Profile picture for archphoto

Which is better for home value- recessed lighting or surface mounted lighting?

I currently have recessed lighting in the hallways and kitchen, as well as one in the livingroom.  I replaced the ones in the bedrooms with fairly inexpensive surface mounted lights because the cans didn't throw enough light, but I am wondering about the rest of the house.  Which do most people prefer?  We aren't planning on selling anytime soon, but I am just curious as to which is "better"

Thanks!

  • January 13 2009 - Seattle
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Answers (33)

PacificBayConstruction.com

Hi there,
My husband agrees recessed lighting is very versatile but placement is important due to joists and rafters that can be in the way. I also think style of the home is important. We have a 1929 Tudor and I wouldn't want can lights in the traditional areas of the home. In the remodeled master suite, bathroom and basement we did the recessed lighting with dimmers. We also put our many of our surface lights on dimmers.
In general, there are 3 classifications of lighting: 1.Ambient-soft, general illumination, 2.Task-work-related lighting and 3.Accent-directed illumination for highlighting. Ideally you should use all 3 in a room.

  • March 15 2010
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After reading fellow contributions...
flexibility prevails in both efficiency and practicality.

However, I am a huge fan of indirect lighting in the bedroom areas and would suggest that you make some considerations for ambiance, dimming and effectiveness without seeing the fixtures at all.
...
Remember... when it comes to lighting, it's the Effect that you are truly LQQKING to achieve!
  • March 11 2010
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Do what you like, especially if it's going to be sometime before you sell.  Seeing as when you do sell, what we consider "updated" lighting may place your's as "out dated" by then.

Enjoy your home & put the lights in it that you like the best. What's affordable & looks good that you appreciate;)

  • February 16 2010
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Profile picture for Melody91
Above photo is an excellent example of COMBINING.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

Combining areas for Tasks is always that way to go, as long as it pleases...YOU, if not for immediate sale.
  • February 16 2010
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I like recessed lighting for target work areas, for highlighting artwork or architectural features, but I think that it can feel cold and distant in large rooms and can make them look a bit sterile. Recessed lighting can also look out of place in older homes if used to the exclusion of other types of traditional lighting. Personally, I like the mix of some recessed and some mounted lights. I think it adds flexibility and can also add warmth to larger areas by diffusing light in a softer way. It also gives you a chance to use lights to "showcase" areas like an eating area, office nook or dining room.
  • February 16 2010
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It all depends on the style of the house and the ceiling heights. I think recessed is the way to go 9 out of ten times.   here are some pictures of some jobs with both types of lighting mostly recessed.

http://sup-remodeling.com/index.php?page=alias
  • February 16 2010
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  • February 15 2010
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Recessed Lighting without a doubt.
1. fixtures that are surface mount take up space and make a room look smaller.
2. surface mounted fixtures are chosen by taste and is may not cross from home seller to home buyer.
3. recessed can omit much more light allowing you to dim the lights saving energy and create ambiance or effect.
4. darker fixtures really can make a room look small.
5. if you do get recessed lighting, choose white to have it blend into the ceiling so it doesn't appear to have holes in the ceiling.
6. recessed lighting is better made. fewer repairs.
7. is there really a surface mount fixture everyone likes?
8. you can upgrade recessed lighting
9. recessed lighting lights up a room in a more consistently while surface fixtures have issues with lighting effect.
10 recessed lighting will use less wattage or energy and light up better.
11. due to the number of recessed can installations there will always be ways to make the lighting more efficient,..  be it LED, incandescent with nice dimming controls or ?
reading below and countering,....

recessed cans are insulated and are much more efficient.

as for the screams remodel, it couldn't be further from the truth.
Many homes built in the last 25 years have recessed lighting when built.  I do mean the high high end best of the best homes. ( Malibu, West L.A., Southern California multimillion dollar homes )  The only things that screams in a house is an ugly unsightly poorly chosen hideous surface mounted light fixture appearing to be chosen by a decorator pressed for time.
Make sure you get a qualified Electrician who knows what he is doing to do the install and layout.  Look for an owner, electrical contractor and check their license with the state prior to making the first call.
That's just my opinion, but I have been doing it for 25 years and I know how one does their Home Lighting, scene lighting, and home automation make a house a beautiful home.

Harold
  • February 11 2010
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all depends on the home and what the lighting is for...think twice, measure twice and cut once.. you know the rule...good luck
  • January 31 2010
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Profile picture for Dave Closterman
I am a building effeciency consultant.  From my point of view the surface mounted lights are better because they are not creating "holes" in the envelope or barrier of your house.
Effiency aside I see recessed lights as being more popular here in Pa, but also see a slow change as people are becoming more aware of and better educated on Energy Efficiency.
Dave
  • January 17 2010
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Profile picture for AlexShek
If you are not planning to sell anytime soon, do what you like esthetically and enjoy it for many years.

I agree with Melody91 - The #1 Person or People for WHOM & HOW to CHOOSE decor is to - "DO WHAT PLEASES YOU! "
  • January 17 2010
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Profile picture for Melody91
 Hello again.


There are ALSO half/cans available, that could focus on one's library or artwork (I prefer with dimmers) that would prevent any use to the room from being too bright or glaring, so one CAN control own atmosphere, as much as is currently possible...e.g. for a quiet mellow dinner or vising atmosphere.

If it's for a child's birthday party, forget the dimmers 'SOME.' I also think overly bright lights may be somewhat overstimulating to many children.
Other than that, I prefer & suggest to do a sensible variety of lighting types that is both tasteful & within your budget; ergo, any one potential buyer will 'like something, in at least one aspect of your lighting.'

Most of the experts on HGTV agree, unless planning an immediate sale, it's your home and- ENJOY it.

If one lives on the 10-20 year ahead model, which we can not anticipate, it can be both frustrating & futile, PLUS....You many not enjoy your abode. That pleases No One including yourself.

The good folks at HGTV also agree:
The #1 Person or People for WHOM & HOW to CHOOSE decor is to - "DO WHAT PLEASES YOU! "
  • January 14 2010
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People want the room to be well-illuminated for a variety of uses. And, by the time you sell, your lighting solution will be outdated!
  • January 13 2010
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Changing the trim on the can lights and adjusting the lamp up or down in the can will make a differance in the amount of light it will produce along with bulb type wattage and flood or spot. It depends on how much money that you want to spend. This is an inexpensive start.
  • January 13 2010
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Profile picture for wpeng5040
I do both.  Multiple Recessed Lighting surround the main ceiling light in the kitchen.  Like many people already said.  You need to place the recessed light can in the right place to get your money worth.
  • January 11 2010
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Recessed in most of the house, pendants in the kitchen.
  • April 28 2009
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Recessed Lighting doesn't scream remodel unless it was done wrong.  Recessed lighting has been around since the 40's.  The catch to recessed lighitng is that it has to be layed out correctly or its not worth it.  A standard sized bedroom needs 4 cans in a square pattern to look good and provide adaquate light.  Hall ways should have 1 can for every 5' of length .  These are good general lighting practices. 

I have done entire houses in recessed lighting and they look great.  Remodel or new constrution doesn't matter.  Its the effect you create and whether it is appropriate for the room. 
  • April 28 2009
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Profile picture for shelights
Good lighting is about layering. Quality recessed lighting laid out properly can add drama and ambiant lighting levels into a space, but it should never be the only source of light. Inexpensive recessed cans that do not provide cutoff (i.e.: glare-bombs) from the lamps (bulbs) should not be used, nor screw in compact fluorescent. This is what "cheapens" a home.

Layer recessed lighting with sparkling or glowing decorative fixtures, great task lamps or undercabinet fixtures, and accent lighting on special features is what adds drama to a space, and provides interest.

Recessed lighting should be laid out to light walls, and accent tables and art. If you have light colored walls, the reflected light should provide added footcandles into the space and add local task lighting where you need it.

My advice, don't expect any one source to provide all of your illumination, especially from 1 single surface mounted fixture. Also, forget any conversion kits if you want to improve the value of your house, just go to a better quality remodel housing with Halogen PAR lamps.

I agree wholeheartedly with the person that suggested dimmers.... I never design a home without every load being dimmed. Better yet.... lighting control systems are a HUGE value to homes.... people love technology!

Good luck!
  • April 03 2009
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Profile picture for surfside2000
In case you don't like the look of recessed lighting, some recessed lighting manufacturers actually make a conversion kit for their fixtures which will allow you to install a surface mounted fixture over the recessed. Check with the manfacturer. The name should be inside the can or on the trim.
  • March 25 2009
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I suggest to try recess , pendant and also modern track light depends of many factors but to improve value I recomand to add dimmer switch , you save money on electricity and also you can adjust intensity of light.
  • March 23 2009
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I think its important to stay with the style of your home. I use the reveal bulbs in my cans and they make the hardwoods look beautiful and ultimately brighten things up a bit. Also by changing out the trim rings alone can be a new look.
  • March 19 2009
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Ask the pros  Arch, Check out the attached link. There are many opinions (all are good).  This site will get you in the right direction with many what to do to help Boost your homes value, including lighting recomendations.

Good luck,
Linda
  • March 19 2009
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Profile picture for Melody91
I personally have just used a combination of the recessed lights; new stylish varying heights of two pendants over a kitchen peninsula; a spiffy modern chandelier in the dining area; under-counter lights; under cornice lights; spotlights on artwork...and did as many as possible with dimmers.

The variety is both interesting  and refreshing; and can also appeal to many tastes. I think it is wise to do varied approaches; and even to use to new snake lights on shelves to illuminate family mementos or collected pieces you may want to fave light focused on for display purposes. I also added sconces in some rooms, and some with updated fans with lights in them.  The variety gives a new flavor of modernity&character to the house, which all who enter comment on almost immediately.

My question to this question is: Why does it have to be one OR the other?

Someone once told me I seem to decorate 'outside the box' and I didn't understand it for a long time. Now I do, and think that has something to recommend it, as long as it is not garish or loud; rather to be varied and also understated with casual elegance. All the same as every other house, is in my humble estimation, 'Boring.'
  • March 19 2009
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Surface mount is more easily converted by new buyers.  Recessed, in my opinion, can be very nice, and even give a high end customized look if done correctly and well laid-out.

  • February 25 2009
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Your cans should have a wing nut adjustment to lower the bulb flush with the ceiling.  Then, they make bulbs that throw light to all different degrees.  I had four recessed lights in my kitchen when I bought this home.  I put in four, dual light, adjustable surface mounted lights with 50 watt CFL's.  It's what makes you happy.  When you go to sell, lighting is not an issue, fixtures are easily replaced.

  • February 20 2009
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Profile picture for Jon Petersen
maybe its the area im in. Here the quickest thing to lose value are the things that date it. As long as you keep with the origional style with your updates, it should be fine, in my opinion. But Im not the buyer.
  • February 20 2009
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I like cans too but not in a 1920's house.  Upgrades are like a snowball effect, once you do one thing, it makes the rest look bad, then you do something else and so on. 

Some of the homes I've seen go for top dollar are the most original ones.  This even holds true for 1960's homes in my area.  Last year I had 4 buyers that were looking for 1960's homes that were NOT hacked with "updates".  Luckily I managed to find one for each of them but it was 1 in 200 for all of them. 

Don't be so quick to toss that "dated" light fixture unless it wasn't original to the era in the first place.
  • February 19 2009
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Profile picture for Jon Petersen
I disagree. Screaming remodel tells me that its updated. I think its a good thing. I like cans.
  • February 19 2009
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To add to what Chris said:  In a house over 30 years old, recessed lighting screams REMODEL and that's not something you want to be screaming right now because no one wants to feel like it's factored into the price they are paying for the home.

Did you try different lightbulbs and/or can trims in the areas that weren't bright enough?  If you are using CFL bulbs, some of those really suck for brightness and throw distance.  If you are using incandescents, perhaps you have spot bulbs and you may want to try floods.  Make sure the depth of the light is set correctly to the trim so you aren't cutting off any light with the trim ring.
  • February 16 2009
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Profile picture for Chris Huydic
Depending on the style of the house and the buter, there typically is not a right or wrong answer to this question.  Some buyers like recessed lights and put a higher value on those but others like surfaced mounted lights.  The biggest determining factor is teh style of the house.  For example, if the house is more contempory, than recessed lights are the better choice.  If the house is older then 30 years old then surfaced lights are typically the better choice
  • February 16 2009
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