 14:29

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