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In Focus: Flush and Semi-Flush Mounted Lights

In Focus: Flush and Semi-Flush Mounted Lights

Semi-Flush fixture in hallway

In the first part of our series, we learned how to increase the dynamics of a room with different types of track lighting. The remainder of our series will focus on the more customary staples of home lighting:  ceiling light fixtures. Ceiling lights can mean any lighting mounted directly above your head, so pendants and even chandeliers are included in that category. Nevertheless, let’s begin with the more garden variety sort of fixture typically found in every room, known as flush and semi-flush mounted lights. Flush and semi-flush fixtures are some of the most popular lighting fixtures for the widespread illumination of a room. When you think about overhead lighting, these fixtures will come to mind. They can do a lot to provide ambient light because of their broad coverage area. Flush and semi-flush fixtures are also practical for low ceilings and areas of high traffic like the kitchen, foyer, or bedroom. Even though flush and semi-flush mounted are both considered close-to-ceiling lights and are somewhat interchangeable, there are a few situations where one option would be the better choice.

Types of Ceiling Light Fixtures

Scalloped Champagne Flush Mount Fixture

Flush Mount. Flush mount fixtures are directly installed into the ceiling without a chain or stem. There is little to no gap between the light fixture and the ceiling. They are considered the least conspicuous type of ceiling fixture, often designed to go unnoticed. Flush mount works especially well with low-ceiling spaces. The optimal conditions for a flush fixture are with a ceiling height of less than eight feet. Examples of rooms that offer limited space and have low ceilings are hallways, closets, laundry rooms, or bathrooms.

Antique Brass and Gold, Glass Shaded Semi-Flush Fixture

Semi-Flush Mount. Semi-flush means that the ceiling lights that attach to the ceiling with a stem or extension that creates a gap between the ceiling and the light. Usually, these extensions allow the fixture to hang less than a foot away from the ceiling. For higher ceilings, about eight to ten feet, semi-flush lights become an option. An advantage of these fixtures is the lower height makes it easier to change bulbs. Semi-flush lighting also gives the illusion of a higher ceiling by throwing light up onto the ceiling as well as down into the room. This effect can open up a small room and convey a feeling of more space.

Ceiling lights with lights

Since flush and semi-flush fixtures are already close to the ceiling, you can also find a wide range of lights with ceiling fans. Purchasing a ceiling fan with lights allows you combine atmosphere control with your main illumination. We cover the kinds of characteristics to consider when buying a ceiling fan in our 3-part, Ceiling Fan Buyers’ Guide. It is important to examine your ceiling height the same way you would when mounting a regular flush or semi-flush light. A combination fan and light will need a little more room than what a semi-flush fixture requires.


Regardless of whether you choose flush, semi-flush, or even a ceiling fan and light combo, the best feature about close-to-ceiling lights is the vast selection of styles. Dome-like flush mounted lights are common, but fixtures are available in an endless assortment of shapes and sizes. Rectangular or round, shaded in crystal or glass, craftsman or modern, there is a fixture to fit the aesthetic of your room. Semi-flush fixtures share the same extensive set of choices with the exception that multiple lights are the accepted norm. While similar to their longer-legged pendant and chandelier cousins, you receive a petite-sized portion of the spectacle a chandelier can incur, without needing a cherry picker to hang your new fixture.

Next up, part three of our series tackles pendant lighting and what makes them different from chandeliers. Opinions about flush versus semi-flush mounting, inquiries for fixtures shaped like the seashell from the Little Mermaid, and footnotes about the 100-year history of the ceiling light can be recorded below. As always, our vivacious yet refined staff at 1000Bulbs.com is expectantly anticipating your call for more classical lighting.

Lighting in the News - October 2015

Lighting in the News - October 2015

How to Create Outdoor Lighting Effects

How to Create Outdoor Lighting Effects