14 Oct Recessed Lighting Trim Selection 101
Recessed lighting is so commonplace that there really isn’t a question as to whether or not to install it; however, homeowners may be baffled by the multitude of trim options that are available. Builders and contractors tend to stick to the standard white baffle trim, because they are cost efficient and they provide a room with general lighting. The problem is, not all recessed lights are installed with general lighting in mind. Since there are several different tasks a recessed lamp can provide, designers have a different trim to meet every need. We’ve provided this guide to help homeowners move beyond the standard white baffle trim, and get the most out of their recessed lighting investment.
The following is a collection of various trim options that are made available by all major fixture manufacturers. Keep in mind there are more options for 12 volt fixtures due to their reduced bulb size. The smaller the bulb, the greater the adjustability range. Along with the different trims, we will also cover their designer features, so you’ll know when it would be appropriate to use each trim.
The Baffle – This trim is the most commonly used in the industry. Residential and commercial builders alike utilize the standard white baffle trim because these items are cost efficient and they blend in seamlessly with white ceilings. For the majority, these trims are not airtight, and they are held in place by two springs; however, there is an airtight option, which is a desirable benefit from a functional perspective. As for design, baffle trims certainly have their place. In a pool room or kitchen, where the feature lighting is determined by decorative fixtures. In this case, the recessed cans will provide simple, 360 degree general lighting. The trim comes in various colors other than white, such as black, gold, and copper. A black trim would be used if the room already has a dark ceiling and you wish the draw your guests eye to the room instead of the lighting source. The black trim does diffuse the light as well so expect a reduction to the overall output. As for copper or gold trims these add a unique warmth to glow of your bulbs. The richer tone is quite unique and cannot be achieved without the exquisite trim.
The Reflector – While achieving the same 360 degree general lighting as the baffle, this trim amplifies the light output of the bulb. Typically, a reflector is used with a fluorescent fixture to increase the intensity of the light. As reflector trim would be desirable in those rooms that lack natural lighting; rooms with tiny windows, such as a basement, attic, or rec room. The trim has a smooth finish in white, chrome, brush nickel, or bronze. Each of the colors reflect and amplify the light source, providing a warm inviting tone to those rooms that lack sunlight.
Gimbal Trim – One of the most versatile trims in the recessed world, the gimbal trim allows homeowners to direct the light source with minimal intrusion into the room. This directional feature adjusts the bulbs focal point from within the recessed fixture, so you don’t have to see the bulb. These trims are perfect for accenting a piece of art on the wall, highlighting a family portrait, or brightening furniture pieces. Many homeowners miss an opportunity when they add recessed lighting because they believe the layout of the recessed fixtures needs to remain uniform. The brilliance of these fixtures truly shines when they are used to enhance the appearance of the room; don’t become absorbed with the idea that all your recessed cans need a symmetrical layout. Use 2 and 3 inch gimbal trims over sitting chairs, coffee table and side tables, and your sofa. The smaller fixtures will obscure where the light source is coming from, while illuminating your furniture. This designer trick will make your furniture look more expensive and create an alluring atmosphere. Your guests will feel welcomed into the room without being able to put their finger on why the room feels so pleasant.
Retractable Trim – Similar to the gimbal trim, the retractable provides directional lighting. The difference between the two is the degree of the angle. A retractable trim can spot light up to a 90 degree angle. This comes in handy with sloped ceilings, or when trying to aim a narrow beam spread on feature items such as sculptures, house plants, or other decorative pieces. This trim is perfect when the gimbal trim just can’t achieve the severe angle you’re looking for the complete the room.
Slot Aperture – Museum quality lighting for interior design is always a plus! This trim aims a narrow beam spread of light to perfectly illuminate pictures without ever seeing the bulb. Due to the fixtures sleek design, you can use a flush trim with a narrow slit to pinpoint the light exactly where you want it. Slot aperture trims should be used with intention to provide dramatic lighting for those statement pieces.
Wall Wash – Finally, there is the wall wash trim that combines the benefits of directional lighting with general lighting needs. This trim provides directional lighting without the ability to move the aim of the bulb. Due to the lack of adjustability, the wall wash trim can be used for accent walls or to highlight a petite decorative bar.
With all the these different trims placement and purpose play a huge role when it comes to enhancing the design of your room. Remember to go beyond symmetrical layouts and general illumination. Designers use light to make the room and the decorative elements look richer. A few small gimbal trims set on a dimmer over your furniture pieces are strategic lighting choices. Have them on full power when you want to relax and read with a glass of wine, then dim the lights for social gatherings. You’d be amazed by the allure purposeful lighting placement will create.