Summer is our favorite season. Why, you ask? Because everything we do here at SRI Decks is about creating that extraordinary outdoor space where you can unplug and unwind. And it just doesn’t get any better than a warm summer night, a cool drink, and great friends enjoying each other’s company out on the deck.
The lighting on your deck, patio, or pergola can make all the difference between creating the ambiance of a magical starry evening and sitting with your guests in a dreary, dimly lit outdoor space. Your deck is an extension of your living area, as well as the personal style of your home. You wouldn’t just put a single standing lamp in your family room and call it good, so why would you skimp on illuminating your deck? The short answer is, you shouldn’t.
Here are seven great ways you can use lighting this summer to elevate your deck and other outdoor spaces from weary to whimsical. As some are more complex than others, we divided them into two categories:
Easy – No matter if your outdoor structure is brand new or 20 years old, these types of lights are quick and easy to install.
1. String and other forms of hanging lights are relatively inexpensive and not just for the holidays. There is so much you can do with these lights. Wrap them around the rails of your deck or overhanging trees, or hang them from the beams of your pergola. String lights come in almost every shape and size imaginable, including large and small Christmas tree lights, vintage bulbs, and even red and green jalapeno peppers.
2. Cordless under-table and under-railing lighting is easy to install and also comes in many varieties and styles. If you have an outdoor grill and cooking area, lighting under the serving area will help everyone see what they’re doing—no more grabbing the flashlight to see if the meat is done grilling.
3. Whether solar-powered, battery-operated, or candlelit, all forms of lanterns lend a sense of historical magic to any space. Lanterns were initially designed as protective wood and glass enclosures to keep your light source from going out due to wind, rain, or snow. Today, they are mainly used as decorative sources of subtle illumination, hearkening us back to a simpler time without modern society’s distractions.
4. Solar deck post cap lights work much like the solar ground stake lights you put along the pathway to your front door. Easy to install and reasonably luminescent, they provide enough light to make your deck enjoyable and inviting. These types of lights do not guarantee uniform lighting, though, as how much they shine depends on the strength of the solar charge. Each light functions on its own, so if one of the posts isn’t in direct sunlight, don’t be surprised if that light doesn’t work when the sun goes down.
More Complicated – The following lighting options are easiest to place while you’re building your deck, as recessed and hanging low-voltage lights require extensive wiring. It’s not impossible to retrofit your existing deck with wired lighting. Still, you may want to hire a Colorado outdoor carpentry professional to ensure the wiring works and is properly concealed. You don’t want to see tons of wires strung along the outside of your railing or hanging from under your deck floor (unless you have a ground-level deck and they’re hidden).
5. Stair lighting is a must-have for any deck where you and your guests will be going up and down to different levels. Thankfully, putting lights on your deck steps is relatively simple to do if you have a nearby outside outlet. You’ll need a tape measure, a drill or saw to make the hole for the light housing, and some clips to secure the wiring under the stairs.
6. Wired recessed floor, ceiling, and under-rail lighting will provide you and your guests with a guaranteed well-lit inviting space where you can enjoy food and conversation well into the night. Unless you’re a carpenter, though, you’ll likely need the help of a decking installer. Retrofitting a deck for wired lighting almost always involves dismantling and reassembling railings and deck boards.
7. If your deck functions as a balcony over the patio below, it’s a nice touch to install hanging lanterns or a fan-light combination underneath. Your space will give off an air of southern gentility as you enjoy a cold glass of sweet tea on a steamy summer evening.
Outdoor lighting, when it’s done right, leaves a powerful impression. And while your friends are counting the days until your next dinner party, you can sit back and thoroughly enjoy the restful, after-hours oasis you have created. For more outdoor lighting tips, give our professional residential deck builders a call.