How to Make a Stretch Ceiling with Lighting: Useful Tips with Examples

Perimeter lighting, spotlights, and the effect of a floating ceiling — let’s figure out which backlight to choose if you have a stretch ceiling.

Stretch fabrics are popular for a reason: they mask an uneven surface, look stylish and modern, and you can build interesting light and hidden cornices into them. In this article, we tell and show photos of examples of how to make stretch ceilings with lighting around the perimeter or in the center: what you need to know and which lighting option to choose.


Fabrics for tensile structures can be made of PVC film or synthetic fabric. The material is stretched over a frame made of plastic or aluminum profiles.


The canvas is made of polyvinyl chloride film of different thicknesses and mounted using a special hot air gun.

Under the influence of high temperature, the PVC film is stretched, it is fixed on the profile, then it hardens into a flat surface.

The film type is unpretentious in care, is relatively inexpensive, and, most importantly, is not afraid of moisture, so it is suitable for all rooms, including the kitchen and bathroom. And if the neighbors upstairs have a flood, the film will retain all the water and save the apartment from damage. Canvases come in any color, the surface is matte, glossy, or satin.

There are drawbacks too. First of all, it is poor air conductivity, which can cause a greenhouse effect in the room. To prevent this from happening, you need to regularly ventilate the room. At the same time, the film surface does not tolerate low temperatures well, and it is also small in area, so in a spacious room you will have to connect several films.


A canvas made of a special polymer fabric is easier to mount – on clips.

It is always a matte surface that can be painted, painted, or decorated with vinyl stickers. Externally, it resembles an ordinary plastered ceiling. Suitable for rooms of all sizes.

Unlike film models, fabric models are breathable, and not afraid of cold and mechanical damage. But they will not protect against flooding, it is more difficult to take care of them, and the final cost is higher.

Construction type

In addition to the material, stretch ceilings differ in the type of construction.

Lighting can be built into each of them, so the choice comes down mostly to aesthetic preferences. There are three types:

  • Single-level – a flat, smooth surface. This is the best option for laconic modern interiors and rooms with a low ceiling – any stretch structure takes at least 35-45 mm, so the simpler it is, the better.
  • Two-level is a more complex system that is suitable for tall rooms. With the help of two-level stretch ceilings with lighting, it is convenient to zone the space without overloading it with partitions: for example, a kitchen-living room or a living-bedroom room.
  • Multi-level is a complex structure that consists of three or four levels (sometimes more). This is a designer option, which, however, is rarely used now – in a typical apartment, such a finish looks pretentious and too massive.

Stretch ceiling lighting options

In contrast to the standard plastered surface, the canvas on the frame provides more opportunities for the design of lighting.


The LED strip runs along all four sides of the canvas.

Depending on the size of the room and the power of the bulbs, this option can be either an auxiliary or the main light. If the room is large, one or more lights inside the structure are added to the LED strip around the perimeter.

The advantage of such lighting is that it can be installed at any time, even after the structure is mounted on the frame. It is enough to fix a self-adhesive strip with diodes on the surface – the main thing is to do it evenly. In order to remove the tape later, if necessary, you can not glue it directly to the canvas, but fix it on the cable channel.

If you install the lighting during the renovation phase, the tape must be glued to the base floor. It is better to paint it white so that the light is beautifully diffused. Next, hide the power supply and the wire leading to it so that it can be accessed in case of breakage, but out of reach of children and animals. You can cover this part with a cable duct, or wallpaper or hide it behind a cabinet.


Lamps can also be placed inside the canvas.

There are several options:

  • Recessed — spots are mounted in the ceiling plane, completely or partially “drowning” in it. They are almost invisible, so the design is as simple as possible: body, mount, and bulb. This type is often used to decorate a stretch ceiling with lighting in the kitchen.
  • Pendant – a hook is installed in the ceiling, to which the pendant lamp is attached. To do this, a hole is made in the stretch ceiling, through which a cord is pulled. The mount can be point, linear (several luminaires on a rectangular base), or circular.
  • Overhead – the shade is fixed on the canvas using a special platform. Such lamps weigh little, you can choose any design: from the simplest to imitation of precious metals.
  • LED strips can be laid out in shapes (zigzags, triangles, circles, etc.) or go in an even stripe. The second option is suitable for elongated rooms. For example, you can run a ribbon centered along a narrow corridor to indicate a direction.
  • Starry Sky Effect – LEDs are attached to the base in a chaotic order. As a result, when turned on, they shine beautifully through the canvas. This option looks especially impressive on a black ceiling.


Hidden lighting gives a unique effect of a floating ceiling, making it visually taller.

Often, a curtain rod is also hidden there, enhancing this feeling. This option is suitable for rooms of all sizes, and especially for small ones. Usually, hidden light is used as an additional light, as its main purpose is to create a soft chamber glow.

To make such lighting, you will need a special cornice that will hide the LED strip. Most often, it is made of drywall, and this material does not like humidity, so hidden light is used in the living room, bedroom, nursery or hallway. In the bathroom and in the cooking area, the structure will deteriorate faster due to constant exposure to moisture and steam.

You can make a stretch ceiling with an LED strip hidden in a niche both with the help of specialists and on your own. In the second case, you need to prepare a drawing of niches, fix special profiles on the surface, install sheets of plasterboard on this frame, and place the LED strip inside the structure. You can also hide the power supply there.

In addition to drywall, a polyurethane cornice is suitable for the installation of such lighting. It is attached to a pre-plastered surface around the perimeter, usually with liquid nails, and tape is laid inside.


Different lighting sources are suitable for the design of a backlit ceiling.

LED Strip Light

One of the most popular options. A long cable with many small LEDs that are distributed so that you can cut the tape anywhere. It is sold, as a rule, in coils of several meters. Suitable for any type of lighting: perimeter, concealed, or indoor. Examples of designs with an LED strip can be found in the photo below.


These are small pendant lights that can be pointed in any direction, which makes them look like a mini version of spotlights.

They are attached either pointwise or several pieces on an elongated base. They use incandescent, halogen, and LED lamps. The latter are now the most popular option due to their characteristics.

Spots are used as the main and local lighting. Thanks to their mobility, it is easy to highlight a specific area. For example, in the hall, stretch ceilings with such light will look good over the dining group or sofa area. They are also suitable for small rooms: bathroom, corridor, dressing room. Visually, they can be inconspicuous, in the color of the finish, or, on the contrary, accent. For example, spots on a graphic black base look spectacular and stylish.


The simplest type is conventional spotlights, most often recessed or surface-mounted.

There are miniature models that are suitable for small rooms (pantry, bathroom, dressing room) or to create the effect of a starry sky. Since they are close to the tension structure, it is better to choose energy-saving bulbs for them that do not heat up and will definitely not damage the surface.

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