The Best Lighting For Sloped Ceilings (How To Choose?)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

sloped ceiling

When you are working on remodeling your house or building a new one, there are several things that you need to consider, with slanted ceilings changing almost everything. Several lights are meant to be used specifically with slanted ceilings, while others can make them much worse. 

The best lighting for a sloped ceiling is to have track lighting along the middle of the ceiling, with several on the sides. A good secondary option to add is cable lighting spanned across the sloped ceiling, allowing the light to reach almost every corner of the ceiling.

There are several reasons that many of these lights will work the best with sloped ceilings, with many people not always realizing the limitations. I recommend that you have a good understanding of your lighting options and why normal lights won’t work for sloped ceilings. 

What Kind Of Light Do You Need For A Slanted Ceiling?

Generally, you need lights that are not as high up as normal lights, with hanging lights working much better to illuminate the entire room. Lights that are fitted directly onto or in the ceiling do not work well due to the light having to illuminate the room much further away from the actual light.

Generally, any light that is not reliant on the ceiling height for lighting up the entire room will work best, with many people making custom solutions. I’ve seen several unique solutions that work quite well in illuminating a room with a sloped ceiling. 

If you have ever been in a room with normal lights but a sloped ceiling, you will notice that one corner of the room is much darker than the others. The sloped ceiling almost seems to soak up the light that is being produced, even when you have installed some of the brightest LED lights that you could find. 

What Are The Various Lighting Options For Sloped Ceilings? (7 Options)

Now that we know what kinds of basic lights are perfect for sloped ceilings, we can start looking at all of the other types of lights. I always recommend that you have the full list of options ready for your ceilings to ensure that you always have a variety of lights available.

I’ve seen several people try to use every known light except the recommended ones, causing rooms to be much darker. Knowing what types of light will work the best with your sloped ceiling will ensure that you have a wonderfully lit home instead of something dark and menacing. 

1. Track Lighting

track lighting

To many people, track lighting is what they consider normal lights; these are lights with one connection point and several lights along a rail. These lights are perfect for working with sloped ceilings as they ensure that all the lights are on the same level. 

Further, when fitted with LEDs, the lights have become some of the brightest lights that you can put in a house as they can be pointed towards the darkest spots of a room. This has made track lighting the go-to lighting for sloped ceilings as they can be fitted all along the walls or ceiling to create the perfect lighting. 

2. Cable Lighting

Cable Lighting

One of the biggest reasons that sloped ceilings are so hard to light is because the ceiling is much higher on one end than the other. A very easy and good solution to the lighting problem has always been cable lighting, with many people preferring this type of light with larger open spaces.

Cable lighting can mean lights hung from a cable from the ceiling or lights connected to a cable that runs along the length of the room. This creates constant lights that are low down and can fill the entire room with light without buying ten sets of lights. 

3. Chandelier

chandelier shades old hotel

One of the best things that sloped ceilings allow people to do is install some larger lights that can be used in the room’s space. Sloped ceilings usually allow for much larger light fixtures to be fitted to the house or room, with many people specifically moving towards chandeliers.

Modern chandeliers come in all shapes and sizes, with several providing enough light to fill rooms of extremely large sizes. If you don’t like cable lights or track lights, you will be able to choose a chandelier that fits exactly with your aesthetic and lighting needs. 

4. Pendant Lights

Often mistaken for chain lights, pendant lights have only recently become much more commercially available for homes to be used. Along with offering a truly unique aesthetic, these lights offer much more focused lighting, making them perfect for use alongside other lights that may not be as bright.

Pendant lights are lights that have different or the same length of cable that hangs from a single point from the ceiling. They do not use chains with the light fixture hanging on the power cable, giving them a much more rustic look, with the most basic pendant lights not having any fixture at all. 

5. Ceiling Fans

ceiling fan speed

Often overlooked by home renovations, one of the best possible solutions to most rooms is ceiling fans. A basic ceiling fan will only have the fan, but some of the more unique fans will have fitted lights and work as both the fan and lighting for a room. 

These fans are usually perfect for smaller rooms with sloped ceilings that are not too high; they can be used with the angle, but they also have several lights. Most ceiling fans will be able to be put on a sloped ceiling with a limited amount of slope. Otherwise, the fans may hit the ceiling when turning. 

6. Flush Lights

Not to be confused with the much worse recessed light, flush lights are often used in recessed ceilings in hallways or longer rooms. This is because they can create a constant light that works for the room the sloped ceiling is in, with many people preferring to have several of these lights.

It should be noted that this light works by having the entire unit up against the ceiling and working with at least one other set of lights. This enables the lights to work properly and ensures that your ceiling is properly lit up while the rest of the room is properly lit throughout the night or day. 

7. Semi-Flush Lights

This is most likely the thing that everyone thinks of when thinking of basic light, and they work quite well when placed correctly on a sloped ceiling. Modern semi-flush lights come in all shapes and sizes, with several that work almost like miniature pendant lights as they hang from shorter cables.

Usually, these lights are used on sloped ceilings where the top of the ceiling does not need to be lit, with one corner of the room preferably being darker. These are often TV rooms, allowing the room to be bright along with the couch but darker where the TV is being used. 

How Do Light Fixtures Have To Adapt To Sloped Ceilings? (5 Factors)

slanted ceilings lights

Now that we know what kinds of lights work the best with your sloped ceiling, we can start looking at how lighting adapts to sloped ceilings. Many people forget that when working with sloped ceilings, there are several different ways physics work with light. 

We need to look at why certain things are happening with sloped ceilings and how the light behaves when things are moved into the house. It can be quite hard to know why a room is dark even when several lights are fitted to your room, especially when trying to light up with lamps. 

1. Light Refraction

This is the biggest reason that lights are not working with your sloped ceiling; most light designs depend on the light bouncing from the ceiling. However, these light designs assume that your ceiling is perfectly flat, which means they can bounce the light down to where people in the room are.

Sloped ceilings usually mean that one end of the room is significantly brighter than the other, as the higher point away from the light is almost sucking in the light. Many people find that sloped ceilings that are quite high will usually have another light at the sloped corner. 

2. Dark Corners

This is something that many people overlook, especially in the planning stages for a sloped ceiling; there will be many dark corners where the light is being limited. I always recommend having another light or two in the far corners from the ceiling lights with your sloped ceiling. 

This allows you to easily light up these dark corners and will ensure that your room does not feel too dark when used. Further, having lamps and other moveable lights means that you can easily turn the lights off to get the room much darker once you want to watch something.

3. Not Refracting The Light

One way that lights for sloped ceilings counteract the ceiling problem is by not refracting the light upwards. Instead, the light is made to completely refract all light to the sides and down from its position, allowing the light to easily and comfortably provide enough light.

Usually, when this is used, the light will also hang quite a bit lower than the other lights that you would normally use. This ensures that the light is not lost in the corners and darkness in the room caused by the sloped ceiling, providing much more consistent light. 

4. Lower The Total Point Of Light

This is the best way to ensure that the room is fully lit up when you have a sloped ceiling, as the light will hang far below the ceiling. This provides the proper amount of light without getting extra lights in the room to ensure that it is entirely lit up. 

We always recommend that you think of this whenever you have to work with sloped ceilings as they will be the easiest solution. The only downside to this is that the ceiling itself will be quite dark, as the light will not be refracted back up to the ceiling throughout the night or day. 

5. Spreading The Light Out Much More

The reason that flat lights on the ceiling can still work with sloped ceilings is that completely spreading the lights also works quite well. This creates too much light for a normal room, but a sloped ceiling ensures that every corner is filled with light and that the light refracts back down.

You will often find that sloped ceilings have much too many lights in them, ensuring that the lights can reach every corner. We always recommend that you consider doing this and have proper calculations for the costs of having to buy so many lights. 

What Are The Problems Of Sloped Ceilings?

sloped ceiling bedroom

There are only two main reasons why sloped ceilings have so much trouble with lights and that they have become known as such big headaches. Sloped ceilings are usually designed without proper thought given to how they have to be lit, with most people just thinking about the final aesthetic.

We will discuss why sloped ceilings are not good with light and why you must have the light properly planned out. I always recommend that you understand why something won’t work before you try to simply fix it. 

Far Away Corners

This is the biggest reason that sloped ceilings don’t work properly; the highest corners are simply too far away from the light sources to work properly. When the ceiling sloped to one corner or slopes into a triangle in the middle of the room, the corners are almost as far from the light as possible.

Often, designers try to beat this effect by simply having the light shine from these dark corners, only to cause the problem to spread more. When the lights are hanging from the darkest corner of the room, the light feels faded everywhere else. 

Absorbing More Light

A strange effect that sloped ceilings add to almost any room they are used in is that the entire room absorbs the lights. This happened because the room angles are no longer at right angles, which means that light is refracted into nothing, causing the light to be absorbed.

There are two simple solutions to overcome this: get a much brighter light that refracts so much that it properly works. Or you could get more lights that create more light throughout the room, simply put, the only way is to overpower the lights, preventing them from being absorbed. 

Conclusion

I recommend that you always consider how the light will be affected by the sloped ceiling and how much light you may need to keep it bright. The best lights ensure that the room is lit and that the ceiling is only slightly lit up to ensure that you aren’t losing light for no reason.

Remember that getting the best light is usually something that renovators only think of when they live in a house!

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.