Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas to Enhance Your Space

October 21, 2021
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasOutdoor Deck Lighting Ideas to Enhance Your Space

Your outdoor living space is a haven — a retreat from the cares of everyday life. But when the sun goes down and the evening deepens, you may find your outdoor escape could use one more addition: deck lights. To keep the laughter-filled dinners and late-night conversations going, we’ve put together outdoor deck lighting ideas ranging from permanent installations to temporary halos of warmth.  

Benefits of Outdoor Deck Lighting 

 Improve your deck’s atmosphere with a warm, gentle glow. 

 Increase visibility at transition points (like stairs and perimeters). 

 Increase your deck’s functionality by making it safe and useful well into the night. 

Get the bright ideas you need with our Deck Lights Inspiration Series. 

Different Types of Deck Lights

As you begin considering outdoor deck lighting ideas, it’s important to think through several factors including cost, weatherability, and ease of installation. The three main types of deck lights offer varying benefits in regard to these factors.


Permanent deck lighting is installed within the structure of your deck. While it requires proper wiring, you may be able to DIY


Semi-permanent lighting exists outside the deck structure, but involves some installation, such as hanging bistro lights.


Temporary lighting exists outside the deck structure and boasts the easiest installation — think candles and lanterns.  

A Note on Cost & Durability 

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. That said, the superior durability of in-structure lighting means minimal maintenance and infrequent replacements, saving you on cost in the long-run.  

Semi-permanent and temporary lighting have lower associated upfront costs, but both types are less durable than permanent lighting. Both will also need to be replaced with greater frequency, which means continual long-term costs

Permanent Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas 

Permanent outdoor lighting from TimberTech gives you long-lasting, high-performance illumination, protected with 5-Year Limited Lighting Warranty — and it requires little maintenance.  

Types of Permanent Deck Lights 

Incorporating Permanent Deck Lights Into Your Design 

Looking for more permanent outdoor deck lighting ideas? Explore these built-in options. 

In-Deck Lights for a Gently Lit Pathway

Place in-deck lights along pathways that connect different sections of your deck to gently guide visitors along.

Extend in-deck lighting to the entire perimeter of your deck to highlight your deck shape and prevent unfortunate steps off the edge if your deck surface is lower than 30” and has no railing.

Riser Lights for Softly Brightened Stairs

Highlight the architectural allure of your stairs with riser lights cascading down from the top stair to the bottom.

Frame your elegant lighted stairs with a crisp white composite railing and post cap lights to provide additional lighting as well as a polished finish to your design.

Accent & Cap Lighting for Top-to-Bottom Illumination 

Add lighting to both the top and bottom of your railing posts with a lighted island cap and accent light installed near the foot of each post.  

The effect is a radiant perimeter that lends sophisticated charm — and increased visibility — to your design.  

DIY Tips

Many permanent deck lights need to be installed at the time of build due to the wiring that often runs beneath the deck and within the railing. When choosing your bulbs, be sure to keep the color temperatures consistent across all your lighting fixtures for a cohesive look.   

Due to the intricacy of permanent deck lights installation, we recommend you work with a qualified contractor who can install your lights just the way you want them.  

Take control of your outdoor deck lights with the 150W Power Pack which has a dusk sensor and a timer so you can set your lights to turn on and off when you want them to. LEARN MORE 

Semi-Permanent Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas 

Semi-permanent deck lights are those that require less complex installation but which are not as durable as permanent deck lights. The most common semi-permanent lighting option is bistro, or string, lights.

Explore these ways to incorporate bistro lights in your deck design.  

Bistro Light Ideas

Above Your Deck 

Hang bistro lights above your deck between trees and your house for an overhead twinkle that rivals the stars.

Strung on a Pergola 

If you have a covered deck feature like a pergola, string bistro lights along the slatted roof for a romantic glow.  

Along the Railing 

Can’t easily hang lights above your deck? String them along your railing for a radiant perimeter.  

DIY Tips 

When hanging any kind of string lights outdoors, be sure to follow these safety tips: 

  • Make sure to only install outdoor-rated fixtures and bulbs. Look for words like “weatherproof,” “weather-resistant,” and “suitable for outdoor use” on the packaging. 
  • Use outdoor-rated extension cords when needed. 
  • 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. 
  • Use caution when using equipment like ladders to hang your lights and have someone nearby spotting you for added safety.  

Temporary Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas 

Outdoor deck lighting ideas with deck furniture

Temporary outdoor deck lighting ideas include placing lanterns and candles in strategic locales around your deck to provide gentle, tranquil lighting.  

Larger Decks: Illuminate Gathering Places 

Have a sprawling deck with multiple gathering places? Illuminate each section with lanterns or candles placed strategically around furniture to create an inviting glow that draws family and friends together.  

Smaller Decks: Provide Cozy Ambiance 

Working with a smaller space? A few candles are all it takes to provide a romantic flickering light for ambiance. For additional lighting, hang bright bistro lights above your deck or opt for permanent lighting in your railing.  

DIY Tips 

Lanterns, candles, and luminaries require no installation — simply place them where you want to enjoy them, and you’re done. However, be aware that anything with an open flame requires close attention and should never be left burning around children or pets without an adult present. A knocked over candle could also potentially damage your deck surface. For a safer option, choose flameless or LED candles for the same soft glow without the flame.  

Visualize Your Deck Lighting Options  

With the ideas you need to spark your creativity, it’s time to start visualizing outdoor deck lighting ideas in your own design. Launch our 3D Deck Designer to customize every element of your deck — including lighting — and create your cozy, curated outdoor escape.  

But fair warning: Once you’ve created an atmosphere this inviting, guests might just become permanent fixtures. 

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.

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