In this sixth post in our DIY decking series, we discuss how to infuse your outdoor living space with a warm glow courtesy of these outdoor deck lighting ideas ranging from high-visibility accents to flickering candles. With an atmosphere this inviting, guests might just become permanent fixtures.
One of the benefits to a premium-performance composite decking is the option to enjoy relaxing mornings and afternoons in total comfort, for years to come. But once the sun goes down and the evening deepens, you may find that your outdoor escape could benefit from one major addition: lighting.
To keep the laughter-filled dinners going, we’ve put together outdoor deck lighting ideas ranging from permanent installations to temporary halos of warmth. Read on to learn more — we think you’ll find it illuminating.
A Quick Spotlight on Outdoor Lighting Categories
As you begin considering outdoor deck lighting ideas, it’s important to weigh several factors including cost, weatherability, and ease of installation. Furthermore, outdoor deck lighting will fall into one of three categories: permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. Below is a quick breakdown of each one:
Permanent Deck Lighting
Permanent deck lighting is integrated within the structure of your composite deck, such as built into risers or underneath the top rail of your deck railing. This type of lighting typically requires the most extensive installation of the three, but also offers superior durability.
This lighting exists outside the deck structure but involves some installation, as in the case of hanging bistro lights. Semi-permanent lighting, although it should be graded for outdoor use, will be less able to weather the elements than will permanent lighting.
Temporary lighting also exists outside the deck structure and involves little to no installation — think lanterns and candles. This type will need to be replaced the most frequently and is the least able to hold up to the elements.
Before taking a deep dive into each of these three categories in the next sections, here is a general overview to give you a sense of how these different outdoor deck lighting ideas compare.
A note on expense: The cost associated with permanent outdoor lighting will depend on the scale of your project — for example, several accent lights at transition points will differ as compared to an installation that runs the full perimeter of your deck. Semi-permanent and temporary lighting have lower associated upfront costs, but both types are more susceptible to weathering than permanent lighting. Both will also need to be replaced with greater frequency, which means continual long-term costs.
Now that you have a sense of the three categories of outdoor deck lighting ideas, you can begin learning about the options within each and select for your outdoor living needs.
Permanent Installations to Light the Night
Permanent outdoor lighting offers many desirable benefits that surpass those of semi-permanent or temporary lighting options; these are important to weigh as you parse outdoor deck lighting ideas. Some of these benefits include:
- Visibility: Permanent outdoor lighting improves visibility by illuminating wider areas more consistently than semi-permanent or temporary lighting.
- Safety: Increased visibility means increased safety — certain permanent outdoor lighting products, like TimberTech riser lights, are made specifically for transition points like stairs.
- Long-term use: Unlike candles that burn down or bistro lights which can be whipsawed by high winds, permanent outdoor lighting is specifically made to work seamlessly with your premium-performance composite deck.
All of our TimberTech® lighting products for deck, porch, and railing fall into the permanent installation category. To explore our full lighting portfolio, drag the slider below. For a more in-depth look at each deck-brightening option, check out our article on DIY deck lighting ideas.
Semi-Permanent Deck Lighting Ideas
If you’re perusing outdoor deck lighting ideas that will lend your space a whimsical feel, install bistro or twinkle lights. These softly glowing string lights instantly boost the ambiance of your outdoor living space and provide just enough subtle light for cozy gatherings.
Bear in mind that bistro and twinkle lights are big on atmosphere-boosting power but can ultimately provide less illumination than their permanent lighting counterparts. Illumination will depend on the orientation of the strings, the number of bulbs, and the wattage.
When hanging any kind of string lights outdoors, be sure to follow these safety tips:
- Make sure to only install outdoor-rated fixtured and bulbs. Look for words like “weatherproof,” “weather-resistant,” and “suitable for outdoor use” on the packaging.
- Use outdoor-rated extension cords.
- Install a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), or fast-acting circuit breaker that is designed to stop the flow of electricity in the event of a ground-fault.
- When hanging lights high up, only stand on rigid ladders that lock in place and with someone nearby spotting you.
Temporary Illumination to Set the Mood
Imagine it’s time to wind down after a long day. You sink into the sectional or lounge chair on your composite deck, put up your feet, and begin to watch the stars come on. It’s a moment for atmosphere, and nothing says “atmosphere” quite like the gentle flicker of a candle or the soft glow of a lantern.
Temporary lights — like candles, lanterns, or luminaries — evoke a sense of peace and tranquility. Another benefit? They involve little to no installation. That said, anything involving an open flame requires close attention.
Sometimes, the best choice is not to choose at all — or at least, not exclusively. Bring enhanced value, visibility, and safety to your space with selections from our TimberTech lighting portfolio, then use subtle twinkle lights or a tabletop candle as a finishing touch.
Turn Your Deck Dream Into Design
Play with shapes, colors, lighting, and railing to bring your deck ideas to life with our custom Deck Designer tool.