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Incredible deck lighting ideas for any home

When putting together a cozy, usable outdoor space, deck lighting can be one of your best friends. When used properly and sparingly, these outdoor lighting options will help create ambiance and lengthen family gatherings, celebrations, or even just a relaxing summer evening outside without the need for a fire. If you’re new to deck design, you may not know where to start, let alone how to light a deck. But don’t worry! There are plenty of options to choose from, allowing you to customize your space and fit your individual needs.

Hanging string lights outside

Hanging string lights and fairy lights

This classic style of lighting provides subtle ambiance without overpowering the area. You don’t want your deck to have blinding lights or make it look like it’s daytime at night. Hanging string lights combined with fairy lights are the perfect way to achieve a peaceful, ambient space. Fairy lights (or Christmas lights) alone won’t be enough, as you’ll need quite a lot of them to provide any type of good lighting; however, you can combine strands of fairy lights with strands of string lights (the ones that have the miniature light bulbs) to create lighting that varies and complements each other.

If you only have the space or desire for one kind of hanging light, we recommend going with string lights. You’ll need less of them to light the space, and it won’t feel too much like the holidays year-round. Hanging string lights are perfect for underneath an overhang on your deck, on the underside of railing, around posts, and even on the overhang of your roof. It’s even better if you have tree branches to thread the lighting strands through.

As long as you have some features, you have room to be creative with where you hang and wrap this type of lighting. You can even get crafty and make small covers to go over the bulbs for an added bit of creativity.

Stair and deck rail lights

If you aren’t interested in hanging lights, stair and deck rail lights are a good alternative. Their installation can brighten up your walkway without concern of interfering with your space, and you can install as many or as few as you need. Stair lighting is often installed on the vertical edge of the step (i.e., the light on each step will illuminate the step below). You won’t have to worry about stepping on them or breaking them — so long as you don’t accidentally kick them.

Deck rail lighting can work alongside stair lighting or on its own if you don’t have steps. Rail lights are often mounted on the side of or underneath the railings, so they aren’t overpowering but are bright enough to light up the edge of the deck. No longer will you risk running into the side of the railing or accidentally falling off; you’ll be able to see the exit and its lack of light as clearly as the lit-up rails.

Deck decorated with various lighting

Post cap lights

This is a good one to use if you don’t want to worry about permanently installing step lights or rail lights, and if you’re concerned about electricity costs. Post cap lights are made to sit directly on top of your post and light them up. They’ll outline the edges of your deck, providing you with ambiance that doesn’t encroach on or disturb the nighttime too much. Although there are varieties that use electricity at a low voltage, you can also opt for ones that are solar-powered. These will keep your energy costs down and run purely on natural lighting. The only downside is that they may not be as bright when there’s a cloudy day, but most people won’t sit outside at night if the weather is poor, anyway.


Lanterns are another low-hassle lighting option that can keep energy costs down. Best of all, they’re often movable and can be set up in different ways. You can have floor lanterns, lanterns that sit on tables, and lanterns that hang from the roof or on posts. One of the most common ways to use this type of lighting are with flameless LED candles. They’ll have the appearance of a flame without the risk of burning down your deck and house if you accidentally leave one on. You will have to spend money on batteries, but you can purchase as many or as few lanterns as you wish for your space.

Beyond these options, there are so many more that you can get creative with depending on the space you’re working with. You can consider DIY lighting options or any of these modern lighting ideas. If you want to light your deck without electricity, there are also a lot of solar lighting options out there. You can opt for purely outdoor wall lights that are entirely out of the way, or even tiki torches you can light and use to keep away bugs. Just remember, as with anything that has fire, to be safe with those and any lighting option you choose.

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Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
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