I live in a condo with popcorn (a.k.a California) ceilings. Next week I'm having them scraped, spackled, and painted smooth. I also want to hang a ceiling light fixture (the dining area desperately needs more light). Since I'm having the ceiling done, I thought I might ask the contractor to run a wire as well. What is the best way to go about it?

Here is the picture I have in mind:

Cut a shallow groove in the ceiling to the nearest wall with electrical box nearby. Snake a wire from electrical box to the ceiling, then lay wire in the groove and spackle it over. Install the fixture (I have not decided on exact type yet, probably something hanging like a chandalier) with concrete bolts. The spot where the wire comes out of the ceiling would be concealed by the fixture.

Does this make sense? Is there a better way to do it?

  • 2
    Popcorn texture ( i have never heard it called "California" ) can be applied to many surfaces. Are you sure your ceiling is concrete? Are there any light fixtures in other areas of the ceiling? You can not just Spackle over a wire, if someone else is unaware of its presence they could unknowingly drill into it or otherwise breach it and electrocute themselves.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 22:34

3 Answers 3


While that might work, I doubt your HOA would allow grooving the ceiling because the concrete is part of the common structure.

Instead, install flat conduit.

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Or flatwire.
Flat Wire
(source: flatwireready.com)

Or maybe you might like a beam which could conceal a wire.

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  • 1
    I am trying to make my ceiling look better -- a conduit would be a step in the opposite direction. A flat wire is low voltage only. I like your idea about a beam. That might work, especially if it compliments the fixture style wise.
    – user443854
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 19:38

Another alternative would be to fur out the ceiling and install a drywall ceiling on top of your existing ceiling. This would give you an area to run new, concealed wiring. Another benefit to this is that you wouldn't need to scrape the existing ceiling which can be really messy (not to mention a lot of work), and you will need to mud/tape and paint regardless.

  • Dropping a ceiling will also be less work than cutting a groove in concrete. It will also provide a safer electrical installation.
    – user23752
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 21:13
  • 2
    @benrudgers: That's a pretty baseless statement. The ceiling area is 450 sq. ft., while the groove would only need to be 3' long. Besides, dropping a ceiling reduces ceiling height. Not to mention some other constraints, such as fire sprinklers and floor-to-ceiling windows.
    – user443854
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 1:48
  • 1
    @user443854 Those are facts which were not revealed by the question. Likewise, the area in which you think it is a good idea to cut a groove may obscure a post-tension tendon. Anyway, if it's just three feet from the wall, a properly installed sconce will achieve better general illumination - the light will be indirect (reducing glare) and better dispersed after bouncing off the ceiling (inverse square law). As others have mentioned, it will also not create issues with typical condominium deeds of the sort that are required to be revealed to future buyers.
    – user23752
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 1:59
  • @benrudgers: It is about 5' from the wall. The additional 2 feet are taken up by air duct and a fire sprinkler pipe, covered by drywall. In other words, from the intended point of light source on the ceiling, it is 3' of concrete ceiling, which then meets sheetrock where it drops about a foot and continues 2' to the wall (all sheetrock, so wire can be snaked under it).
    – user443854
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 13:39
  • @user443854 Light quality will be dependent on fixture choice either way. The bulk of a solution is in specification rather than methods of construction. Design thinking is often better than grabbing a hammer and treating everything as a nail. Screws call for a screwdriver.
    – user23752
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 15:02

Do a little trench in the wall / ceiling and bury a proper plastic conduit, nexy tou'll just have to 'pull' new wireelectric pipe

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