How to Install a Wall Sconce

Installing a wall sconce can add beautiful, ambient lighting to any room. Wall sconces are an elegant alternative to overhead lighting and are ideal for highlighting artwork, illuminating hallways, or accenting decor. While installing a wall sconce may seem intimidating, it can be a relatively straightforward DIY project with proper planning and the right materials. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to install a wall sconce safely and effectively.

Choose the Right Location

The first step in installing a wall sconce is deciding on the perfect location. Here are some tips for finding the ideal spot:

  • Consider the room’s layout and existing furniture. Position the sconce where it can cast light without being obstructed.
  • For living rooms,Entryways, And hallways, place sconces approximately 5 to 6 feet above the floor. This creates ambient mood lighting.
  • Near a mirror in a bedroom or bathroom, install two matching sconces about 40-60 inches apart and 5 to 6 feet above the floor. This provides even lighting for grooming tasks.
  • In stairwells, stagger multiple sconces going up or down the stairs for safe illumination. Place them about 8 feet apart.
  • For accent lighting, position a sconce above artwork or an architectural detail you want to highlight.
  • Ensure the location has a wall stud to securely mount the sconce.

Gather the Right Supplies

Installing a sconce requires just a few supplies, most of which you may already have on hand:


  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill with assorted drill bits
  • Wire strippers
  • Voltage meter (for hardwired fixtures)


  • Wall sconce
  • Mounting screws
  • Drywall anchors (for drywall without studs)
  • Electrical box (for hardwired sconces)
  • Romex electrical wiring (for hardwired sconces)
  • Wire nuts (for hardwired sconces)

Safety gear:

  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask

Prepare the Installation Site

With the sconce location chosen and your supplies gathered, you can start prepping the installation site:

  1. Turn off power to the installation area at the main circuit breaker. Safety first!
  2. Use a stud finder to locate a wall stud. The sconce should attach directly to a stud whenever possible for the most secure mount.
  3. Mark the stud’s location with a pencil. Also mark the height you want the sconce.
  4. Use a level to draw a perfectly straight horizontal line between the stud marks at the desired height. This is your installation guideline.
  5. Put on safety goggles, work gloves, and a dust mask. These will keep you safe during installation.

Install the Electrical Box (Hardwired Sconces)

If your sconce is hardwired (not plug-in), you’ll need to install an electrical box as the power source:

  1. Trace the electrical box outline on the wall over your guideline.
  2. Cut out this section of drywall with a drywall saw or drill holes in each corner and gently knock out the drywall.
  3. Insert the electrical box into the hole and screw it securely to the stud with mounting screws. The box’s edge should be flush with the wall surface.
  4. Run the end of a Romex wire from the main electrical panel through the box knock out hole. Leave at least 6 to 8 inches of wire to make connections.

Connect the Wiring (Hardwired Sconces)

With the box installed, you can move on to the wiring:

  1. Attach the white (neutral) wire from the Romex to the silver screw on the electrical box. The green or bare copper ground wire goes to the green screw.
  2. Connect the black (hot) wire from the Romex to one of the hot screws on the sconce mounting plate.
  3. Use a wire nut to connect the other hot screw to the black wire leading to the sconce.
  4. Connect all ground wires together with a third wire nut.
  5. Tuck all wires neatly into the box to prevent pinching or crimping.

Affix the Sconce Mounting Bracket

Now you’re ready for sconce installation!

  1. Hold the sconce’s mounting plate centered over the electrical box or stud markings.
  2. Use a pencil to trace the bracket’s corners and mark the exact screw hole locations.
  3. If not drilling into a stud, use a drill bit narrower than the anchor diameter to pre-drill holes for the drywall anchors.
  4. Insert drywall anchors if needed and firmly screw the mounting plate into place through its corner holes.
  5. For sconces with side mounting brackets instead of a back plate, hold the sconce to the wall and mark where to insert drywall anchors. Pre-drill the holes and screw the brackets directly to the wall.

Install the Sconce

You’re in the home stretch! Just a few steps left:

  1. Double check that all wiring connections are secure.
  2. Carefully align the sconce backplate holes with the mounting plate or bracket screw holes.
  3. Insert the sconce attachment screws and use a screwdriver to tighten them. Don’t over tighten.
  4. Attach any dangling crystal pieces, fabric lampshades, or other decorative sconce elements like finials.
  5. Turn the power back on and test the sconce. Your beautiful new wall sconce is ready to enjoy!

Sconce Installation Tips

Follow these additional tips for foolproof sconce installation:

  • For heavy sconces, use hollow wall anchors for added support. Toggle bolts work well.
  • Wear gloves to prevent cuts from sharp metal edges behind the sconce.
  • Don’t install sconces above sinks or other wet areas unless they are specifically rated for damp locations.
  • Hardwire the sconce whenever possible for a cleaner look without a visible cord.
  • Adhere to all local electrical codes for proper, safe wiring practices.
  • Group two or more smaller sconces on a wall for increased light levels.
  • Dimmer switches allow adjustable mood lighting. Make sure the sconce is dimmer compatible first.
  • Install recessed lighting adjacent to sconces to provide soft overall illumination along with ambient style.
  • Place sconces on separate switches from overhead lights for independent control.

With the right plan and preparations, installing a wall sconce can be an easy, rewarding DIY project. Strategically place these elegant light fixtures to create the perfect decorative touch in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing a Wall Sconce

What are wall sconces used for?

Wall sconces provide beautiful accent lighting and are commonly used to illuminate hallways, accent architectural details, highlight artwork, illuminate stairwells, flank vanities, and more.

Do wall sconces need a light bulb?

Yes, most wall sconces require light bulbs which produce the illumination. Always check the fixture specifications for recommended wattage and bulb type.

Where should you place wall sconces?

Ideally, place wall sconces 5-6 feet above the floor on adjacent walls in bedrooms, living areas, and entryways. For bathrooms, flank the mirror area 40-60 inches apart.

Should you wire a sconce to a switch?

Yes, wiring the sconce through a switch allows it to be turned off independently of overhead lights for convenience and energy savings when not needed.

How do you hang a heavy wall sconce?

Heavy sconces require extra support. Toggle bolts anchored deeply in drywall work well. For very heavy fixtures, install a reinforced mounting board behind the drywall before attaching the sconce.

What height should you hang a sconce?

Most interior wall sconces should be mounted 60-72 inches above the floor for best illumination. Adjust up or down depending on your room’s specifics.

How do you connect a hardwired wall sconce?

Connect the hot wires to the sconce’s hot terminal screws, neutral wires to the neutral terminal, and all ground wires together via wire nuts inside the electrical box per local code.

Can you plug in a wall sconce?

Yes, some sconces have an electrical cord and plug for easy installation without wiring. Ensure the outlet is properly located near the sconce mounting area.

Do sconces work with dimmers?

Check the sconce specifications. Many sconces today are dimmable, allowing you to control the light level. Install a compatible dimmer switch for full functionality.

How much light do sconces provide?

Light levels vary by sconce design and bulb wattage. Typically, sconces provide ambient lighting ideal for accenting details rather than fully illuminating larger areas.


Installing a wall sconce is an easy DIY project that can make a stylish statement in your home. With the right placement, hardware, and preparations, you can safely install a plug-in or hardwired sconce in less than an hour. Ambient sconce lighting adds personality and functionality anywhere you need a soft, elegant glow. With this guide’s tips, you can confidently tackle sconce installations and enhance your rooms with beautiful new lighting.