As soon as the sun begins to set, most decks suddenly become useless. Without lighting, deck areas can feel dark, uninviting, and hazardous at night. But with a strategic installation of string lights, you can completely transform your deck into a gorgeous oasis that encourages relaxation and entertaining long after sunset.
String lights add a magical, festive ambiance to evening gatherings on your deck. Friends and family will delight in dining, conversing, or lounging under a canopy of soft, sparkling light. Creative lighting arrangements can accentuate the best architectural and decorative features of your deck. String lights also provide visibility and security for moving around the deck safely at night.
With the right string light design and installation techniques, you can unleash your deck’s full potential for beauty and enjoyment during the warmer seasons. Read on for useful tips, inspiration, and products that will help you create a comfortable, stylish lighting plan. Let’s discover how to maximize those long summer nights with a well-lit deck!
Choose the Perfect String Lights for Your Deck
You’ll first want to decide on the ideal string lights for your specific deck size, design, and usage. Carefully consider these factors when making your selection:
Pick Durable, All-Weather String Lights
Since the lights will be exposed to the elements year-round in most climates, only choose string lights rated for outdoor use. Compare specifications and warranties to determine the best product for durability. Commercial-grade lights are sturdier than standard residential lights.
LED string lights will withstand weather and last longer without bulb replacements than incandescent options. For spaces without outlets, solar string lights can be convenient. Look for weather-resistant casings, timers, remote controls, and extra-sturdy light clips.
Calculate the Length You’ll Need
Measure the linear footage around your deck railing then triple that length for the string lights you’ll buy. The excess length allows for wrapping strands tightly and installing lights in decorative arrangements. It’s better to have too much than too little. You can always wrap excess lights neatly underneath railings.
Opt for the maximum single continuous strand available so you avoid connecting shorter strands. Connector points tend to be vulnerable. Commercial-grade lights come in extra long lengths from 25 feet to 150 feet or more.
Factor in Your Electrical Load and Power Options
Add up the wattage of all your string lights to determine the electrical load. Standard residential outdoor outlets can handle about 1500 watts safely. Avoid overloading circuits or use heavy-duty outdoor extension cords as needed.
Hardwired installation of new outlets is an ideal option for larger lighting plans. There are also creative ways to conceal cords and power sources like outdoor-rated cable covers leading to discreet connection boxes.
Choose Bulb Size, Shape, and Spacing
Mini lights with smaller bulbs placed closer together provide more sparkle and illumination. Larger bulbs like Edison styles make more of a bold, decorative statement. Focus lights along railings and stairs for safety, but also accentuate posts and architectural highlights.
The spacing, shape, size, and light color you select will define the ambiance. Choose what best suits the mood you want to achieve.
Installation Methods for Deck Railing String Lights
How you install string lights on your deck depends on the railing material. Here are some recommendations:
Stapling Lights to Wood Deck Railings
Use an outdoor-rated staple gun with galvanized and stainless steel staples to secure string lights. Test on a hidden spot first to adjust stapler pressure.
Wrap the strand tightly around corners and posts. Place staples about every 6 to 12 inches alongside the wires, hugging them snugly to prevent punctures.
Follow the contour of the railing to keep lights straight. Check occasionally that staples and lights are flush.
Clipping Lights Onto Metal Deck Railings
Adhesive-backed clips designed for wiring and cables work great on metal railings. Look for outdoor-rated clips, preferably with silicone gel for superior holding power.
Clean railings thoroughly before adhering clips every 12 to 16 inches. Run strands neatly along the clips, pressing firmly to maximize adhesion. For extra security, gather strands together with small S-hooks.
Creative Mounting Ideas
In addition to the standard techniques, get creative with your installation! Weave strands vertically through balusters or diagonally across the railing. Wrap posts in spirals. Use clips, hooks, and zip ties for attaching lights in any configuration you desire.
Hide excess cord and extension cables by running them neatly along framing, under decking, behind planters, or underground. Extension cords can be covered with outdoor-rated cable protectors.
Deck String Lighting Design Inspiration
The arrangement possibilities for string lights are endless! Use these ideas to create beautiful designs that enhance your deck’s ambiance:
Strategic Lighting Placement and Patterns
Luminate stairways, walking paths, and seating areas for safety and visibility. Outline architectural accents like railings, posts, and benches to showcase their form.
Vary lighting densities in sections – disperse mini lights generously throughout some zones and spotlight focal points with larger bulbs.
Crisscross or zigzag lights from diverse angles to add depth. Try wrapping posts or coiling lights spirally for captivating effects.
Complement with Decor Extras
Supplement string lighting by placing flameless candles, paper lanterns, potted plants, and uplighting fixtures at strategic points along the deck. These elements enhance the magical ambiance.
Arrange cushioned seating, rugs, centerpieces, drinkware, and other accessories in illuminated zones. This invites people to gather and linger in the best-lit spots.
Festive Party Lighting
Drape string lights overhead between posts to create a canopy, illuminating the area below. Outline buffet tables, bars, or food stations to focus attention.
Hide spotlights behind plants and statues to cast dramatic uplighting. Use strings with programmable light shows for added pizzazz at special events.
Set the mood with music, scented candles, and decorative touches to transform your deck into an outdoor party oasis after dark.
Caring for Your Deck String Lights
With proper care and maintenance, string lights can decorate your deck for many years. Follow these tips to maximize their lifespan:
For permanent installations, ensure all lighting components are rated for full weather exposure and year-round outdoor use. Commercial-grade LED lights will withstand the elements best.
For seasonal use, carefully store string lights over winter. Wind lights around plastic reels or cardboard tubes to prevent tangling. Place lights in sealed bins with desiccant packs.
Replace burned out bulbs promptly to maintain even lighting. Check wires for damage monthly and repair loose connections or worn sections with electrical tape immediately.
Use remote controls, timers, and dimmers to manage lights conveniently while saving electricity. Set schedules to turn lights on/off automatically.
Following the manufacturer’s usage and maintenance instructions will keep your string lights glowing. Handle lights gently and keep connector points dry.
String lights are an inexpensive way to completely transform your deck into a gorgeous nighttime oasis. With LED technology and weatherproof products lasting for years, string lights are a smart investment to extend outdoor living seasons.
So don’t let your beautiful deck go to waste after dark this year! By following this guide and getting creative with lighting arrangements, you can craft a comfortable ambiance for evenings filled with fun and relaxation. Your deck will become a glowing haven to share laughter and connection under the stars.
Dazzle your guests and add beauty to your outdoor space by lighting up your deck’s full potential with string lights this season. Let the magic begin at sunset!