How to Remove Fluorescent Light Covers

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You need to know what type of cover you have on your fluorescent lights in order to remove its cover.
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To remove fluorescent light covers, you first need to identify which type of covers you have: drop ceiling, wraparound or flat. All fluorescent light covers, also called lenses or diffusers, are lightweight and have simple mechanisms holding them in place. This means you can easily remove a fluorescent light fixture on your own. The only tool you'll need is a standard A-frame ladder so that you can easily reach the light.

Removing a Drop Ceiling Light Cover

Drop ceiling fluorescent light covers are typically seen in commercial or institutional settings. The lights sit up inside the ceiling so that the cover is flush with the other ceiling panels. These frames have two levers that unlock the light cover. They lay flat when locked in place, so pull them up and out until they are at a 90-degree angle.

When both levers are unlocked, the frame will open slightly. To swing it all the way open for full access to the lights, pull the frame horizontally, away from the hinge side. This will put the light cover in the correct position to fully swing down.

From here, if you need to replace the lens, it should pop out of the frame with a gentle push from the outside.

Removing a Wraparound Fluorescent Light Cover

Wraparound fluorescent light covers are used on lights that hang down from the ceiling but don't have a decorative frame. The lens is a U shape and covers the sides and bottom of the lights. The sides of the lens sit on a ledge with a small lip, and you can push it out of place easily.

To remove a wraparound fluorescent light cover, simply grab one long side, push up, and then pull it down. Do the same with the other side.

Once you install a wraparound cover replacement or have finished replacing fluorescent light bulbs, secure one long side of the light cover over the lip, then repeat on the other side.

Removing a Flat Acrylic Cover

The other two types of fluorescent light covers discussed so far are relatively inflexible but still lightweight. A flat acrylic cover, on the other hand, is as flexible as a poster board. You'll typically find this type of fluorescent light cover in kitchens, and they always have a decorative frame to hold the cover in place.

Removing a flat fluorescent light cover requires you to push up on one end in order to create enough of a gap at the other to maneuver it out of the frame. These light covers can still break if handled roughly, but they are designed to bend when inserted and removed. If the panel seems stuck, you can gently tap around the perimeter with a soft mallet to loosen it, then try again.

Finding a Fluorescent Light Cover Replacement

Fluorescent lights that don't have a cover are often too bright for comfort. To find a fluorescent light cover replacement, measure the light fixture to get the correct size. Also, keep in mind the type of cover you're looking for, because a flat acrylic cover won't work when a wraparound cover is needed, and vice versa.

If your current cover is broken, you can take it to your local hardware store for help finding or ordering a precise replacement. You can also purchase covers in different shades to help diminish or amplify the lights' brightness.


Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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