How to Properly Light Your Back Deck

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Decks are a great place to hang out during the day, but what about when the sun goes down? You can get much more use out of your deck if you add some lights that transform your deck into an outdoor, evening living space.

Kids can continue to play outside when it gets dark, and adults can watch from the illuminated deck. If you have a pool near the deck, the extra light will make night swimming safer. If you have an outdoor kitchen, you can cook late into the night. This post will break down the best ways to bring the barbeque into the early hours of the morning.

The Plan

The best time to add lighting is when you’re installing or making upgrades to your deck. Adding the necessary infrastructure will require taking apart a deck that is already installed. If you have been considering making renovations to an existing deck, or are planning to have a deck installed, talk to a deck and fence contractor to best devise your plan.

Install Lights in Deck Stairs & in the Floor

Avoid trips and falls on the stairs by installing lights directly into them. You can get them with motion activation technology so that they don’t have to be on all the time.

These are areas where you definitely don’t want string lights. It’s likely that you’ll end up making the deck less safe by adding a tripping hazard.

Adding lights in the floor also makes wiring much simpler and out of the way. It’s one of the easier options for DIYers. However, if you’re planning to use several of these options, it’s best to work with a professional electrician.

Use Recessed Lights If You Have a Roof Over Your Deck

Recessed lights sink into the structure where they’re installed. This helps to protect them from bad weather and makes maintenance easier. Since they’ll need to be installed in a roof, the wiring is more advanced.

They’ll still require dusting and bug removal, but they’ll be protected enough that rain and snow shouldn’t affect them. And if a stray baseball makes its way toward the deck, the lights will at least be out of harm’s way.

Put Lights on Deck Posts

These lights don’t just help with visibility. They also look great, adding an extra level of design to your deck. There are many options to fit your personal style, and they are weatherproof.

These will need to be hardwired to your deck if you don’t choose a solar-powered option. Consult with a professional electrician when considering this option. They will help you get power to each post in the most effective way.

Add a Fire Feature

Fire features – usually fire pits, or outdoor fireplaces – can provide warmth in the cooler months as well as a warm glow that enhances the ambiance of your back deck.

Stone work fire pit
Stone work fire pit (decoist)

Fire in close proximity to wood is not always the best recipe for success, so professional advice is suggested to best insulate your deck from the heat of a fire feature.

Don’t stress! This is a common situation and there are completely safe workarounds that will prevent damage to your deck and home. Usually, this involves some masonry, but there are other ways to insulate your deck from the heat of an open flame.

Add String Lights Along Fences and Walls

This doesn’t require an electrician unless you have to install new power outlets. Just plug in your string lights and put them where you want them.

However, these are more decorative than functional. String lights likely won’t be bright enough to get the job done. They are the icing on the cake!

Consult a Professional

Other than the string lights, these options are all best installed while you’re building your deck. Talk to a deck and fence contractor about your lighting options. If they don’t provide electrical services themselves, they will likely know someone who does.

About the Author:

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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