How to Remove Ceiling Light Cover: Easy Steps and Tips

Although they’re often overlooked features of our homes, ceiling light covers actually play a huge role in making our interior aesthetics more pleasing to the eye. 

Not only do they diffuse light so that it becomes softer and more subdued, but they also add character to our favorite living spaces.

Therefore, if you want to make your home look the best that it can be, you need to pay attention to your ceiling light covers! 

Additionally, when you need to replace a light bulb or clean the light fixture, knowing how to remove the cover will be essential.

In this guide, we’ll be learning how to do just that! We’ll discuss:

  • The different types of ceiling light covers
  • Step-by-step guides for removing ceiling light covers, depending on what type you have
  • Some extra tips and precautions to consider when removing ceiling light covers.

Let’s get cracking!

How to Remove Ceiling Light Covers

Removing a ceiling light cover is a fairly simple process. Before you begin, make sure that the power to the fixture is turned off. You can then start dislodging either the screws, clips, or tabs holding the light fixture in place. Once released, gently remove the cover from the base fixture – and you’re all set!

Different Types of Ceiling Light Covers

Like most other decorations, ceiling light covers come in various different designs and styles! 

Before starting, it’s important that you understand the type of cover you have. This will make sure a successful removal without damaging the cover is possible.

Covers with Screws

The most straightforward ceiling light cover to remove are those that are held in place with screws. 

Typically, you’ll find most of these screws placed around the perimeter of the cover, securing it to the base.

Covers without Screws

Some ceiling light covers don’t have screws that attach them to the fixture base. 

Instead, they rely on other mechanisms to stay in place such as notches, springs, flush mounts, and threaded retainers. 

If you’re confident your light cover doesn’t come with screws, take a look to see what type of mechanism keeps it in place.

Covers with Clips

Ceiling light covers with clips are a special type of cover without screws. Instead of using notches or retainers, these often use spring-loaded clips to attach them to the fixture base. 

Because of this, they’re also one of the easiest covers to remove — you won’t need any tools with this one!

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Ceiling Light Covers

Since you now know the different types of ceiling light covers (and have double-checked what you have), you can start removing them! Again, this process also depends on the type of cover you have:

Removing Covers with Screws

  1. Begin by turning off the power to the light fixture at the circuit breaker (preferred) or by switching it off at the wall
  1. Gently unscrew each of the screws that hold the ceiling light cover in place. Always use a screwdriver that matches the screw type and size for safety and to avoid damaging the covers
  1. Once you have finished unscrewing, carefully lower the cover from off of the fixture base. Be careful not to drop it!

Removing Covers without Screws

  1. Begin the same way as you would with covers with screws: turn off the power to the fixture
  1. Before removing, inspect the cover closely for any notches, tabs, or clips that could be holding it in place. Typically, you can find these near the edge of the ceiling light cover
  1. Using a flathead screwdriver (or even your fingers), gently release the tabs or clips while continuously supporting the weight of the cover
  1. Once you’ve successfully loosened the tabs or clips, carefully lower the ceiling cover from the fixture. 

Removing Covers with Clips

  1. Begin by turning off the light fixture
  1. Examine the cover for the location of the clips. You can usually find these evenly spaced around the perimeter of the cover
  1. Gently remove the clips by pressing them inward or outward — this will depend on the design
  1. As the clips begin to release, carefully lower the cover from the fixture.

Tips and Precautions for Removing Ceiling Light Covers

While you might find removing ceiling light covers to be simple (and that’s because it usually is!), there are still some precautions you need to take to stay safe. 

Don’t be too complacent about the straightforwardness of it all; make sure to keep your wits about you throughout the entire process!

Use Eye Protection

This is an important tip for a lot of DIY activities around the house, and particularly when removing ceiling light covers as well. 

Dust or debris can fall during the removal process, and if your eyes are unprotected, they could become very irritated! Wearing safety glasses or goggles will prevent this from happening.

Use a Putty Knife or Pliers if Needed

If the cover seems to be stuck or difficult to remove, don’t become overly frustrated and exert more force than needed. This could damage the cover! 

Instead, use a putty knife or some pliers to help you loosen the cover, all while supporting it to keep it from dropping.

Apply Heat with a Hair Dryer or Heat Gun If Necessary

If your ceiling light cover is stuck because it was sealed with an adhesive, applying heat is a useful trick. The heat will soften the adhesive, making removal of the cover a whole lot easier. 

If you decide to use this trick, use only low to medium heat as overwhelming the adhesive can cause the cover to drop abruptly! 


Although it feels like a no-brainer, learning how to remove ceiling light covers is a handy skill that’ll help you keep your home beautiful and well-lit! 

Identifying the cover you have and following the correct removal steps will allow your fixtures to stay intact and operational.  

The safety tips in this article are also very important, even for such a simple task. At the very least, turn off the power and use eye protection before getting started! 

John Bayly

John Bayly

John has dedicated his career to the lighting industry. Starting out as an interior designer with a specialism in lighting, he went on to found his own commercial lighting business. He now shares his expertise and passion for all things lighting with readers of