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Deck Lighting Ideas

Updated on November 30, 2013

When it is well furnished,  a deck can be like a whole other room in your house. A deck can be a great place to spend time reading or relaxing and getting a bit of sun. It can be a good place for the kids to play or to do their homework. A deck is a excellent spot for Sunday brunch or a nice evening meal. What’s more, a deck is the perfect place to entertain a few guests.

Naturally, a deck is only good for these purposes during daylight hours, unless, of course, you have good lighting for its nighttime use. You can greatly expand the usefulness of your deck by installing a number of different kinds of deck lighting. In addition, this lighting will not only make your deck a useful extension of your home, it will also transform it into one of the most beautiful spots in or outside of your house. In fact, deck lighting is a must have accessory for any home with a deck.

Making Your Deck Comfy

Owning a deck is a unique opportunity to bring the inside outdoors on clear nights or cool autumn days. Now that you are getting your lighting situation under control, here are a few things you can do to make your deck like an outdoor room,

1) First thing's first, make sure you light every passageway for when you entertain guests at night with outdoor lighting fixtures! Don't give them a chance to fall while walking down your deck stairs.

2) Outdoor furniture can be very comfy, but nothing makes things feel homey like pillows for the outdoors. Invest in a few that really pop with bright colors for you and your guests to enjoy.

3) Your deck is like your introduction to your backyard, so including plant containers of multiple sizes make for a nice accent.

4) Getting an outdoor rug means that you can have fun outdoors without having to walk on cold surfaces, grass of dirt. Not that there's anything wrong with that - sometimes you just want to be barefoot outdoors without the feeling of, well, being barefoot outdoors!

5) For getting the feeling that you are still in your own private area, not having to contend with any eyesores that may or may not be your neighbor's yard, consider getting outdoor screens. It gives you the idea of being in your own room as well as blocks any unwanted views from elements out of your control!

6) When having a party outside, you don't have to settle for a grill. Mix it up with fun treats like fondue. Buy a small fire pit and roast marshmallows (away from the wooden deck, mind you). Buy a raclette grill and let people have control over what they eat as well as showing your knowledge of Swiss culture! There are so many possibilities!

Types of Deck Lighting

There are a number of different types of lighting for your deck, each with a unique purpose and look. As is true for inside the home, a combination of different varieties of deck lighting will do the job of illuminating your deck in the best manner possible.

Like inside lighting, deck lighting can be roughly divided into three varieties based on its function. These varieties include overall ambient lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting. Ambient lighting is probably the first thing we think of when we think of lighting a deck. You probably think about flood lights that bath the deck in a strong wash of light. Or, we may think of various kinds of electric lanterns, lights in perhaps a Japanese or Deco style that attach to the wall of your home and provide direct lighting of the deck and its environs. This kind of lighting is important to your deck and should be one of the first considerations in planning light for the deck, but it isn’t the only kind of deck lighting.

Accent lighting can also be a useful and beautiful way to enhance the living space of your deck. Such things as post lights or post caps, which fit over the post tops on your deck, can provide a lovely ambient lighting perfect for a warm summer night. These post lights provide a gentle glow to the length of your deck and can help illuminate your way along its entire length and breadth. One post light every 5 or 6 feet will do the job nicely of illuminating the deck in any season. Just as lovely are railing lights that fasten to the cross rails of your deck and provide a downward shining light to illuminate your path in the darkness.

Another nice accent lighting idea for your deck are under-bench lights. These lights fit to the underside of built-in wooden benches to create a soft pool of light that emanates from underneath. This type of deck lighting is wonderfully romantic and can make any night special, no matter with whom you may be sitting and whiling away the evening hours. Combining under-bench lights with lights set into planters is a great way to both highlight your plants at night and cast a dreamy glow across your deck.

A variety of deck lighting that can be considered task lighting are lights that are inset into the stairs or floor of your deck. These lights are, as their name implies, set into the wood of the deck to create a path of light through the dark. The lights are made in such a way that they do not catch your feet as you walk and avoid the problem of tripping you up. They are also strong enough to be walked on, even over many years.

Finally, the addition of spot lights of relatively low wattage can create interesting highlights on your deck to emphasize potted trees or plants or perhaps a table on which hors d’ouvres or drinks can be set during parties. Adding several spot lights that point in different directions across the deck can create a play of light and shadow that is exceptionally pleasing to the eye.

Deck lighting can make the deck useful after the sun goes down, as well.
Deck lighting can make the deck useful after the sun goes down, as well.

Low Watt and Solar Deck Lighting

Considering the cost of electricity these days, it is always a good idea to cut back on your energy consumption when lighting your deck. For this purpose, there are many kinds of deck lights that are designed to run on low voltage currents. This kind of lighting also provides additional safety when it is installed outside of your home. Most varieties of deck lighting can be purchased in low voltage models.

To save even more money on your energy bill, consider using solar powered deck lights. The solar cells in these lights collect energy during the day when the sun is shining and store it in a battery for use when the sun goes down. Many types of post caps and deck lanterns are made to use the sun’s energy to light your way.

So, as you can see, there are many excellent ways to light your deck and make it into a true living space for your home, whether during the day or at night. The purchase of quality deck lighting will practically pay for itself in the much greater use and enjoyment you will receive from your deck.

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