How to Hang String Lights on Your Deck
String lights can transform your outdoor living space in an instant. They bring light and warmth and elevate the ambiance of your deck, turning it into a cozy oasis in your backyard. In addition, they turn any garden or deck space into an ethereal, dreamy space perfect for hanging out.
In terms of home improvement projects, hanging string lights are typically inexpensive. Not to mention, numerous DIY projects require minimal materials and don’t take up too much time to complete. Depending on your deck size and how you want to hang the string lights will determine the amount of supplies you will need. Below, learn more about places to hang string lights, materials, and more.
Choose Where To Place the Lights
Get creative and let your imagination run wild before deciding where to hang your lights. The sky’s the limit, but a few popular examples would be:
- On poles: This is popular for renters or smaller deck spaces. It’s easy to wrap string lights around poles and place the poles in the areas you’d like.
- On your wall deck: Consider bordering your outside deck with lights on the wall or make a statement with a waterfall effect by draping a few rows of lights below each other.
- Around your railings/stairs: light up your deck’s parameters by stringing lights around your railing and stairs. It creates a lit-up border that brings an ethereal glow to everything around it.
- Around trees: Trees and other greenery in your backyard provide an optimal and super easy placement to string lights around. It lights up the backyard and adds a whimsical feeling all around.
- Draped on pergolas/gazebos: Like trees, pergolas, and gazebos provide the structure needed to string lights on with minimal tools. Plus, keeping the lights in one location adds a dreamy atmosphere to your covered patio.
These are just the most popular places to hang them, but there are a dozen more areas and ways to hang your string lights. So get creative and choose the one that suits your vision best.
Typical Materials & Tools Needed
With hanging outdoor string lights, you’ll most likely need these materials and tools to complete the job:
- Commercial-grade outdoor string lights
- Extension cords
- Metal hooks and eyes
- Tape measure
Depending on how you’d like to set up your string lights, and the deck space you have, will depend on the amount and type of materials you will need for this project. For example, if you have an existing structure to hang your string lights, you will not need to purchase wooden or metal poles. However, if you don’t, you will likely need to buy poles, cable ties, planters or weighted buckets, and more.
Stringing lights with and without poles requires different tools and materials. So does stringing lights across a small or large space. For those larger spaces, consider purchasing a string light suspension kit. This comes with everything you need to string your lights, such as clamps, wire cables, suspension wires, turnbuckles, snap hooks, and more.
Overall, depending on your chosen route, most of these supplies will be available at your local hardware store. So now, dive deeper into the materials needed for this easy DIY, so you’re properly equipped with the right supplies.
Material 1: String Lights
You can only hang your string lights if you purchase strands of string lights and bulbs. As mentioned above, you must buy commercial-grade patio string lights for outdoor use. Manufactured to hold up through inclement weather, this type of light has longevity in the outdoors. Unfortunately, these do not come with light bulbs, so you must purchase separate bulbs. Strands state how many bulbs it can have, but we recommend purchasing additional ones.
Consider incandescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The bulbs differ in temperature range, affecting their color to a soft or cool light. If you would like to play with the size and shape, Edison bulbs are a popular choice as they are traditionally bigger and have a unique, vintage feel with their tightly coiled and visible filament design. Overall, there are tons of light bulbs to choose from, so get creative and find the ones that best suit you.
Material 2: Poles
String light pole heights can vary, but 10-foot-long wooden or metal poles are typically needed. Once you’ve mapped out the area you’d like to string the lights across, determine how many poles will need to be stationed to achieve this. If your deck has no deck railings, purchase sturdy planters or weighted buckets to insert the pools. You can insert a PVC pipe slot in the center of each weight to secure the pole.
Material 3: Outdoor Extension Cords
In most cases, your string lights won’t be able to reach an outlet easily. Therefore, an outdoor extension cord is necessary for the light’s power source. Each string light typically has male and female outlets to string together. In most cases, five strands are strung together for shorter strands, and longer strands string together 3-5 times. Remember when identifying and estimating how many strands are needed for your extension cord to reach both your strands and outdoor outlet.
Material 4: Hooks and Screws
With any construction project, you need proper hooks and screws. We recommend purchasing cup hooks and industrial screws. Cup hooks can be easily installed in various locations. To ensure that these are properly secured and not going anywhere, buy the right screws for the right job.
Steps to Hang the Lights on a Deck or Railing
Let’s cover the steps on how to hang string lights. With these steps, you can learn how to hang string lights on a deck, deck railing, string light poles, and more. This detailed tutorial will walk you through everything you’d need to know.
Step 1: Create a Clean Space
Ensure you clean your deck and decide where to hang your string lights. This prep step helps ensure you have the right supplies and a power source will be nearby.
Step 2: Map out your String Light Configuration
Tying into the first step, correctly measure where your string lights will hang from. Mapping out the distance each strand of lights will hang from ensures you have the right supplies. Essentially, it gets a sense of the strands and light bulbs needed.
Step 3: Place your Poles and Mounts
While planning your string light configuration, you can identify the focal points to insert the poles. Then, mapping out where the lights will hang will form the foundation to mount the string lights so they will hang securely. If you’d have trees, a pergola, or a gazebo, this is where you would only need to secure the mounts straight into them. However, those without existing structures must take their weighted buckets or planters and install the poles into them, either with or without a PVC pipe.
Step 4: Install Mounting Hardware or Suspension Wire
Depending on how secure you’d like the string lights to hang, you can hang them on their own or with a suspension wire. Mounting to a wire isn’t necessary, but if you are in a region that experiences heavy winds, then a suspension wire would be beneficial.
Without a wire: screw cup hooks into the pole or existing structure. This will be used as a mount to string the strands across.
With a wire: as mentioned above, you will need to purchase a suspension hardware and cable wire kit. It comes with everything you need, and you simply need to follow the instructions as stated.
Step 5: Hang your Patio Lights
You can now put the lights up following the configuration you’ve laid out. With the outdoor outlet or extension cord, plug your string lights into them and set the first light bulb next to the mounting hardware. If everything looks good, you can go ahead and unplug the lights and proceed with hanging the rest of the strand. If you’ve installed the lights with a suspension wire, you can clip them onto the wire to secure them. After that process has been repeated and done, you are all set to plug in the string lights, and viola! You are finished.
Advantages of Adding String Lights to a Deck
Adding string lights to your deck gives you a lit-up outdoor living space all year round. No longer will the darkness be the cause for lost fun, as a brightly lit space helps keep the entertainment going on outdoors. In addition, they bring an appeal to the home that most homeowners look for and can elevate the space anytime, anywhere.