How to Buy A Bathroom Light Fixture
Jul 12, 2022
Bathroom Lighting Buying Guide
Good task lighting can make or break a bathroom. If done poorly, your bathroom vanity lighting can produce shadows and glare and create an unpleasant appearance. As with most lighting, bathroom light fittings are best layered to give several lighting levels. It is good to have general lighting that produces light to maneuver through the room, task lighting for daily functions, and ambient lighting for a pleasant atmosphere.
A continuing trend for bathrooms is remodeling existing rooms to improve the function and value of the house. Renovating your current space can have several benefits, such as creating an area custom for your needs, creating a spa-like atmosphere where you can relax and unwind, and improving the space for daily functions. Regardless of your reason for improving the bathroom, good lighting plays a vital role in a good bathroom.
Pro Designer Bathroom Lighting Tips
Using a Ceiling Light in the Bathroom
This type of lighting provides general lighting for the whole bathroom. Sometimes the light is combined with a fan and the function trumps style. A ceiling fixture will provide enough illumination to maneuver through the room, ensuring you can see everything in it and contribute to your safety.
Bath Vanity Lighting Placement
- Try to surround the face with light to eliminate shadows under the chin, eyes, cheeks, and forehead. Usually, the light should be centered over the basin at about 66" above the floor and always, if possible, on the wall, not the ceiling. If two sinks are being used, each should have its light, do not attempt to share a light if possible. Do not rely on recessed lighting; the shadows will be horrendous.
- Pick a ceiling light that is bright enough for the entire room. Ceiling lights provide general "ambient" lighting but are not designed for tasks.
- Place ceiling lights where they may give light to as much of the room as possible. Larger bathrooms may need more than one ceiling light.
- Design Tip - Place 2 wall sconces mounted at eye level to either side of the mirror
- Mini Pendants can be hung from the ceiling if there is not enough room alongside the mirror for wall-mounted lighting.
- Mini Pendants should be hung 12" to 18" from the wall on the ceiling, and the height should be adjusted to eye level.
Flush Mount or Semi Flush in the Bathroom
- Bath Ceiling lights can be flush or, for higher ceilings semi-flush
- Flush mounts are installed on the top and generally do not hang far down. Suitable for low ceilings and sealed. It is easy to find a flush
mount with a damp rating where moisture is a concern
- Semi-flush horses hang further from the top than flush mounts, suitable for high ceilings. Semi-flushes are generally more stylish, but finding a fixture with a damp rating may be more challenging.
Bathroom Task Lighting
Task lighting in bathrooms is typically placed around the sink/vanity area to produce focused lighting for your daily tasks; shaving, applying make-up, etc. Multiple lighting is needed to ensure proper task lighting to cross-light the space and remove shadows. Think of how a flashlight placed under the face provides scary shadowing. The same can occur with one overhead vanity light; heavy clouds would appear under the eyes and face. That is why we recommend placing additional side lights on either side of the mirror. Wall sconces and pendants are being used frequently to avoid shadowing. With both vanity and side lighting, these multiple lights will cross over each other, lighting the entire area, removing shadows, and illuminating the whole space evenly. Wall Sconces or mini pendants are good sidelights to remove the unsightly shadowing effect.
Vanity Bath Lights
Vanity lights usually are placed above the mirror. The purpose of this type of lighting is to provide lighting for daily tasks. Vanity lights offer direct or indirect lighting, which can be changed by mounting the fixture upward or downward.
What Size Vanity?
- The most common vanity lights have 2-4 light bulbs but can have as many as 5-6.
Multiple light vanities provide cross-lighting to help remove shadows
- Vanity lights should be about 75% of the mirror's width; for a giant mirror or where there is more than one sink, more than one vanity light can be used
Downward Lighting vs. Upward Lighting
- Low lighting is suitable for task lighting because it casts the light directly down on the area needed. Soft lighting can be helpful in the vanity area as long as there are other lights to provide enough cross-lighting
- Upward lighting is indirect lighting that reflects off the ceiling and bounces back into the space. This light is softer and creates less shadowing and glare. It works well when the top and bathroom are light in color to reflect the light. Most Vanity Bath Lights are designed to face up or down.
- 60 to 100 watts incandescent or equivalent should be used to light the space properly
- Consider a DIMMER, especially in the Master Bath, to avoid glaring light at night, which disturbs circadian rhythms.
Bathroom Light Bulb Secrets
- Color qualities and distribution are essential in vanity lighting to reduce shadows and glare and afford the best natural look.
- Insist on a bulb that can be DIMMED, especially for Master Bathrooms. Halogen requires diffusion from the fixture to reduce glare. 75-watt Incandescent produces warm light at low levels.
- CFL fluorescent rate in the area of 80 to 90 on the CRI scale, which the Color Rendering scale considers closest to natural daylight.
- Consider LED bulbs; architectural LEDs behind mirrors or coves are incredibly cool.
- Wall Sconces or Mini Pendants make Excellent Bath Lights.
Choosing a Finish for your Bath Light
Using side lights to help cross-illuminate the task area can add a decorative touch to the bathroom and make you look better. Wall Sconces or Mini Pendants are suitable for this type of lighting because they eliminate shadows from wrinkles.